The many varied herbal adventures I wanted to report on didn’t quite happen the way I wanted to. The time of year meant that there weren’t many great examples of herbs in bloom or on display and I was caught up with family much more than expected. I didn’t find quite a lot of yarrow but it was all in areas of much car traffic, so there was no use picking plants that were heavily polluted.
One of my favourite days was spent walking through the New Forest area of Dorset. A well known area, steeped in history, which is a favorite with many who enjoy walking, horse riding and foraging. One quirk of the area is that there are wild ponies, who have right of way in the area, who’s ancestors escaped from Spanish Galleons crashed on the local shores.
While walking through the amazingly coloured forest I was busy picking wild blackberries, which I shared with the Light of my Life (well, I gave him one). Many mushrooms were growing under trees but I had no idea what they were, so they stayed put.
I was also busy looking for the fruit of Beech trees. Although theBeech only produces fruit every three to four years, there were plenty of these trees around go find some that indeed had fruit. Of course most had already been pilfered by the squirrels.
Locally Beech leaves are used as a salad leaf, straight from the tree. The nut can be roasted and is said to be similar to young walnut in taste. Beech nut oil is mild enough for a salad and has a high enough smoking point to use it for frying.
There is also a wicked Beech liqueur which utilizes the young leaves, steeped in gin to which you later add sugar syrup and a dash of brandy. Bright green in colour, it is easy to drink, but watch out for it’s effects!
I shall miss the area. There is so much more to discover,I would dearly like to spend a year and experience all four seasons for myself.
See you all when we get back