Garlic Mustard or Jack by the Hedge, is the other garlic plant out at the moment. Seen along hedgerows and woodland edges in many places. Its introduction to the USA by settlers shows how nutritious a plant this was held to be by our ancestors- used for food, medication ( believed to heal wounds, for example) and one of the first recorded European spices regularly used in cooking. The roots also taste like Horseradish. You can snack on the seeds when out for a walk. The other reason to value it is that it is one of the main host plants for the wonderful Orangetip Butterfly, out and about in our garden and local areas now. Conditions: Bright and breezy. Temperature: Max 16- Min 8 c.
Ramsons or Wild Garlic. There are two common forms of edible garlic in the UK. Today, the one increasingly turning up in recipes and restaurants, is Ramson’s, probably named from an Old Scandinavian word for “rank”, and the smell is strong. An indicator species of ancient woodland, it loves damp woodland, flowering at this time of year before the leafy canopy shuts out light. Hover flies, Butterflies and Longhorn Beetles all feed on
and pollinate them. They were used medicinally for a range of ailments, including rheumatism. It’s Latin name, and some of its common names (e.g. Bear’s leek) either refers to the fact that brown bears love eating them, or that it is locally common, much as dog is used for wild flowers that are common e.g. ‘Dog rose’. TKe your pick! Conditions: Cloudy and cool for time of year (in Sussex anyway). Temperature: Max 11- Min 8 c.
Following with another member of the Crow family, the Rook is highly social and mates for life. They will share food with their partner, putting food in their bills. Rooks are about the size of Choughs and Crows but have shaggy legs, bare, by ny cheeks and look less ‘tidy’. I loved watching this one delicately picking up tiny seeds with its large bill. Conditions: Cool, cloudy. Temperature: Max 11- Min 8 C.
Chough– as we prepare to leave lovely Pembrokeshire, here is the iconic species of these western cliffs (especially for Sian!). On the amber list due to reduction in grazed turf, and cow-pats, which provide insects to feed these unusual members of the crow family, we’ve been lucky to see a few individuals and pairs. With red legs, curved red bills and wonderful glossy black feathers, they are a brilliant sight. Conditions: long spells of rain
clearing to blue skies. Temperature: Max 12- min 7 c.