Sunday, April 14, 2013


The buds are unfurling, Spring has arrived!! I took a nice long walk through Battersea Park along the Thames River in London yesterday and it was glorious to see all the signs of life amid the muddy puddles and brown leaves of winter.
Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
A Judas Ear fungus (Auricularia Auricula-judae), which despite it's gelatinous texture is actually edible and quite popular in dishes in China. Boy do I like eating crazy things outdoors, and I wouldn't mind taking a nibble, but this is not a texture I want to eat regularly.
This is a holly (leaf on the left, bud on the right), but not the type of prickly common holly I usually imagine (Ilex aquifolium). This is a Highclere Holly (Ilex altaclerensis), which has either no spines on its leaves or just a few forward pointed spines. Like a common holly, the leaves are thick, but they are relatively flat and remind me a bit of waxy tropical leaves.

Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum), smells amazing when it's growing in the forest! I remember the first time I smelled a field of wild garlic growing beneath the beech trees in a Swiss forest and was just carried away with the amazing smell that reminded me of dinner. It's edible too!!

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
The elderberry has sprouted too. My Mom and Dad used to make the most amazing elderflower champagne (lightly fermented) in the springtime. I will never forget the sweet flavors in those reused Grolsch swingtop bottles that we waited weeks to taste.

Blackthorn blossoms
And the Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) is in bloom. This gorgeous tree blooms beautiful cherry blossoms on a bare tree. Even before the leaves have sprouted, these flowers pop open and welcome springtime! It looks like snowflakes hanging on a tree, so wonderful! It's dark fruits can be harvested after the first frost and used to flavor liquors. These are most often called Sloe Gin (after the berries which are referred to as sloe). I would absolutely looove to make Sloe Gin someday, it sounds just lovely. Come see the recipe here.

Blackthorn blossoms and the first leaf buds popping

Blackthorn tree. See all the white snowflake-like blooms?
Oak buds (Quercus sp.)

And let's not forget, spring is also mating season. The birds are wide awake and beginning to pair, squawk, grow fancy plummage, and court their potential mates. This Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) was friskily checking out the dock.

While these Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) have already decided on each other and are happily waiting for bathing season.
This Magpie (whose scientific name is aptly Pica pica) picks and dances it's way along the puddles in the park looking for worms.
 And a few other flowers and sights along the way:

Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Welcome Spring!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yes welcome spring.!!!! New Garden at my house. :-)