Native Plants and Trees

This page is a month-by-month guide to our native plants and trees, their edible and medicinal uses, and includes seasonal recipes for foods and drinks made from what you can gather in the garden or from the hedgerows. It is also a gardening guide to growing the native plants and trees, based on my own experience and experiments. This has led to my interest in native plant guerilla gardening, also included here. We can all play our part in re-wilding the countryside and our own gardens too by planting native plants and trees. We can then gather them for medicines and food and they will help restore the diverse eco-systems so needed by the bees and other wildlife.

 

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March 2014

Today I have emptied my mini greenhouse to see how everything has been doing over the winter. Most things are looking very healthy and will be ready to plant out anytime now

 

 

 

Time to order seeds and begin sowing for the summer months. The following plants are all native wild flowers that will look good growing in any garden or could be grown for reintroducing back into the wild. Many of them have medicinal uses. Use a good herbal to find out more about them.

 

Marsh Mallow

 

Some Native Annuals

Some Native Perennials

Some Native Biennials

These take two years to come to maturity and don't flower in the first year. Once established though, there are plants flowering every year.

 

Woodruff

 

March 2014.

 

March 2013

 

This year due to a month of icy weather and much snow up here in the peak district, the spring is coming in very late.

One sunny morning in early March, thirty seven frogs arrived in the pond overnight and began a mating frenzy, producing copious amounts of frog spawn.

 

 

Despite the intensely cold weather, the native plants are doing well. Over the last four or five years I have been encouraging them to grow in their own dedicated beds, treating them as a crop and learning how to manage them like any other crop. They are growing long before my conventional salad plants are ready to eat and they seem to be thriving in all this wet cold weather.

I am able to gather together a pile of fresh green native plants most days for my lunch. Corn Salad, Lady's smock, Chickweed, Chives, Garlic Mustard, Dandelions (take out the bitter central stem) and plenty of Wintercress.

Wintercress ~ Barbarea vulgaris
A native biennial or perennial, also known as yellow rocket and land cress. An edge plant found along rivers, canals, roadsides and waste places. Flowers May to September.

The young seedlings grow throughout the winter and are a very early salad plant. Grows well in containers. Prevent most of the plants from flowering to use the leaves. Let the rest self-seed for the following year or save the seeds and sow in July.

 

 

This picture was taken at the beginning of March. It shows the Wintercress pushing through the loose gravel of our parking area at the bottom of the garden. It has self seeded here of its own accord and is growing very healthily in very little soil. The more I pick the leaves the more it produces more! It is easy to weed out, which I will do later in the spring when I tidy up this area, but for now I let it grow and enjoy the crop it gives me.

 

 

This pile of delicious early spring native plants was quickly gathered in the first week of march, despite the snow and the half flooded garden. They can be simply eaten just as they are, as they are deliciously tender at this time of year. But my favourite way of eating them at the moment is to chop them all up finely,

 

 

and stir in plenty of chopped Garlic to keep my immune system boosted,

 

 

and finally stir in a half teaspoon of honey and a dash of balsamic vinegar..... absolutely delicious!

 

 

March 2013.

 

March 2012

 

The Land is changing, responding to the increase in daylight and there is a sense of Spring in the air, even though it is still cold. When the Sun shines we feel compelled to get outside and get the Sun on our faces, start gardening, turn over the earth, plant some seeds.

Wild weather days bring surprises. Winds blow away the Winter debris, the rains refresh the land and native plants seem to appear over night. The trees are waking up, their buds swelling and turning pink or purple. Everywhere the birds are singing, nesting and claiming their territories.

The frogs arrive in the pond and call to each other day and night and begin to create copious amounts of frog spawn... now we really know that Spring has arrived!

 

 

Chickweed - Stellara media
A native annual. Grows everywhere in the UK and all over the world.

Also known as Star Weed, because of its little white star flowers and Winter Weed, because it grows in the Winter.

In the Garden: Despite its delicate appearance this is a tough plant that once you have it you will always have it, as it readily self seeds. I successfully imported this into my garden as remarkably I didn’t have any. It transplants easily. If you have it, then encourage it, move it to where you want it to grow and think of it as a crop. It makes a good edible ground cover in the Winter and Spring that can be cropped several times.

Eventually it flowers in the late Spring and goes to seed and can then be cleared out.

In the Summer I transplant the new plants that appear and grow them along side other salad plants, tomatoes, cucumbers etc. As these gradually finish or die back in the Autumn, the Chickweed remains and grows all through the Winter to provide a very tasty addition to salads and spinach mixes.

 

 

Herbal Uses:
Chickweed is a supreme healer. Its action is cooling and soothing.

- Make an infusion of the leaves and drink regularly or simply eat the fresh plant. Use for any hot inflammatory conditions. A tonic for the liver, kidneys and lungs, and for any digestive upsets.

- Use the same infusion to bathe burns and to cleanse and draw out poisons from any inflamed skin conditions.

- It is a great Spring tonic-herb, a herbal cleanser and restorer of the blood.

In the Kitchen:
Chickweed can be eaten throughout the Spring when it is at its best. High in vitamin A and C and high in minerals, including Iron, Copper, Magnesium and Calcium.

Add to salads, sandwiches, spinach-type mixes, soups, risottos, stir-fries, sprinkle over potatoes. Avoid using during Summer as the stalks become stringy.

Chickweed Pesto - Take a few handfuls of chickweed tops. Blend with chopped garlic, olive oil and some ground nuts of your choice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you like your salads hot, there are two native plants at their best at this time of year. Both can be grown in the garden to provide early leaves for salads. Both work well added to virtually any dish you can think of, but especially good with cheese, potatoes and eggs.

 

Lady's Smock - Cardamine pratensis
A native perennial. Known as Cuckoo flower or Bittercress. It likes growing in damp places. Flowers late Spring, early Summer and these too can be added to salads and used as a garnish. They are not as hot as the leaves!

 

 

Herbal Uses: A tonic for the stomach, aids digestion, restores lost appetite, vitamin C tonic and an expectorant for chesty coughs.

In the Kitchen: best eaten fresh. Tastes very much like watercress. Add the leaves and flowers to salads.

 

Garlic Mustard - Alliaria petiolata
Known as Jack-by-the-Hedge, poor mans mustard, Hedge Garlic. A native biennial.

This is a happy edge plant that likes to grow along bottom of the hedges. Good to grow in the garden. If you let it flower it will seed its self and stick fairly well to its spot.

 

 

Use the leaves in early Spring (March and April). After that they become too tough. Add to salads, in sandwiches, sauces, to add to spinach type mixes, stews and soups. They are very hot!

Garlic Mustard Cheese
4oz of curd cheese, or any soft cheese
4 tablespoons of fresh chopped Garlic Mustard
2 tablespoons of chopped Chives
Beat the cheese and chopped herbs in a bowl and add salt and black pepper to taste.

Garlic Mustard Dip
The same recipe as above but add about a quarter of a pint of sour cream or natural yogurt.

Garlic Mustard Mayonaise
1 egg yolk
half a teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Garlic Mustard
4 fluid ounces/125ml of olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Whisk the egg yolk, mustard and Garlic Mustard.
Gradually add the oil and vinegar in small amounts. Add more vinegar, salt and peper to taste.

 

Other Native salad edibles for March

 

Corn Salad - Valerianella

 

 

Cleavers - Gallium aparine

 

 

Wood Sorrell - Oxalis acetosella

 

 

Salad Burnett - Sanguisorba minor

 

March 2012.

 


 

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