Hi, I’m Connor, one of Stillgarden’s Social Botanists and I am also a keen forager.
I know it may not seem like it when you look outside, but spring really is just around the corner. When I first moved to Inchicore back in summer 2019, I was thrilled to discover the abundance of wild food in the local area. As spring arrives, nature’s larder reopens for business.
I quite often embarrass my friends by garnishing my lunches with the odd bit of edible greenery I find around my campus, Trinity College. With our latest lockdown and the bleak persistence of Zoom university, I’ve been sticking to the available offerings of the local area. Safe from the judging eyes of my fellow existential Arts students.
Foraging for Garnish?
One of my favourites is wild garlic, and three-cornered garlic is already beginning to pop up and flower. Add to scrambled eggs or salads for a delightfully fragrant bite, or try making your own pesto with it. Whilst the leaves resemble many unpalatable, toxic plants (such as daffodils)! It’s very easy to identify wild garlic because the leaves unmistakably smell like garlic when you break them.
Chickweed and wood sorrel make great seasonal garnishes. I’ve also spotted around Inchicore too! They can add a zesty citrus element to any meal. If you are venturing for something with more of a kick try adding young dandelion leaves to your salad.
Something more familiar from childhood memories would be the stinging nettle. Nettle soup is quite popular in the culinary world, but it has so many more uses. The young leaves have a delicious spinach-like taste when cooked (heat removes the sting—no need to worry about a sore mouth). When foraging, use the younger top leaves before the plant goes to seed otherwise it will have a gritty texture.
Alexanders, similar taste to celery, and is quite abundant around the Canal, Grattan Crescent and Phoenix Park. There’s actually a mini forest of it in the Phoenix Park, near where the deer like to graze and hide from the gaze of the human visitors. When you find the cat in the shed, you are in the right spot. Spring is the best time to eat Alexanders, before the stalks grow thick and tough.
The end of spring brings elderflower, which can be found near the distillery. This beautiful flower makes a flavoursome cooler for a warm spring day, or a floral herbal tea for those chillier spring days. Try adding some to your Gin and Tonic to add a floral profile.
Very recently, a local rewilding project planted several fruit trees around Inchicore, including by the distillery’s community garden. Hopefully, they’ll soon start to flower along with the established cherry blossoms and will fill our community air with their sweet scent and pretty colours. With all the other treats Neal and the Social Botanists are cultivating at Stillgarden, Inchicore’s native Black Honeybees certainly have a sweet year ahead of them, and hopefully the slightly less fluffy human foragers do too.
Your friendly neighbourhood forager,