Thursday, 14 June 2012

Foraging for Breakfast and Spying on Sparrowhawks!

Yesterday was a lovely day, warm and sunny. I had breakfast at Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens at a lively event organised by the Garden's Edible Gardening Project.

Breakfast was delicious with elderflower cordial, muffins made with herbs foraged from the Garden's herb garden, veggie sausages with foraged salad and red clover tea!

Then I joined a short foraging walk round the herb garden with the Garden's Education Officer, Greg Kenicer. He showed us a variety of plants that are either edible or can be used for medical or household purposes. We smelt a lot of herbs (including the vile smelling woundwort which used to be used to dress wounds), tasted a few of them (including pignuts, which are difficult to dig up and taste like water chestnut, and the leaves of various species of vetch, which taste a bit like peas, not surprisingly as they're from the pea family) and were warned off several others that are inedible or toxic.It really did inspire me to read through my copy of Food for Free and decide on things I could forage while I'm on my weekly walk along the Water of Leith. Though in reality I know I'm unlikely to ever forage anything more than the occasional blackberry and raspberry or even wild strawberry!

It was a such a lovely way to start the day that I returned to the Botanics in the evening for a fascinating presentation about the Garden's resident sparrowhawks from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Lothian and Borders Raptor Study Group. There are apparently about 27 pairs of sparrowhawks nesting in Edinburgh, two of them in the Botanic Gardens. This year one of the breeding pairs gave up on their nest even before they'd built it while the second have just hatched their fourth chick. The birds are now filmed 24 hours a day and you can watch them live here. RSPB staff and volunteers are at hand at the Botanics John Hope Gateway between 1and 4pm Wednesday to Sunday to discuss the birds.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

10 comments:

Naquillity said...

sounds like you've been busy in the garden and at the farm (post below). the rabbit & lamb were sweet looking. so glad to here you're learning more about which plants you can forage from. i'm sure your walks around The Water of Leith have been peaceful. hope all is well. have a great day~

Caroline Gill said...

Wow, quite a post with loads going on! The RSPB event sounded fascinating ... but I might beg to pass on one or two items in the food-for-free category!

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Very interesting, Food for Free is a book we would never part with.

Ms Sparrow said...

You are an adventurous soul to try all those "found" edibles. Who knew we have so much to eat at our feet?

Carol Steel 5050 said...

I don't know the book Food for Free but will certainly look it up now. I have to admit to being nervous about foraging as I don't always know what I'm looking at.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Ms Sparrow - we were with an expert so we could be confident!

Carol - Food for Free is very useful for foraging in the UK (and probably Europe), less so elsewhere! I would be unsure sometimes too though its easy to learn what would be harmful!

Sallie (FullTime-Life.com said...

Wow that breakfast sounds wonderful -- what fun stuff to learn. (I too am a wild berry forager, but that's about all.) what a couple of great events. That Garden is a happening place!

Dartford Warbler said...

I love foraging for new edible leaves to add to salads or home made soup. Your day sounds really interesting.

Sparrow Hawks are beautiful birds but I hate seeing them snatch an unwary songbird out of the garden.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Some of our workparties have avid foragers along. Nibble nibble is plenty for me - unless it is berries!!!!

Here we use Sparrowhawk and American Kestrel for the same bird. My birder friend always points out "our smallest raptor" and reminds me that it always perches on the lowest point of the electric wire!

Sandy's witterings said...

The botanics is a fairly regular haunt for us - it really is the most delightful of gardens. never made it for breakfast though!
Interesting to hear that they've got some sparrowhawks - I'll keep my eyes open for them the next time I'm about. I was quite cuffed to spot a woodpecker at his nest (well - hole in a tree)a couple of weeks ago there.