Additional winter pounds. Broken resolutions. Dark nights. Short days. The new year for some is a time to wallow in the regret of winter over indulgence. Yet, as days begin to stretch out there’s a sigh of relief feeling the inevitable Spring galloping over the horizon. The cyclical seasons drive on and familiar friends begin to appear again.
From a mild winter on the west coast a world of fresh shoots and greens are emerging across the island. Along the riverside the three-cornered leeks (Allium triquetrum) are the peering though the leaf litter. Some patches are a little behind others we know but a few springs tossed into the dinner salad make for a delicious seasonal allium addition.
Shining the shoreline, amongst the craggy rocks and on sandy patches inbetween, there are healthy looking scurvy grass (Cochlearia officinalis). Part of the mustard family they can add a little (read a lot of) pep to your seashore walk. It’s a strong mustard hit, you might want to introduce yourself to tentatively if you’ve never before.
Buck’s-horn plaintain (Plantago coronopus)
A little salty, nutty taste on the beach also come from the vibrant rosettes of Plantago coronopus, Buck’s-horn plantain. Best before it flowers, the aptly named antler like leaves are a good winter green.
A very exciting discovery this month was ‘rainbow wrack’ (Cystoseira tamariscifolia). Having stared into rock pools many a time and never seen it (or noticed perhaps) before it was a revelation. Watching the shining blue tips in the pool and then gently lifting the fronds above the waters, suddenly the colour was gone!? Intrigue and confusion lead to searching for answers…
Islay juniper is no longer widespread as it once was (read more), but once you get your eye in to look for it, it can leave you springing across rivers and bogs to look closer. This rather windswept patch is clinging onto a rock face in a rather precarious position above some brackish waters on the island’s coast. This week James hopes to be heading out to check on the Juniper (Juniperus communis ssp.nana) plants he has been tending and raising this past year.
Snowy hilltops across Loch Indaal
A brief cold snap lent itself to unusual snowy and conditions on the island. We don’t often get snow here thanks to the ever present Gulf Stream keeping us in milder (and wetter) conditions. With temperatures around 0º the sunrises on the snow clouds led to some of the most spectral sunrises we’ve seen. Less inviting to go out and forage in but a reflective blanket to look to and remember, it’s a beautiful planet we life on.
SPRING IS COMING
In the next few weeks we’ll start to see more gorse flower coming, wild garlic up further, bittercress in more abundance for egg sandwiches, almond Rowan buds and much more as the ground comes back to life a little more… keep looking.