At this time of year Twitter, Facebook, Instagram et al are full of lovely photos of crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils, probably because we’ve all been starved of colour over the winter and, just like Easter eggs, they are a sure sign of spring (even when they’re poking through the snow). But what about the poor old wild garlic?
Whilst their more photogenic cousins (they’re not related) are proudly in flower, or getting ready to, the wild garlic is busy carpeting the woodland undergrowth in a thick layer of green as lush as a well-kept golf course – it stands out from the surrounding undergrowth by being much greener and lusher than anything else at this time of year.
Walk on this carpet and you’ll get a strong smell of garlic, especially on a damp day. Pick the leaves before the plant flowers, and choose from the many recipes for it (but make sure it IS garlic by its smell). If you have chickens, feed it to them to get garlic-flavoured eggs. Wait until May, and there will be a mass of tiny white flowers, at the same time as the bluebells. Then it vanishes completely until next year.
You can find patches of wild garlic all around the cycle paths, and it’s especially common on the north Edinburgh path network. Where it’s growing up on the banks, you’ll find that it has cascaded down the walls and onto the ground underneath, as it spreads like mad.
All in all, it gives crocuses a run for their money!