Many of us will remember spending our childhood foraging for greengages, berries and other tasty treats. My nan lived near a large hill which was edged with endless lengths of blackberries. We would spend many a weekend visiting going to collect blackberries. My nan was quite elderly so couldn’t come with us but would enjoy our arrival on a Sunday afternoon with a bowl of fresh berries to put in a pie or a crumble. Although we all know for every one that went in the bowl, two went in the mouth.
In 1945 there was an estimated 500,000 miles of thriving hedgerow in Britain, by 1993 half of these had been destroyed in the name of agricultural improvement. My Dad remembers seeing Hop plants growing along the roads, nowadays Kent is possibly the only place you will find Wild Hops.
In recent years research has shown how important hedgerows are for a successful eco-system. Growing your own hedge supports birdlife, bees, hedgehogs and various insects bringing your garden to life and keeping unwanted pests at bay. Hedges are a colourful addition to the family and you will be rewarded with a bounty of fruit throughout the year for puddings, jams and chutneys.
A few suggestions I have to try for edible hedging are:
- Wild Cherries
- Crab Apples
Hedging such as Blackberries, Damsons, Elderberries, Sloes and Rosehips are quite prolific on road sides in the wild but always be careful what you are picking because there are berries which can be dangerous and you wouldn’t want to confuse them and give yourself a spate in hospital. I will cover Foraging in a later post.