Posts tagged ‘wild flowers’

August 23, 2013

Burnets- Greater Burnet in the the wild and great burnets for the garden

by Ciaran Burke
Sanguisorba officinalis growing amongst trees at Lough conn, Co. mayo, Ireland

Sanguisorba officinalis growing amongst trees at Lough Conn, Co. mayo, Ireland

Recently while I was researching a plant profile article on the genus of Sanguisorba for The Irish Garden magazine, I consulted my old and slightly battered copy of Webb’s Irish Flora. This versatile and showy genus of plants has two Irish natives amongst its members. The salad burnet, S. minor, which is small and not very attractive, although useful as a salad ingredients, and the taller more showy greater burnet, S. officinalis. According to the old book, S. officinalis is not widely encountered, populations are confined to the north east of the island and also the shores of Liugh Cullin and Lough Conn, in my county of residence, County Mayo. Lough Conn attracts visitors for fishing and I would guess not so many plant hunters, on a cloudy August afternoon we set off to see if we could encounter, the greater burnet, S. officinalis, growing and flowering in its native habitat.

Shore line at Lough Conn, Co. mayo. In amongst the trees, Sanguisorba officinalis grows and flowers in stone covered soil.

Shore line at Lough Conn, Co. mayo. In amongst the trees, Sanguisorba officinalis grows and flowers in stone covered soil.

Lough Conn, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Lough Conn, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Our searches at a few places on Lough Cullin gave us no reward. We continued our search at Lough Conn, both lakes are separated by only a narrow strip of land. At our first Lough Conn stop we drove down a bumpy gravel road with a healthy sward of grass along the centre.

Shore of Lough Conn, Co. mayo with view of Nephin Mountain

Shore of Lough Conn, Co. Mayo with view of Nephin Mountain

We hopped out and strolled across the pebbled covered beach, past purple loosestrife and knapweeds flowering along the shore. We ventured into some sparse woodland, here native species of willow, ash and alder grew between stones. The water lapped the peacefully and a breeze made a lively yet soothing rustle with the leaves. The world was t peace around me, then the silence was broken, a triumphant shout from my Hanna, my wife, the greater burnet had been found.

Sanguisorba officinalis flowering at Lough Conn, Co. mayo

Sanguisorba officinalis flowering at Lough Conn, Co. Mayo

It is not often that you encounter a fashionable herbaceous perennial that is a native to these shores. Sanguisorba officinalis bears its tight clustered flowers in dense dark purple spikes on top of wiry swaying stems. Its appeal is simple and seductive, possessing an elegant reserved charm. The increasing popularity of the genus amongst gardeners reflects tastes of our time. The burnets are perfect for placing in naturalistic planting schemes, prairie planting and floral meadows where structure and texture matter more the flamboyance and brash colours.

Sanguisorba hakuasanensis var. japonica flower close-up flowering in our garden

Sanguisorba hakuasanensis var. japonica flower close-up flowering in our garden

In our own garden we grow quite a few species and hybrids. Earlier in the summer, S. ‘Pink Elephant’ and S. tenuifolia ‘Alba’ entertained us with their swaying displays of flowery haze. Now the pink fluffy heads of S. obtusa swing lightly in the breeze, while the even fluffier S. hakuasanensis var. japonica, which we brought from a nursery in Finland a couple of years ago, shimmers its stamens along an erect infloresence. In the garden there is the cool S. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’, and in a raised bed the carpeting green mound of S. ‘Tanna’ has been flowering for a couple of months, its flowers like a cloud of purple bumble bees. Burnets, the greater burnet and many others are just, great!

Sanguisorba 'Tanna' flowers flowring in our garden in a raised bed

Sanguisorba ‘Tanna’ flowers flowring in our garden in a raised bed

Sanguisorba obtusa flowering in our garden, it grows in a poor stoney soil

Sanguisorba obtusa flowering in our garden, it grows in a poor stoney soil

Sanguisorba 'Rock 'n' Roll'  flowering in our front garden.

Sanguisorba ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ flowering in our front garden.

Achillea ptarmica flowering at Lough Cullin, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Achillea ptarmica flowering at Lough Cullin, Co. Mayo, Ireland

View wild Irish native plants and some scenery photos of Lough Cullin, Co. Mayo on my Photoshelter site

The August issue of The irish Garden features my plant profile article on Erigeron, and the forthcoming September isuue will be in the shops very soon. THE IRISH GARDEN MAGAZINE

October 2, 2012

Wild Carrot Seed Spice Cake – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke

Wild Carrot Seed Spice Cake

We have collected quite a bunch of wild carrot seeds from along the bog road that leads to our house. It is a quiet road which does not have much traffic travelling along it. The concave seed heads make them easy to identify and they are quick to pick. Harvest them when dry and remove from the infloresence. Store them in a box in a cool dry place.

Hanna baked a delicious cake using the seeds.

 

Wild Carrot Seed Spice Cake – Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 125g Butter
  • 1 Cup of dark muscavado sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • 150ml of kefir (or buttermilk)
  • 200ml of wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp of cried ginger
  • 3tsp of ground wild carrot sed
  • pinch of salt

Method

  1. Melt Butter and sugar
  2. When cooled ad spices and kefir
  3. In a separate bowl mix the flour with soda and baking powder with pinch of salt then whisk in the egg.
  4. Add the flour mix to butter mixture.
  5. Fold in the flour.
  6. Put into cake tin, sprinkle some whole wild carrot seeds over the top and bake at 175 degrees Celcius for about 50 minutes.

Wild Carrot Seed Spice Cake

Kefir is a fermented milk  originating in the North Caucasus region where it was commonly used by shepherds. Traditional kefir was made in animal skin bags that were hung near a doorway where by it would be knocked against by anyone entering, this would ensure that the milk would be mixed well with the kefir grains. The kefir grains are produced during the fermentation process, a small amount of kefir acts as a starter for the next batch. Luckily you don’t have to be a shepherd or have an animal skin bag to have kefir. It is sold in Polish and Eastern European food shops. In the recipe above kefir can be replaced with Buttermilk.

Daucus carota- Wild carrot seed heads on our road

May 20, 2012

Spruce Shoot Jam – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
New spruce shoots

New spruce shoots

Spruce trees are a common site in the west of Ireland, not just as part of the alien forestry that covers much of the land, but also you see groups of old trees close to houses, derelict old cottages and lived in houses like ours.

Spruce trees beside our house

Spruce trees beside our house

That is exactly what we have close to our house, very close. I guess that these spruce trees were originally planted so as to provide shelter from the frequent and strong west winds.Now they have grown tall and cast a shadow over the garden in the evening time. We plant exotic woodland species under them, and hostas thrive there.

The species often seen is Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis, a fast growing species. It is the most widely planted forestry tree, a non-native species that is controversial. It is favoured by forestry companies due to its rapid growth but it does not do much for enriching the wildlife of the country. Beneath them nothing grows and they have a big impact on acidification of soils.

Spruce trees are a common sight in the west of Ireland

Spruce trees are a common sight in the west of Ireland

Spruce has been traditionally used as a cough syrup, in fact it is sold in health food shops in that form. Spruce syrup can be made which is quite tasty and sweet and also spruce cordial. I made the cordial which is very nice and refreshing when diluted with sparkling water. The spruce shoot jam is very good too, an almost caramel like flavour with a hint of, spruciness…

 

To make the jam I first cooked the spruce shoots in water, i used about 2 cups of shoots and covered them with water and cooked simmered for about four hours. After it cooled overnight I strained it through a muslin cloth and then kept the spruce liquid in the fridge.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of spruce concentrate (see above)
  • 3 Large dessert apples, peeled, cored and chopped finely
  • 2 bottles (2 x 360ml) of apple juice concentrate
  • Juice of one lemon

Method:

  1. Wash the spruce shoots in cold water
  2. Add the apples, lemon juice and fruit concentrate to the saucepan
  3. Cook with a medium heat until the apple pieces are soft (about 15 minutes)
  4. Add the spruce concentrate
  5. Turn up the heat and cook until the jam starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes
  6. Spoon or pour into sterilized jam jars and put lids on straight away

This made three jars of jam.

Fresh new growths in May on spruce tree

Fresh new growths in May on spruce tree

May 19, 2012

Primrose Petal Jam– Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
Petals in measuring jug

Petals in measuring jug

Primroses carpet the ground under an old hawthorn tree in our garden, the clothe the soil with a fragility and light, their gentle perfume is a delight. Primula vulgaris is a native plant, a wild flower that is always welcome in our garden. Each year they bring freshness and beauty to the Spring.

Their flowers appear delicate but they are robust plants. The petals of each flower untie at their bases to form a narrow tube that attached to the green stalk. Given a gentle tug, they detach easily from their bases. You can munch them and they taste nice, an unique flavour. I imagined a jam made from them…

Primrose flowers

Primrose flowers

Based on recipes for rose petal jelly and adapted to include some apple for abit of body here is a jam I made from primroes petals gathered in our garden last weekend. It is deilcious, a flavour which is a mix of fruity sweetness and a late hint of turkish delight…

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre of primrose flowers. When foraging for wild food, do not collect flowers, leaves or fruits from beside busy roads, or areas where they are exposed to possible pollution.
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1½ cup of fruit sugar Ii used Fruisana, a fructose based sugar which is lower in calories and has a lower GI rating than ordinary sugar).
  • 2 Apples, peeled, cored and diced finely
  • Juice of one lemon
Primrose flowers in saucepan

Primrose flowers in saucepan

Method:

  1. Wash the flowers in cold water.
  2. Add the flowers petals, water, lemon juice and apple pieces into a saucepan
  3. Cook with a medium heat until the apple pieces are soft (about 15 minutes)
  4. Slowly add the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved
  5. Turn up the heat and cook until the jam starts to thicken, about 25-20 minutes
  6. Spoon or pour into sterilized jam jars and put lids on straight away

This made nearly two jars of jam.

pouring Jam into a jar

pouring Jam into a jar

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

April 30, 2012

Spicy Fried Dandelion Flowers – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
15 - Spicy Fried Dandelion Flowers

Spicy Fried Dandelion Flowers

Dandelions, Taraxacum officinale , are the bane of many a gardener’s life. They pop up everywhere, their happy flower heads cheekily appearing in the lawn, in the borders and even in the driveway. They are however nice flowers, they spread like a golden coat over the spring green fields at this time of year. Soon their fluffy seedheads will take to the wind, only to settle in gardens, roadsides and fields. There the seeds will germinate and grow a deep tap root that breaks when gardeners pull them out. Even a small portion of the root remaining in the soil can grow back to taunt us. Well, revenge never tasted so good…

Dandelion flowers in the colander

Dandelion flowers in the colander

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 30 dandelion flowers, collected when fully open and fresh. When foraging for wild food, do not collect flowers, leaves or fruits from beside busy roads, or areas where they are exposed to possible pollution.
  • ½ cup of flower, we used wholegrain spelt.
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of coriander
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • pinch of chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying, we used rapeseed oil.
11 - Fry the flowers until golden brown (2-3 minutes)

Fry the flowers until golden brown (2-3 minutes)

Method:

  1. Remove the green calyx from the backs of each flower (that is the green leafy bits attached to the base of the flower).
  2. Wash the flowers in cold water. Don’t dry them.
  3. Mix spices in a bowl with the flour.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  5. Dip each flower into the flour and spice mixture and place flower side down on the pan, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Fry until golden brown and turn the flowers over, let them brown, another 2 minutes.
  7. Remove from the pan and drain on a sheet of kitchen towel.
  8. Eat immediately, savour the flavour and think of all the dandelions that wont be growing in your garden next year!
14 - Drain the fried dandelion flowers on a piece of kitchen towel

Drain the fried dandelion flowers on a piece of kitchen towel

A tasty snack in the evening after pulling weeds in the garden for a few hours.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

%d bloggers like this: