It’s hard to choose the prettiest time of year in this part of the world as there are so many… but at present, wild garlic is in flower alongside bluebells, wild violets and celandines and the effect is stunning! And not only does it look gorgeous, the garlic gives off a wonderfully pungent scent too.
This smell has helped wild garlic earn a number of strange names over the years - 'bear's garlic', 'devil's garlic', 'gypsy's onions' and 'stinking Jenny' are just some of them.
It’s not as strong as cultivated garlic but it’s edible and free and adds a lovely soft ‘oniony’ tone to salads. Unlike common cultivated garlic, it's the leaves that are eaten rather than the bulbs. The taste is more delicate too, similar to the flavour of chives.
The flowers are so pretty (part of the allium family) and edible that you can use those too, strewn across a salad.
There are lots of wild garlic recipes available online so why not experiment? Don’t be put off, it is so much milder than cultivated garlic you can afford to be bold with it.
However, think twice before growing it in your garden. Wild garlic spreads by the production of underground bulbs and can become a problem. It will also carry on growing quite happily in your compost heap, so beware!
Photographs courtesy of Julia Wherrell