Wild Garlic, Bikes and Bluebells

Saturday, 15th April 2006

wild garlicCoxley beckTexas . . . the Peak District . . . but I don't remember the last time we walked around our home patch. We set off through the wood this afternoon where the wild garlic, also known as ramsons, is now lushly green. The white flowers have yet to appear.

I pause and look at the spreading area of ramsons and willows, which was just an open grassy clearing by the stream when we moved here 23 years ago. I like to remind myself that somewhere wildflowers are on the increase. They're even poking their leaves up at the bottom of the high fence around the new housing development.

Bluebells v. Bikes

bluebellbikeIn the quarry area there was a bank of bluebells that had escaped the tracks of mountain bikes which have worn down the old banks of quarry waste, which were once covered with bluebells. The network of bike trackways cut down to the clayey subsoil and then joined up to leave the whole slope bare.

This particular bank had survived because it was too steep - as steep as a step-ladder - for even the keenest biker to descend. However the bikes themselves are only half the problem. During school holidays you'll see boys taking spades into the wood with them. As the exposed subsoil is so clayey they prefer quantities of woodland soil to make ramps to run bikes over. So they've chopped into the banking and destroyed the bluebells. It used to be so green in there. It's so scarred now.

jack by the hedge Jack-by-the-Hedge

Down by the canal there's another type of garlic, no relative of ransoms, just coming into leaf; jack-by-the-hedge, also known as garlic-mustard, Alliaria petiolata. The white flowers haven't appeared yet but its good to see the fresh green leaves; a taste of things to come.

swanThe swans are nesting again. The female (the pen) is on the large twiggy nest at the canal's edge by some willows while the male (the cob) is patrolling, wings raised above his back, head arched as if he means business, 300 yards downstream, near the post the RSPB had erected when storks started nesting on a power line pole two years ago this month. This was the first record of storks building a nest in Britain since medieval times. Next Page

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk