It does finally feel that winter is behind us, and the abundance and energy of the spring has arrived. This is a fantastic time of year to flee the urban streets of a weekend and strike out to your nearest place of wildness – jump on a train or walk from where you live (!) and take a pilgrimage to the countryside to gather nettles and cleavers (see our knockout DIY recipe for Nettle & Cleaver Juice).
This month’s celebration is one of the most exciting of the Celtic Calendar: Yup it’s Beltain: that fire jumping night, you know the night of the ‘greenwood marriage’ between the horned god and the fertility goddess…This falls on the eve of May Day and is the perfect night for a barefoot dance in the garden, a party on the theme of a masquerade ball, or leaping the flames of a fire. Traditionally the first person whose gaze you catch as you leap the fire will be your beau for a year and a day.
Our easily identifiable wild edible plants in April are: common sorrel – common chickweed – beech leaves – wild garlic – garlic mustard – stinging nettles – sweet violets – hairy bittercress – hawthorne leaves – spearmint – field rose – sea beet.
Our April flower is the sweet violet, a delicate and sweetly fragranced purple beauty that shines brightly amidst the hedgerows and woodland floor. Remarkably difficult to spot due to her tiny size, she has a magnificent history and was prized for her sweetness and medicinal properties, particularly in the Victorian period.