I went on a foraging course lead by foraging king Miles Irving the other weekend. I was wondering what on earth there would be to forage in London but in the space of two hours we didn’t move more than a few metres and learned about the joys of hairy bittercress, water mint, king cup, yarrow, hoary mustard, wild rocket, wild lettuce, chickweed, sow thistle, procumbent yellow sorrel, clover, mugwort, lady’s bedstraw, dock, fat hen, nettles and much more.
I’ll never look at weeds in the same way again, but the real revelation of the day was King Henry’s Walk community garden. It was created a few years back on previously derelict land, with the support of my favourite London council, Islington, and run by volunteers. It has around 75 plots, much smaller and therefore more manageable than the average allotment, all looking artfully abundant and tended by bicycling locals. There are also some raised beds for less able users (pictured), a greenhouse, storage areas and a learning centre. The place is teeming with wildlife.
The garden has won a bucketful of awards, including two RHS London in Bloom awards, and rightly so. I know I keep banging on about this, but there is more land than we think that can be cultivated out there – it just takes some imagination and dedication.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off for some meadowsweet custard and a hawthorn tea.