Wild Garlic and Shinrin-yoku

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Allium Ursium - Wild garlic or wood garlic is in full force right now carpeting my favourite little bit of local woodland in a knee deep carpet of lush green. The delicate star like flowers hover above the fleshy leaves turning the green to  fresh carpet of white as they open. For me this is such an exciting sight and a real indicator that spring is well and truly here, despite it's rather bumpy start this year. It also opens up a whole host of possibilities in the kitchen, I'm a huge fan of Garlic in all my savory cooking.  Old recipes to bring out from the back of the book shelf and new ones to explore.

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I have to admit it's been a while since I've taken the time to just be in a forest and wading through garlic surrounded by it's heady scent in the sunshine was bliss. A friend and I went to do a bit of a photo shoot at the same time as harvesting and we both totally lost track of time. These longer lighter days have thrown my body clock way out of whack, in a good way. We spent hours wandering through the trees getting creative with our cameras and filling my basket with fresh green leaves. It dawned on me how much I'd missed spending time in nature like this, completely in the moment and at peace. It was refreshing and revitalizing triggering a memory from one of Monty Don's TV shows. During one of his programs on a trip in Japan he mentioned they have something there called Shinrin-yoku, forest bathing. I remember that at the time I thought is was an amazing idea. The act of just immersing yourself in nature was something I unwittingly did while gardening but I had wanted to try and explore its concept more. Unfortunately life got in the way and the idea got pushed to the back of my mind. 

Go to a Forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses.
This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy, 
the medicine of simply being in the forest.

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It is such a simple idea, to reconnect with nature, be present and slow down allowing the hustle to melt away. Yet with such a fast paced modern world it's hard to slow down, truly engage and notice the little things. It's something I would highly recommend though as it's helped me to put things back into perspective. It's so easy to allow life to overwhelm us and get caught up in all the little negative things thrown our way. So this weekend try to find some time if you can to take some time to reconnect with nature and do a bit of forest bathing, with your clothes on. 

A note on foraging: When foraging it's essential to be completely certain of what you are harvesting. If you have even a little bit of doubt then leave it be. There are a number of courses that you can find for foraging where you can learn exactly what to look out for. Also please be sensitive about how much you harvest, be gentle on the environment that's providing for you. Don't harvest any more than you need and also remember to leave some to self sow next year.

All the delicate white flower buds from the garlic went into a wonderful pickling recipe I found on the inspiring The Seasonal Table's Instagram and blog. They have so many exciting and tasty seasonal recipes I'd highly recommend you try out.

Eating seasonally is so rewarding, it gives you a real appreciation for the freshest flavours and textures. I promise you won't look back as each season gives you something new to look forward to.