Horseradish western ‘Wasabi’ superfood.

This spicy member of the Brassica family, Cabbage, radish, broccoli, etc. Is grown for its hot pungent root. It can grow up to 4.5 feet with large wide leaves, and small white flowers on spikes. It is a perennial, and needs winter dormancy. When the leaves die down the root is harvested for culinary uses, the crown can be replanted to grow again, in fact it can be quite invasive, it grows in any type of moist rich soil.

The grated peeled root, should be used immediately or kept refrigerated for a couple of weeks. Make some horseradish cream with creme fresh, lemon, salt and plenty of finely grated root, it goes great with roasts, hams, cooked veg, mash.

Add it to mayo, ketchup or mustard, to give them a kick. It’s great with smoked salmon or trout, and is an essential ingredient in Gravlax curing preserve, with salt, sugar, pepper, lemon peel, dill, grated raw beetroot, juniper berries, or whatever takes your fancy, add it to raw salmon fillet, and press in the refrigerator for a few days till cured

Really we should eat this superfood more often, make tea from the flowers for a cold or the root to loosen a dry cough. Grind up the root to a pulp and apply it sparingly to aching joints, always try a small amount first in case of sensitivity. The raw leaves also have pain relieving properties. Compounds called glucosinolates have been discovered in a much higher concentration (10X) in horseradish than other Brassicas and to have anti cancer and detoxifying properties, against harmful chemicals.

A rub made with olive oil is great for warming up cold hands and feet.

More in flower.

Walk by a bed of these briefly flowering native Primulas and the air is filled with the sweetest fragrance reminiscent of confectionery. Before over picking there were carpets of these on woodland floors, taking the opportunity of no leaf canopy to flower and pollinate in the warming spring sun. They easily set seed and spread with plantlets. They have a panacea of herbal properties and the leaves and flowers are edible. As with all plants allergies and misidentification can lead to serious ill health. Further interesting facts can be found here. http://wightdruids.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=109&Itemid=126

The lesser periwinkle, flowers prolifically along our hedgerows now and throughout the year. It’s blue violet flowers last for ages and it can be left to it’s own devices, for more on periwinkle  go to our plant index.

Forsythia, is always first to put on a show in the spring garden

Don’t forget to prune after flowering as it flowers on last year’s growth. Bring in a few branches in a vase to light up the room.

What’s in flower now?

In our UK 100 year old garden there is a surprising number of plants in bloom at this time of year, however very few insects to pollinate them, so sometimes you need to help the plants along, like this early  plum. Use a very soft brush or downy feather, it will improve cropping. I also do it with my peaches in the poly-tunnel, although leaving the doors open this time of year (if temp is not freezing) can help. My favourite flowering tree of all is this magical Umeboshi plum Prunus Ume.

This is actually more related to the apricot, and has a most heavenly scent. The fruit it produces can be preserved and have many health benefits.

It is pickled, salted or dried,

Their health benefits from recent studies include; Inhibition of H. Pylori bacteria which are implicated in gastritis and ulcers, dental disease and prevention of tooth decay and tests with rats show it has a remarkable effect on endurance exercising of skeletal muscle, so could help athletes!

It can be made into syrup just jar equal weight of sugar to plum and leave for 100 days.  Seeping the plums in vodka or rice liquor, produces a smooth fortified plum wine.  It makes a delicious plum sauce, cooked with sugar, vinegar, spices including ginger, great with poultry dishes.

It’s Mystical and cultural significance in Asia is second to none. Being depicted in ancient art and poetry for centuries. It’s flowering even in snow gives it a surreal and heavenly quality, and its fragrance seems to pervade the whole garden on the coldest of days. It has long represented endurance, perseverance and hope.

In Japan it is often referred to in Haiku poetry and a symbol of protection against evil, planted facing north east, the direction from which it comes.

Nothing is more representative of late winter than the Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis, which has naturalized itself in our garden thankfully avoiding disturbance over the many years.

The plant produces a chemical Galantamine, which is used in Alzheimer’s disease to slow progression.

Ferns

Hiding in the shadows where would we be without them? For they are mostly responsible for our fossil fuels. Dominating the plant kingdom 350 million years ago, their decay on the forest floor piled up many miles thick and super compressed over millions of years storing their captured carbon which now wreaks havoc on our climate.pollution-87683_1920

Ferns are widespread throughout many habitats, from tropical rainforest to arctic alpine situations, desert scrub lands to coastal niches, they like a shady moist spot, and are prized for their architectural foliage adding an exotic jungle feel to any garden.palm-fern-1367904_1920

They also vary in size, from tiny 1-2mm plants to giant tree ferns over 30 metres in height, there are over 9000 species, most are found in the tropics. Some are edible appetite-1239161_1920

And many have medicinal properties, their generic names reflecting the area of the body they acted on i.e. Asplenium the spleen, Maidenhair for baldness. Therapeutic properties range from antiworming-vermifuge, antiarthritic, cough remedies and topically such as an ointment made from the fronds of Harts tongue fern for burns and scalds, always consult a medical herbalist to try any of these.fern-195876

Ash derived from burning bracken is a very rich source of potash, although avoid inhaling the spores by using a fire bin to first dry the green fronds which are the richest source and avoiding introducing it into your garden. This abundant resource could be commercially harvested and processed, thereby controlling this rampant weed.

water-1697311_1920I think no garden should be without one of our 45 native species, creating a great backdrop for herbaceous plants such as Solomon’s seal or bleeding hearts. bleeding-hearts-1391321_1920

Glory Bush, Tibouchina

Any one who sees this exotic from Brazil in bloom will instantly adore it, the delicate vivid purple flowers always impress, they are usually abundant from late summer onwards in the U.K. as  light levels fall, and attract many butterflies. The leaves are soft and velvity, tinged with red on the edges.

flower-940250_1920It has a vine like growth pattern and can be trained up a trellis on a sunny wall, it can grow to about 5 metres, but can also be pruned into a more compact shape.  Water freely in spring sparingly in winter, but don’t let it stand in water, and it needs frost protection.

Treat as a House plant in colder climates and if it does die back due to cold or drought do not despair just water and usually new tiny shoots appear on the cinnamon coloured stems. It loves a rich fertile soil but will tolerate most soil types. It is an essential for the Tropical or subtropical garden.4273094211_c8a3ae2812_b