This week, I am with my family in the UK. We began the visit on Tuesday with a stroll around the harbour area of my birthtown Bristol. What a pleasure to be there! In addition to the whole harbour area being very spruced up since I lived there, the weather is exceptional for this time of year; beautiful sunshine, stunning skies and it is warm – well for February anyway!
After a peek at the SS Great Britain, visiting a great whole food store (which sells oxalis tubers to eat!) and filling our bellies with fish and chips at Wrapping Warf , we wandered around the Arnolfini and Watershed areas.
I took a few snaps of edibles which I noticed along the way. The place is very tidy, and popular so most of the plants that I found are resilient perennials. Just look at this little beauty: Ivy Leaved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis), sometimes called the Climbing Sailor which makes it so suitable for this nautical location! What lovely geranium-like rubbery leaves. I do enjoy a nibble on this sort-of-cress-tasting-plant when I find it growing abundantly. Today was neither the time nor place so the plants spotted in Bristol, carving out a quiet existence in the ship shape hustle and bustle, were left in peace.
Now, along this old railway track – a remnant of the old coal dock, I did find a lovely (if small) selection of urban edibles including Herb Robert (Geranium robertum), Chickweed (Stellaria media) and Mugwort (Artemisia vulgare).
And here some of what I believe is Common Mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum). Very pretty, clustered chickweed-like flowers, bouncing in the breeze, a top leafless stalks. I find this a stunning little edible. Darned tasty (if a little hairy on the tongue) and very fertile. So, if you can access one in a location that it flavours, you will not go hungry.
The only place that I found around the harbour which was worthy of some urban herb harvesting was on the sloping path that runs towards the little ferry (to the SS Great Britain). There is a quiet green patch, full of brambles, stinging nettle and other lovelies. The plants are starting to build their foliage now so best left for now but in a month or so, that patch should be brimming with nettle tops and bramble buds. I find Bramble leaf buds a great source of fruity-tannic flavour, vitamins and minerals. By shrewd nibbing-out of buds, you can control the growth of a bramble patch in seconds whilst building up an interesting wild tea in your caddy.
So that was my little February Bristol Harbour edibles wander. I am in Chepstow now, thoroughly enjoying the sounds, sights, taste and company. Will try to make a compilation of Chepstow forage-ables, before the week is out.
If you want to learn about the edibles growing near you, how to ID, safely & ethically forage and how to include them in your life, take a look at my course. I would love to help you along your urban herbology journey!