Foraging Experiences at Woodside

We were delighted that guest forager, Jonathan of HartyCulture, led foraging experiences as part July’s mini garden festival. We are hoping he will be joining us again in September, so I thought you might like to read his summary of the day’s sessions.

Foraging Experiences in July

“We had great fun on our voyages of discovery and they were enjoyed by young and old alike. We hardly had to leave the car park with so much there to discuss and digest.

We started off with the wild Geranium family, finding a few varieties of cranesbill, which is handy for anyone with radiation poisoning, heavy metal toxicity or sows scouring. The pineapple weed was as popular a surprise as ever, with one lady aptly asking, “What was it called before they discovered pineapples?” I didn’t and still don’t know, but we then spotted some escaping apple mint, which saved face. Great crop of edible hogweed, which we didn’t touch due to potential photo toxicity. Their broccoli heads were mainly out and the cumin replacement seeds will be ready to harvest soon. The ground elder is starting to flower, which brings it into the danger zone of umbellifer confusion with hemlock; however the celery like, unstained grooved stems of the goutweed was safely sampled by all.

Disappointingly, there weren’t too many nettles, but I rattled on about their many benefits anyway; sure the Red Admiral has to lay her eggs somewhere after floating up from the Med. Nevertheless we found some supertall ones down by the stream along St. Cuthbert’s way, which would be great for cordage. Masses of marestail, great for so many things. We haven’t run out of oil yet, there’s 500 million years of giant equisetum during the carboniferous period to thank for that, however I suspect Emma wouldn’t object to a pet dinosaur keeping it under control. It’s high levels of silica perfectly compliment the bone knitting properties of the comfrey, flowering among the bees buzzing in a corner near the white willow, which is good for everyone and nearly every ailment.

The beech leaves have gone well chewy and was disappointed not to find any porcelain mushrooms growing on the fallen ones. Loads of yew down the woods, which is exciting in chemotherapy and the brave had their heads blown off by green wild garlic seeds. Wood avens in abundance for those with mouth ulcers. Found my first wonder violet among the hazel and lime trees. Some huge wellingtonias, great for totem poles and a sweet chestnut too.There was so much on offer: St. John’s wort, green alkanet, hedge woundwort, common nipplewort, wood-rush, flowering currant, Leopard’s-bane, burdock, ladies mantle, even primrose, which we resisted sampling due to scarcity.

However there was no scarcity of wild strawberries, with banks full of them, but we did keep running out of time, which might have made some late for their lunch, but thankfully no one complained of hunger and for those who mentioned friends and family who would be keen to come too, all being well, I’ll be back to Scotland in September, which will bring a whole new element to the harvest.”

Booking for September Foraging

If that report has tickled the taste buds, please sign up to the newsletter to be the first to hear about the date in September.

Numbers will be limited so I reccomend early booking once details have been released.

About Jonathan

Jonathan is usually based in Northern Ireland, so we are very lucky to be able to book his expertise to share with Woodside customers. Established in 2007, HartyCulture is a family-run business based in the heart of the beautiful orchards of County Armagh, Northern Ireland, offering a wide spectrum of horticultural and landscaping services to private, public and third sector clients, with a focus on quality, sustainability and listening to our customers’ requirements.  They have also contributed a regular gardening column to the lifestyle magazine “Flavour”, and always enjoy presenting to community and other groups on areas of horticultural interest.  Most recently, they have introduced year-round Foraging and Nature Tours in a range of locations across Northern Ireland, where they explore our natural environment during a guided walk through beautiful countryside.


This blog was updated on 16th July to include the July session report.


Photo by Cam James on Unsplash