The recent warm weather brought with it a flurry of activity in the gardens of my neighbourhood. The annual first lawn cut was about to happen.
For an entire afternoon, the area echoed with a variety of chugging and whirring noises. Soon after, the air was filled with that gorgeous, familiar, and sweet smell of fresh cut grass.
As my nextdoor neighbour’s son was completing his perfect final stripe, my husband turned to me and sighed: “well, I suppose I best go and check the old girl is still running then”.
“Absolutely not,” I protested. “Our lawn has only just started cropping!”
You see, I have no intention of cutting our lawn just yet. I fully intend to eat most of it first!
One of the blessings of being a forager is that you no longer look at an unkempt lawn with a shudder, or as yet another chore in waiting. No, instead it is a land of opportunity and gastro delights waiting to be explored.
Since we moved into our current home several years ago, I’ve allowed the lawn – grass, moss, “weeds”, and all – to grow into late spring. It allows plants to seed, and species diversity to happen before my very eyes.
Currently, I have a healthy population of turbo charged Lady’s Smock, which gives a lovely chilli kick to a salad and works especially well as a beef garnish. My Hairy Bittercress “factory”, gives a delightful dose of flavour to my morning scrambled eggs, while a manageable mound of nature’s parsley, Ground Elder (I feel the gardeners among you shudder!), is handy for more than a couple of recipes. Beautifully flowered Dandelions and Daisies will be used in preserves and salads, and the full-flavoured salad leaf Chickweed is being used in a side dish with almost every evening meal.
In addition, this year I have discovered other lovely lawn tasties, such as Salad Burnet, zingy Common Sorrel, Honesty, and, at last, Common Hogweed. Oh, my own Common Hogweed: my favourite wild green (well, sharing the crown with wild garlic). This pleases me more than any striped croquet lawn ever would!
So, I’ll let my neighbours push their mowers back and forth over their perfect lawns. Meanwhile, I’ll be lying in my overly long grass with the bees and the butterflies looking for a tasty treat.
Kerry Bowness is one of Totally Wild UK’s foraging instructors.
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