All night it poured with rain. All through breakfast it continued. I was sure there would be cancellations. I checked my emails and listened for the phone.... then they started to arrive; early, happy, laden with home-made food and drinks to share. Before long the clouds lifted and as we stood in my lawn, while Jilli gave us her introduction to the world of weeds and herbs through human history, I thought to myself how wonderful it is here.... how lovely the people are..... how they turn up prepared for any weather...how generous they are..... how lucky I am to have Jilli as a neighbour.
We set off to Jilli's and spent a good hour and a half delighting in her amazing knowledge of English edibles which now run rampant in our gardens. Jilli's garden follows the same creek as flows through my garden and on the banks of it she has naturalized what we generally call weeds but are, in fact, the staple foods of the peasants of England for thousands of years. Here we all are, walking beside the trickling stream and looking for the little orange markers Jilli had used to mark the plants we were learning about.....
|Telling the difference between Dandelion and.... || Cat's Ear, for example....|
|Jilli's newest composting method is this woven design from Suweto. ||Then back at my place for a shared lunch....|
Jilli had made stinging nettle soup, using the large, English nettles from her garden but I have the smaller, Tasmanian nettles in mine. The soup went so fast that this is all that was left on the hotplate of the gas BBQ for a photo!
I made a dip which started out being chickweed pesto but, oh lalala, I had an embarrassing number of disasters while making it and thought it was ruined..... but people loved it and even asked for the recipe!
Amanda is a blogger who came all the way from Hobart and brought this fabulous elderflower cordial (quite different to Deb's divine nectar but equally as delicious), amongst other things. She has a great blog called Gourmet Gatherer. Since she is new to blogging, do call in on her and say hello. I was lucky to get this photo of Fern and John with the cordial because it too disappeared in no time!
Jilli provided us with handouts for the weeds we happily now call friends, and even recipes to make sure we enjoy them in our everyday lives as well as a comprehensive reading list.
This kind of knowledge is invaluable for we Australians who have no tradition of eating from our own wild places, having scoffed for too long, over the last 2 centuries, at the Aboriginal people who knew the land and Australia's own wild edibles. We must now learn to eat weeds from other countries, gathered in our own gardens, and to find what knowledge we can about edible Tasmanian plants.... including a native elderberry and a raspberry found in the forests.