Summer seems to be here, premiered by a carpet of green

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One of the most evocative experiences of late spring and early summer, is a walk through woodland filled with wild garlic, on a sunny day.

Although the latter has been scarce of late, the sun shone at the weekend and my own patch of riverside woodland was at its glorious best.

The smell is the first thing to assail the senses, then the carpet of white pom-pom shaped flowers provides a feast for the eyes.

Like other members of the onion family, wild garlic grows from a bulb and smells strongly.

This quality means that it has had many culinary and herbal uses over the centuries.

The second part of its scientific name Allium ursinum , comes from the Latin for bear, pertaining to either its pungent smell or the apparent fondness bears have for it.

Here, its common name is Ramsons, probably a corruption of ram’s horns.

Its health benefits are indicated in this old rhyme:

Eat leeks in March and Ramsons in May,

And all the year after, physicians may play.

Its leaves are edible; they can be used as salad, spice, boiled as a vegetable, in soup, or as an ingredient for pesto in lieu of basil.

The stems are preserved by salting and eaten as a salad in Russia.

The bulbs and flowers are also edible, though less famed for their taste than the leaves.

Watch out, however, if you are gathering leaves to eat, if it is growing near Lily-of-the-Valley. The leaves of this plant are similar, but are deadly poisonous.

I promised a couple of weeks ago that I would keep you up to date with the progress of the blackbirds nesting in my back garden nest box. It is a mixture of good news and bad.

Just over a week ago, a carrion crow swooped down right before my eyes and made off with one of the four eggs.

I knew it would be back for the rest, so I went to get some chicken wire to rig up some sort of barrier.

“While I was doing that it returned and made off with a second one.

I watched anxiously after I rigged up the wire, as the female blackbird struggled to find the way in through the mesh.

Eventually, she got the hang of it and resumed brooding the last two eggs.

The crow has been back, but so far has failed to negotiate the barrier. The last time I looked, at the weekend there was two newly-hatched chicks.

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