It’s like living in Telly Tubby Land at Selkirk!

A glorious clump of red dead-nettle growing on one of  Selkirk's new flood protection banks.
A glorious clump of red dead-nettle growing on one of Selkirk's new flood protection banks.

At the time of writing, I have just received the first record of a calling cuckoo and it is snowing outside!

Yes it’s been that kind of a spring.

At the moment in Selkirk, it is like living in Telly Tubby land with grass mounds and banks everywhere in the riverside area, due to the ongoing flood protection scheme.

The bits which were finished first are already greening up, thanks to a combination of artificial re-seeding and natural regeneration.

It is interesting to see what comes through on its own accord, some seeds being already in the topsoil and possibly moved around from another area.

As well as the expected bittercress and dandelions it was interesting to see large areas of red dead-nettle coming through in one particular area.

It has a long flowering period and is normally obscured by other vegetation but here it has little competition and is quite spectacular.

The name dead-nettle comes from its similarity to the stinging nettle and its inability to sting.

Despite looking like a nettle it is not related and is in fact a member of the mint family.

It does have at least one valuable asset in that it is much loved by bumble bees and provides a vital food source for them when there is little else available.

The plant has edible leaves and flowers and these may be picked when the plant is blooming and dried for later use.

The leaves are, more or less, available all year round, which is good if you happen to cut yourself near a plant, as the leaves, bruised and placed on wounds will help to staunch the bleeding.

The leaves may be used in salads and used to flavour soups, stews and sauces, providing vitamin C, iron and fibre, among other minerals and flavonoids.

It is fascinating to learn that so many plants we now look on as weeds, were once eagerly sought out by herbalists for all kinds of remedies, some of which are still used today and it is amazing how many common weeds are edible and indeed quite tasty.