Spring Great Plants this Month

Peltaria alliacea – (shieldwort, garlic cress)

pic of louise sims
Louise Sims

No question, it has to be an edible this week as we all try with varying degrees of success to grow our own fruit and veg. It’s odd, and rather unhelpful, that garlic cress is very difficult to source, and this I just don’t understand as it’s an easy plant to propagate, easy to grow, very decorative in and out of flower, and edible … what more could you want?!

Peltaria alliacea is a hardy perennial in the Brassica family. It is endemic to south eastern Europe but has been recorded as naturalised on the Isle of Skye. The decorative, purple flushed foliage emerges early in the year and the leaves, which have a garlicky mustard flavour, can be cooked or eaten raw in salads, but watch out as later in the year they can become bitter. The flowers, which I confess I haven’t tried, are also said to be good in salad; they are tiny, pure white and held in open panicles during May and June. Eye-catching! Cutting down the stems immediately after flowering will encourage fresh new growth.

Garlic cress is a gentle spreader for us, and it’s always easy to dig up a root for a friend; it makes good ground cover but is by no means invasive (although I cannot guarantee its good behaviour in all gardens!) It grows happily in sun or part shade to a height of around 60 cms when in flower.

 Another edible which I must mention because it’s even more delicious, but one that I would never ever introduce into any garden because it’s so invasive, is wild garlic (Allium ursinum). Found in woodland, it’s well worth seeking out: a small bunch will make an amazing pesto to have with spaghetti!

Wild garlic, best admired in woodland and not in your garden..,

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.

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By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

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