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The Art of Foraging

Welcome to the second edition of Sarah’s Secret Garden. November is upon us and it brings with it a glorious shift in the seasons. Autumn in the United Kingdom is so wonderfully exciting. It is the time of year when our natural surroundings are so abundantly fruitful, and therefore it is a great time for foraging for wild foods. It is fantastically fun, and so liberating to go out for the day into a woodland, where you will feel the crunch of the crisp, fallen leaves underfoot, and you will be surrounded by the most beautiful array of colours; red, orange and brown, with delicate tints of green, created by the leaves holding onto the last whispers of summertime. All through November you can pick sweet chestnuts, chickweed, and rosehips, to name but a few delights. November is also a great month for mushroom picking, including oyster, field  and chanterelle mushrooms, but be careful. It is important to always have a field guide with you when picking wild foods. Take your time to make sure that what you have picked is what you think it is and that it is safe to eat. I recommend a lovely, pocket sized guide published by Collins, called “Food for Free”. I don’t leave home without it when I am going into the woods or the countryside. You never know what you will find. So, happy picking!

My recent adventure in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru helped me to understand how much the local people rely on the forest for food and fibres. It was incredible. I have fond memories of being taught by the local people about the plants and their many uses, walking through banana and cacao plantations, fishing in the Amazon river; the river of abundance, vitality and life. In England, it would be great if we could bring ourselves back to a more traditional way of living; working in harmony with our natural surroundings. Unity with nature is the key to a brighter, more sustainable, happier, healthier future. This is where the principles of Permaculture are going to help us. A rather lovely definition of permaculture is, “Observing nature’s patterns to create sustainable human habitats.” We have a lot that we can learn from what already exists in out natural environment.

A wonderful way of living sustainably of course is by growing your own veggies, so if any of you are keen, now is the time harvest leeks, cauliflowers, carrots, beetroot, turnips and swedes. Sow over wintering broad beans outside or under cloches where the soil is well drained, or in pots in an unheated greenhouse. You can also plant garlic cloves under a cold frame. In preparation for next year, November is the time to dig over any vacant areas on your vegetable plot, incorporating well-rotted organic matter. Once these areas are fully wetted by winter rain, cover them with thick black polythene or other opaque covering, and leave them until next season, when they will be easy to prepare for planting and sowing.

If you are looking to have some love and energy put into your garden, I offer a garden design service, specialising in creating natural spaces, full of beautiful, delicate plants and flowing lines, and using natural materials; inspiring balance and harmony with our natural surroundings. With a knowledge of horticulture and permaculture, I can create a beautiful and sustainable space. The planting design will be carefully considered, thoughtfully choosing plants that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also aid in the conservation of our native species. Please contact me for a consultation by email at , or by telephone on 07935157038.
So that’s all from me from me for this month. I wish you all health and happiness; may your days be filled with discovery, and may your connection with the plant world grow and evolve into a beautiful, lifelong friendship.

Love and light,



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