Ramsons! The only plant I know that you smell before you see. When you’re in a wood and suddenly there’s a strong smell of garlic, stop looking for the Italian restaurant and skim the ground for a carpet of green leaves growing straight from the soil. These are Ramsons or Wild Garlic.
I haven’t often seen the flowers, which look like small sparklers on fireworks night, but last Saturday near Leatherhead, they were prolific.
Of course, the plant is edible including the bulb though this is nothing like cultivated garlic, resembling more of a spring onion. We chewed a bit of a leaf on our walk and it was tasty and garlicy but then, since there were so many, we tried the flowers. These are delicious. They have the same strong garlic taste but this is combined with the sweetness of the nectar to produce a flavour unlike anything I’d ever tasted before – having never mixed sweet rosewater with garlic paste. A real wayside treat – just a shame we stank of garlic for the rest of the day!