Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A Seaside Walk, Foraged Vegetables and Garden Interlopers

On the seashore at St Ouen's Bay, Jersey

The last day of our holiday saw us walking along St Ouen's Bay close to the site where Monday's Jersey Royals box is located. The tide was out, so there was plenty of beach to explore. I've added NAH to the scene to give a sense of scale.

View along the seashore at St Ouen's Bay

This view looks back towards the spot atop the cliffs where I took the picture postcard of the bay  shown previously. I was keen to have a closer look at the vegetation to the right of the photo, which stood next to the farmer's fields.

The foraged vegetable - sea beet

As I suspected, it's sea beet, an edible relative of chard and beetroot that's suitable for foraging. It was a new find for me and I saw plenty growing around the island during our stay. I wonder if it's ever harvested for the vegetable boxes? Young leaves can be used in salads, and it serves as a good substitute for spinach in any recipe.

Masses of sea beet

As you can see, it likes growing along the sea wall and in the shingle of St Ouen's Bay.

One of the slipways at St Ouen's Bay

However, when I reached the slipway at the end of our walk...

The first sign of a garden interloper on the slipway

... I found a garden interloper had gained a foothold between the cobbled stones and...

The garden interloper - alyssum - has gained a strong foothold

... a few yards away it was jostling with the sea beet for the best positions on the bank.

This is alyssum aka Lobularia maritima (syn. Alyssum maritimum). It's a popular annual bedding plant and a well-known garden escapee. The Wild Flower Finder website describes it as a 'mainly coastal naturalised garden plant growing to 30cm on walls and dry sandy shores especially at the foot of walls'.

My find was definitely growing true to type.

View of the alyssum looking towards the sea with the scent of warm honey

Sniff the air and there's a distinct scent of warm honey. No wonder its common names include sweet alyssum, sweet Alice and sweet Alison.

Whilst alyssum is well-known as a garden escapee (and I saw many large drifts of it on Jersey), it has yet to be listed on Plantlife's Plants of Concern for the UK.

Update: Janet's comment reminded me of an interesting talk Ken Thompson gave at the RHS on invasive plant species. He draws quite different conclusions (backed with evidence) to the usual information. It's well-worth 35 minutes of your time.

15 comments:

  1. I have sea beet in the garden. Given a more fertile position, it has gone bonkers! I need to eat it into submission ;)

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  2. We get alyssum and sea beet growing round here too, the alyssum does smell - and look - lovely even if it is an interloper.

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    1. I've just been on a walk round Chippenham, Janet and found some alyssum on the way. Good point about the alyssum being a well-liked interloper, I must look out the video of Ken Thompson giving a talk at the RHS about non-native and invasive plants. His views (and backup data) were quite startling. One of his points was we don't treat all invasive non-native plants the same...

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  3. I didn't know about the wild flower finder website. Thanks for the info. Gorgeous photos. Mum and I are looking at hotels for next spring.

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    1. Only too happy to oblige Karen. I'm so chuffed you've been inspired to go there next year :)

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  4. Your posts from Jersey look wonderful, I have visited Guernsey and Sark but have never made it to Jersey.

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    1. We have Guernsey and Sark (and Alderney) to do Brian :) It was our first trip to the Channel Islands and I don't think it will be our last. I've really enjoyed writing these posts; it's made the effects of a much-needed holiday last a little longer.

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  5. Trust you weren't yelling "Back a bit further" on that first picture!

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  6. I've recently been learning how many of the indigenous plants in my garden
    are in fact edible. Still a little wary of trying them, one by one.
    On our dunes would be 'soutslaai' a succulent which can be either eaten raw as a salad or in a stir-fry.

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    1. It's a real surprise isn't it? I started finding out during my 52-week salad challenge. The other surprise was just how many flowers are edible...

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  7. I've never been to Jersey but it looks lovely in your photos. And it's good to know I won't go hungry if I do visit ;)

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    1. It was our first visit Matt, and we were surprised at how enjoyable it was. Yes, you won't go hungry - there's loads of very reasonable cafes and restaurants too!

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