I was surprised to see elder growing here, I had imagined that the climate would have been too hot and dry, but I was wrong. They were flowering as I arrived at the convent and my hosts had already made elderflower syrup this year. We chatted about other uses and ended up gathering bafulls of flowers that we set to dry as an ingredient for herbal tea, either on its own or to blend with other herbs.
The plants cling to the wettest places and are found alongside streams and in damp valleys where they can thrive. We drove out into the countryside and spent an enjoyable couple of hours harvesting and chatting in the warm spring sunshine. Whilst chatting, it transpired that they had packets of seeds to sprout, that they had never dared to try, so were excited to hear that it was something that I regularly did. That evening we set to soak three different sprouts, mung beans which give chinese bean sprouts, sunflower seeds and cress. A week later they were nicely sprouted and we enjoyed them in salads accompanied by fresh leaves and shoots from the garden.
|seeds put to soak for sprouting|
|elderflowers ready to dry|
|combing elderflowers of their stalks|