The APRIL Hedge
April - Aibrean
This month was sacred to Venus among the Romans. The name may mean omnia aperit which means that everything opens.
Wood Sorrel comes into bloom especially on hedge banks near woodland. The Wild Strawberry is also in bloom. Also Marsh Marigold or Ranunculous comes out. The Wild Cherry and Wild Pear are ready to blossom. Spring vetch, the Dog Violet, the Cuckoo Flowers (Ladies Smock) and Cow-slips. Blackthorn is all in bloom.
The sky lark in full spate. Water-hens in ponds often under thickets of hedge will be sitting on their nests which can be nearly a metre above the level of the water. The swallows have returned and begin to build nests.
Sycamore trees and Hawthorn will be in full leaf, the Sycamore with its attractive seed tassels cascading downwards. The Crab-apple still has its pink buds. The Ash is always the last to lose its leaves, in about November, and the last to get them as well but at the moment it is in flower. In the Furze bushes you may find a hedge-sparrows nest with up to 4 eggs, it is often made of moss.
Pick the young shoots, the four top
leaves, of stinging nettles, wearing rubber gloves to do so!
Cook the shallots in the butter for a
minute or so.
Choose young, small dock leaves and
wash them, then dry them on a towel.
Wash and trim the chickweed and cut
off all the straggly roots.
Wash and tear the dandelion leaves, wash the hazel shoots and
slice the tomato thinly .
Butter some very thin slices of fresh
bread, half of them white and half of them brown.
Pick the flowers on a sunny day in
late April or early May when the blooms are fully out.
Wash and chop the sultanas, thinly pare the lemon rind and squeeze the juice, discarding an the pith. Add these to the cool flower water together with the yeast. Replace the cover and fer- ment on the pulp for four days, pressing down the floating flowers and sultanas twice each day.
Strain out, press and discard the solids, stir in the sugar and pour the must into a sterilised fermentation jar: Fit an airlock, and leave in a warm room for about three weeks until the fermentation is finished. .
Move the jar to a cold place for a few days to encourage the wine to clear, then siphon it into another sterilised jar and discard the sediment. Top up with cold boiled water, add 1 Campden tablet ~ to prevent infection, bung tightly, and store in a cold place until
the wine is crystal clear. Bottle it
and keep the wine until Christmas.
You can make elderflower and May
blossom wine in the same way.