Sunday, 20 May 2012

You don’t know Jack

Garlic mustard, or Jack in the Hedge (Alliaria petiolata), glowing white and emerald green following a downpour. It’s everywhere at the moment. Find it popping up alongside pavements and in the hedgerows, obviously loving the wet weather and growing away quite vigorously, although not as uncontrollably as in North America where, following its introduction for culinary use in the nineteenth century, it’s become an invasive pest. Like the nettle which it superficially resembles – and in whose company it can often be found – it has a square stem, but the emergence of the vertically-held seed pods after the flowers point towards its true placement in the brassica family, reminding me of canola (the rapeseed plant), a solitary specimen of which occasionally escapes from the fields and appears in similar locations. I’ve yet to introduce it to my own herb patch, or anyone else’s garden for that matter, but I wouldn’t rule it out in the creation of a wild, naturalistic effect, perhaps in the company of cow parsley and a deadnettle or two.