By: Blonde Two

I took the dog up for a stroll in our copse yesterday and almost all of the bluebells have gone.  They have been replaced now with what looks like fields of white bells – beware, though these pretty creatures aren’t sweet and bluebelly smelly, if you pick one, you will find that your hands stink of onions.

I hadn’t seen these plants before I moved to Devon but they are prolific along our South Devon coast paths and in our coastal woods.  I haven’t seen any up on Dartmoor but there may be some (do tell if you know).  It is a common misconception that these bluebell shaped followers on are wild garlic.  Indeed, I was just taking photos of them and contemplating this blog post when a charming chap stopped to chat and said “Those are wild garlic you know.”  I am a lovely, polite Blonde who was brought up not to argue with her elders (I can hear my family smirking now), so I didn’t disagree with him.  He was wrong though.

In my Scout leader days, I used to walk the coast path with a good friend who sadly passed away suddenly and far too young.  He was a National Trust gardener and knew a phenomenal amount about wild plants as well as more domesticated ones.  He would always tell the Scouts about the “three cornered leek” which is the correct name.  The Scouts would often arrive back from their walk with smelly breath because he had told them that they could eat it.

I had intended to go out an take a photo of the three cornered leek which I know is in the copse in abundance but was pleased to also find a patch of proper wild garlic to show you.  I picked some along with some rosemary to go with my roast butternut squash (it was delicious) and was surprised to discover that both plants had three corners.  The leaves of the wild garlic are broader and flatter but the stalks of both were a triangular prism.  This reminded me of a German phrase that my sister likes to quote “Mein Hut hat drie ecken” or “My hat has three corners”.  I have no idea why this phrase might be useful but it has stayed with her since childhood.  The picture of the real wild garlic is below and you can see that it looks quite different.

So now, if you go down into the woods in deepest, darkest Devon, you will know whether strangers are telling you the truth about the wild garlic or not.  I have eaten both and not died yet so I don’t think it really matters.  Both are pretty and both are smelly – I imagine a bit like the Two Blondes will be at the end of this weekend’s three day expedition!