I've done some hedgerow foraging over the past couple of weeks and come back home with a few bags of leaves and some ideas for where to pick fruit in the summer and autumn.
Hawthorn is one of the most common shrubs growing in hedgerow. Most of the hedge around our allotment is hawthorn. The new leaves in the spring can be used in salads. I've already seen hawthorn flowering in London but not yet in the North East. However, expect hawthorn to burst into a blaze of white flowers soon if you haven't already got them. Hawthorn is pollinated by flies so don't expect the flowers to have an attractive smell! In the autumn hawthorn will be ablaze with small scarlet berries. These are idea for jellies and other recipes though no use for eating raw. Most of the fruit consists of the stone.
Cherry trees can sometimes be found in hedgerows though more likely they will be found in youngish woodlands. Councils love to plant them in grassed areas on housing estates as they look attractive in the spring when they are blanketed in flowers. They tend to look like they are covered with snow. In the summer and early autumn they will hopefully be weighed down with juicy fruit. So now is a good time to walk around estates and parks looking for trees. In the London area this week I have already seen the blossom giving way but it is still out in the North East where everything, growing wise, tends to be a couple of weeks later.
We are doing more hedgerow and woodland foraging this weekend so watch this space next week for more on what's out there.