Monthly Archives: April 2016

To Be or Not to Be

In this, the 400th anniversary year of William Shakespeare’s death, I repeat a question pondered in Hamlet:

To be or not to be..

But I ask this about a plant, a weed no less, and consider whether or not it should be hoicked out.

The offending plant is the Three Cornered Garlic (also called Stinking Onion), Allium triquetrum. I’ve heard people refer to it as Wild Garlic, but it is not to be confused with the official Wild Garlic (or Ramsons), Allium ursinum. It’s very invasive but apart from one garden that I worked in, I’d never really noticed it in London before. Until the last year or so that is, and now I’m seeing it everywhere in my local area, from gardens to paving cracks.


In the community kitchen garden where I volunteer, it’s generally removed where it pops up. But the new maternity-cover supervisor is allowing a clump of it to tarry on the wild bank where herbs, fruit and veg aren’t cultivated, much to the vexation of a long-standing volunteer who thinks it should be yanked out. Given the pervasive tendency of this stinker, is it irresponsible to let it remain? Even though it is being monitored and kept in its place? The leader likes it because she picks the flowers so they can be used as table decoration in the cafe, and the leaves are being served up in salads there. The flowers can also be eaten, as I learned last week – a mild cucumbery flavour to begin with, followed by quite a pungent garlic kick.

So, does Allium triquetrum have a place? Re-phrasing Shakespeare:

To hoick or not to hoick, that is the question.. 

Answers on a piece of parchment please..

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized