Join us as we take a foraging tour across the Ashford Estate this April, and share our favourite recipes to try at home.

Wild strawberries 

The Irish strawberry season begins in May, so we are beginning to see these beauties across the Estate, ready to be picked and eaten in June. A little-known fact is that strawberries are not actually fruits as their seeds are on the outside. Wild strawberries have been eaten by people around the world since ancient times, but not in large quantities since the fruits were small or tough or lacked in flavour. By the 1300s the strawberry was in cultivation in Europe, when the French began transplanting the wood strawberry from the wilderness to the garden. At the end of the 1500s, the strawberry was also being cultivated in European gardens. 

Vitamins are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese, and also contain decent amounts of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. Strawberries are very rich in antioxidants and plant compounds, which may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control.

Philippe’s favourite strawberry recipe is 'strawberry tart with creme patisserie' (a rich creamy custard)... 

Creme patissiere recipe

  1. Boil 250ml milk and 1/2 vanilla pod
  2. In the meantime, mix three eggs yolk with 10g flour, 10g cornflour and 50g sugar
  3. Pour the warm milk over and whisk
  4. Cook until mixture thickens, be careful not to let it burn on the bottom
  5. Chill, pour into a tart base, add strawberries and enjoy with the Champagne 

Flowers for the bees 

Bees have good colour vision to help them find flowers and the nectar and pollen they offer. Flower colours that particularly attract bees are blue, purple, violet white, and yellow. On our Estate, and especially in our beautiful walled garden and woodland, the wildflowers, crab apple tree, hawthorn, elder and many more provide the perfect habitat for our bees. 

It is important to eat honey from your local area, as it will help you against pollen allergy and strengthen your immune system.

Wood violet  

This small flower is commonly seen in our wet woodland and meadow areas, and along roadsides. The roots and seeds of this plant are toxic and should not be eaten. The flowers are still traditionally used as a flavouring in puddings and sweets or crystallized and used as an edible decoration. Violet leaves can be sautéed or steamed, stirred into soups as a nutrient-dense thickener or frozen into ice cubes. 


Now is the time to harvest just enough beautifully fragranced elderflower to make cordial, wine or jams and keep just enough for the flowers to turn to berries by September. 

This springtime elderflower cordial is easy to make and mix with wine or champagne... 

  • 2kg sugar and 2 litres water 
  • 20 large fresh elderflower heads (shake a little to remove any bugs)
  • The juice of 2 lemons
  • 50g citric acid (optional but this will help it to keep much longer)  

Boil all together for a few minutes, strain the syrup through muslin and squeeze to get all the flavours.