I have added an Inwood Hill Park outing to my wild foods walk list. It's a place some New Yorkers have never seen. Fix that!
Taking any subway to the last stop on its line (above) has a certain drama to it, and the A does not disappoint.
From 207th Street you turn west, walk up a gentle hill, and very soon see the rising forest of the park. We meet at its entrance (big bonus - there is a bathroom!). The well populated flock of baseball fields is usually in full, Dominican swing (Inwood's population is mostly Dominican). At little tables under the trees neighborhood men argue over dominoes, and further along a small dog park's owners compare dog sizes and brilliance.
Another two minutes takes us into the forest, and suddenly it is silent. The tulip trees here are huge, straight, looming. Woodpeckers drill dead trunks and overhead an owl blinks. Spicebush trees congregate in this first valley, while on its sloped edges tendrils of catbriar tangle in the undergrowth.
Late Japanese knotweed tips are still tender enough to pick. Invasive mugwort and burdock hug paths and fields, while pokeweed shoots do Phoenix acts at the base of their dead bleached winter canes.
Indigenous wildflowers persist among mats of suffocating periwinkle and herds of daylilies. Nettles prick their way down a steep slope.
Annual jewelweed crowds damp ditches and offers sting relief.
This forest - the oldest on Manhattan island - offers a living tutorial in invasive plant implications, woodland gardening possibilities and creative kitchen garden development.
Over a silent ridge and down the western side, beneath the roaring Henry Hudson Parkway, the Hudson River appears between the spring trees. We wind down and round, under the big steel bridge and above the Spuyten Duyvil waterway. At last, between a green lawn and a salt mash we settle on benches for our wild foods picnic (or on the lawn, if the whole world is sitting on the benches, already - it never is).
Inwood Hill Park Walk
13 May 2017
12.30pm - 3.30pm