Sounds of spring

I’ve been attending a great gathering of gardeners from all over Norway the last couple of days, organised by my colleagues at the Ringve Botanical Gardens.
These relatively mild days has brought with it the full first wave of spring migrants to this part of Norway and while we were on a tour of the gardens today, the place was full of newly arrived active migrants, excited by the time of year….fieldfares (gråtrost) were chasing each other through the tree tops, redwings and a song thrush (rødvingetrost and måltrost) were singing as were wood pigeons (ringdue) and chiffchaffs (gransanger) whilst white wagtails (linerle) were feeding in the grass and geese were passing over. It started to rain heavily as soon as we finished…perfect timing…and returning home the muddy water from the small river that enters the bay below the house was evident…and a robin (rødstrupe) was singing his bittersweet song! Life is good!

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Spring Ryotto

We’re now going into a period traditionally called the hungry gap, but in my eyes it’s the Full gap, the period with an abundance of vegetables, both perennial wild and cultivated edibles. Yesterday’s dinner was a ryotto (risotto with rye rather than rice). In the last few days, many of these early spring permaveggies have put on a growth spurt! I photographed most of the ingredients in the garden first.

Monkey Puzzle Safari in Chile

In December 2004, I went to a remote sensing conference in Concepcion in Chile in my other life as an ocean wave climatologist!
I took some holiday to experience some of the native edibles. One of the main objectives was to experience the ancient old growth Monkey Puzzle forest (Araucaria araucana) and I hoped also to see nuts (piñones) for sale on Mapuche (the indigenous people) markets. It was probably the wrong time of the year (spring) and I didn’t see any nuts. However, after a failed attempt to get up into the main part of the Conguillío National Park due to late laying snow, I did a long hike into the Huerquehue National Park where I walked amongst the old growth monkey puzzle trees that are sometimes known as Umbrella or Toilet Brush trees as old trees (they can reach 1,000 years old!) only have a few branches at the top. Nowadays, it is an endangered species and logging is no longer allowed. It is also the national tree of Chile. A significant part of the diet of the native Pehuenche people (one of the Mapuche peoples) were the nutritious nuts and their name means simply people of the monkey puzzle seeds (Pewen).

Balestrand and the journey to Sogn

Andrew McMillion​ kindly picked me up early on Friday morning from the night train at Oslo airport and we drove together to the location of the KVANN / Norwegian Seed Savers annual meeting in Leikanger on the Sognefjord. As we were to arrive earlier than the other board members, I suggested going to Balestrand, about an hour further on as I’d heard that Norway’s largest Monkey Puzzle tree (apeskrekk) could be seen there! Andrew didn’t hesitate as he wanted also to go to Balestrand as he actually had family roots just a kilometer away from the tree!! There was much more than that though! It was an amazing day, first the wonderful trip over the mountains in perfect weather…to see what else we experienced, see the album!!

Extreme Salad Man is a Guest of BBC Gardener’s Question Time Summer Garden Party!!

I’m chuffed to be asked to be a guest at the BBC Gardener’s Question Time Summer Garden Party at Mount Stewart on Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland on 9th June!  I will be doing a couple of talks and a couple of garden foraging walks and talks on the day!
It’s a ticketed event, more information when I get it…here’s the press release:

Download (PDF, 118KB)

The Potential of Perennials for Food System Resilience Symposium

Last weekend I attended this symposium in Stans (near Lucerne) with a diverse group of people including farmers, decision makers, bankers, investors, NGOs, students, landscape architects, writers, international organisations, chefs, plant breeders, university researchers, syntropic farmers, permaculturists etc. to discuss the role of perennials in what more and more people are seeing as a necessary paradigm shift in agriculture in the face of climate change and dwindling resources.
The program: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5a574020b078696d379ca25e/t/5ab04a9288251bfd948ffe44/1521502868186/Program+PerennialsConference+7.Apr18.pdf

Edibles & ornamental plants

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