I was just sent this picture from my visit to Holma Forest Garden in Southern Sweden <3 (https://www.facebook.com/SkogstradgardensVanner) on 1st September 2017….. I am very happy to be greeting the sign of Barstow’s Lund for the very first time….Lund means “Copse or small wood” in Swedish and they have planted as many as possible of the plants in my book in this part of this the oldest forest garden in Sweden! Holma is next to a small place with the wonderful name Höör which isn’t far from the city of Lund, so this is Barstow’s Lund near Lund….
For English speakers Lund is pronounced “Loond” as in loony ;)
On 1st April 2017, I visited the Compost Education Centre in Victoria BC, Canada, where I’d enrolled on an indigenous plant walk around the grounds, lead by Ashley Cooper (Tsartlip First Nation) and is working to revitalize important cultural knowledge and practices in her community and beyond.
The centre has a small garden, but it is packed with many traditional and indigenous useful plants. It is a non-profit organization providing courses and workshops on organic gardening and composting in the Greater Victoria area (see https://www.compost.bc.ca). Here are a few pictures and a couple of videos of Ashley talking about camas and stinging nettle!
The coastal peoples harvested and semi-cultivated the wild stands of camas, both Great camas (Camassia leichtlinii) which was commonest around Victoria and common camas (C. quamash). In Victoria, Beacon Hill (see separate post) was an important site as were small offshore islands, where soils weren’t deep over rock and hence easier to harvest (my garden is perfect in that respect!). The beds were divided into individual plots maintained over the generations by different families.
Camas is said to have often been the only source of carbohydrate in the past for these coastal peoples who mostly ate fish and meat. Each year, the plots were cleared of stones and were burned to maintain the meadows. The bulbs were steamed in earth pits to convert the inulin to easier digested carbohydrates.
On the second day of Perennialen III, in early August 2017, we were joined by Rebecca Smith of Norway’s second LAND centre on Byrknesøy on the coast north of Bergen! Since I last met Rebecca here during Perennialen I, Eirik Lillebøe Wiken’s food forest which basically surrounds the house, both above and below all the way down to the fjord on steep ground, has grown well and is becoming more established. The diversity has also increased. These pictures are from our food forest tour together including a stop on the shoreline where we could only imagine the wild food forest also in the fjord, this is truly a food forest with many layers :)
One of my favourite multi-purpose vegetables and one of my first unusual vegetables that I grew in my garden in the 80s was burdock or borre, more specifically various Japanese cultivars of Arctium lappa, hardly used in Europe and North America apart from a few foragers, even though it’s a common wild plant and hardy. Although it is best known as a root vegetable, there are varieties bred for their leaf petioles and the flower stems are really delicious! If you add to this that the seeds are foraged by various birds like goldfinches and greenfinches in winter in addition to being impressive photogenic plants which tolerated shady conditions, no permaculture garden should be without them!
In the album below are pictures I’ve taken over the years, in my garden, in botanical gardens and in the wild. There follows links to various blog posts about burdock!
Documentation of yet another amazing day during last week’s Perennialen III in Hardanger!! Pictures taken on a fantastic 6-7 hour round trip from Eirik Lillebøe Wiken and Hege Iren Aasdal Wiken’s house to their shieling (støl or seter in Norwegian). We took our time botanising on the way up, passing through different types of forest on the way up, from alder (or), ash (ask), planted spruce (gran), lime (lind), elm (alm), hazel (hassel), aspen (osp) and birch (bjørk) at the highest levels. Lower down, old apple trees witnessed that these steep slopes had at one time been worked for fruit production, no easy matter….
Eirik and Hege are planning to rejuvenate and replant some of this area and have planted a multispecies forest garden above and below the house, probably one of the most dramatic forest gardens in the world (more later).
The genus Hosta is just about my favourite vegetable as you can read in my book Around the World in 80 plants, productive, tasty and perfect for a forest garden as it doesn’t mind deep shade! I did a walk and talk at the Botanischer Garten der Universität Wien as part of my tour organised by Arche Noah in mid-June 2017. To my great surprise, there was a Hosta installation in the garden and a large collection of species Hosta! It turns out that the genus Hosta was named after Austrian botanist Nikolaus Host (1761-1834) and he managed a garden on the site of the botanical garden until his death!
From the garden’s web site: “On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Nikolaus Thomas Host (1761-1834). A group of students of the class for landscape design, under the supervision of the British artist and landscape designer Tony Heywood, is working on a “horticultural installation” for the Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna.”
Here’s a series of pictures from the installation “Hosta Superstar” and a long bed of species Hosta!
All Hostas are edible.
This was the highlight of my guided tour of the garden which ended at the Hosta installation.
It was unknown to the garden that Hosta are edible and the director was excited of this new dimension to the garden…perhaps there will be a Hosta tasting next spring!