Category Archives: Forest Gardening

The many faces of burdock

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!

Burdock in Japan
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=11024
Burdock and goldfinches
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=8810
Greenfinches on burdock
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=2642
Cardboard and fiberboards from Burdock and about its cultivation
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Br%C3%B8ndegaard_on_burdock.pdf
An interesting barlotto (burlotto?)
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=4052
Goldfinches
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=2768
Perennial Greens June 2015 (including burdock flower stems)
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1772
Flower stem sweet and sour
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=1535
Burdock Flower Stalk Curry
http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=15132
Edinburgh’s Burry Man
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ro4DXRMVdgY

Perennialen III: Alvastien Telste – from fjord to shieling

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).

Ostrich Fern (strutseving)

Ants on pine tree

Aspen (osp) and the fjord

Young blackcap (munk)

Eirik’s Udo

Eirik Lillebøe Wiken and Hege Iren Aasdal Wiken‘s Udo (Aralia cordata) has grown a lot since last year and has one of the best views over Fyksefjorden in the Forest Garden! :)

1.  Eirik and his Udo now towers over his head..

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2.  Decaisnea (Dead man’s finger / likfinger) on the left produces fruit with Udo (Aralia cordata)

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3.  View down over Eirik and Hege’s house close to the Fyksefjord

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Hosta Superstar and Host in Vienna

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!

Naturalised Allium victorialis in Hardanger, Norway

In June 2009, I was shown the only naturalised stand of victory onion (Allium victorialis) in south western Norway (away from Lofoten Islands – Vestvågøy – and Bodø area where there are several large populations).  It’s found in a damp wood (which regularly floods in spring) along the Granvinselven. Please refer to my book Around the World in 80 plants for more information about this fantastic onion!! This onion can grow both in shady and full sun localities:

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In a local garden

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