Category Archives: Forest Gardening

Companion perennials

It always amazes me how edible plants in my garden find their own best companions andystem create together really productive microsystems, often on really marginal parts of the garden that I never imagined could be so productive, such is the magic of perennials!
Here are  a couple of videos showing two of these areas:

  1. The edge of what was a shady bed previously used to grow annuals. I planted Hosta sieboldiana and Rumex scutatus on the edge of this bed with an Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern / perlebregne), one of the species sometimes eaten as fiddleheads. The shade encouraged first a Hablitzia to self-seed and next to it a large stinging nettle.  A siberian hogweed (Heracleum sibiridum) also found a place in the mix!  Perennial kales are growing on the rest of this bed this year! The video starts with the flower umbel of a pink flowered Heracleum sphondylium (common hogweed):
  2. The second area is at the end of one of my originally annual beds where I struggled to grow vegetables as it was very dry and under the shade of a large birch tree. Here I planted a number of Hablitzia plants 12 years ago and they love this spot producing good yields and climbing up into the birch tree in summer with the help of stakes I provided for them. Now, hogweeds have moved in (self-seeded), both Heracleum sibiricum and H. sphondylium and the Hablitzia is now using the 2.5m high hogweeds as climbing support!

Parasenecios

I love these broad curiously shaped leaved woodlanders from the Far East, but, sadly, my shidoke (Parasenecio delphiniifolia), which I found in a supermarket and ate in Japan, disappeared this winter :(
Probably not a good idea to meet much of these due to alkaloids they may contain!

See earlier blog on shidoke here: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=6340

Parkens Grøde

Thanks to Elena Katarina​ for showing me Parkens Grøde at short notice on Sunday evening before I took the train home! The other gardener Marcia Kyle and a newly arrived Swedish guy, Marcus Ivarsson also joined us!
I was very impressed….in a similar way to the first time I visited Holma Skogsträdgård in Sweden….
Parkens Grøde is a permaculture inspired urban farming project in Oslo with many interesting elements including forest garden, hugel beds, insect friendly plants and habitat.
See http://www.xn--parkensgrde-ogb.no/ for more details..

Food forest at Landås in Bergen

Landås  matskog (food forest) is situated under Mount Ulriken in Bergen, Norway. The area was until just a few years ago spruce forest, but when it was felled, an agreement was struck with the kommune in 2013 for the organisation Bærekraftig Liv (literally, Sustainable Living) to develop the area as a food forest (matskog). I have long wanted to visit, so was happy to finally get to  spend a day there with food forest enthusiasts Lars Ove Kvalbein, Benedicte Brun and others during my May 2018 visit to Bergen to give a course for Bærekraftig Liv!

Permaveggies course on Hvaler

Fantastic spring weather for the first day of our weekend permaveggies course arranged by Hvaler Hagelag on the Hvaler islands in southern Norway. Great group of old and new friends. The local NRK Østfold TV were also there and interviewed us! The day started with a guided tour of Randy Gunnar Lange and Ingunn Bohmann‘s new home and extensive grounds (Eikeløkka) where we discussed their plans of developing the land to a multispecies biodiverse permaculture farm with forest garden including nut trees, fruit, perennial vegetables, carp pond, beneficial animals etc.
Randy’s plan is to beat my species count :) Good luck!!
I look forward to following Ingunn and Randy’s labours over the next years…
This was followed by a talk about perennials and their role in a more resilient future!

Barstow’s Lund near Lund

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 ;)

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Indigenous plant walk in Victoria BC

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.

 

Alvastien Telste’s Multi-layered Food Forest

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 :)