It was probably over 25 years ago I sowed some seed of a kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa) from the supermarket just for fun! Little did I know that it would be flowering in my garden in the year 2020. The seed germinated and I accidentally left the plants in a pot in the garden all winter. I had lost the label and I didn’t recognise the plant when it leafed out in spring. A gardening friend (Alvilde) visiting that summer did recognised it and I recalled having sowed those seeds. It also showed that it was much more hardy than I imagined. I therefore planted two plants in the warmest spot I could find in the garden against the south side of the house. Unfortunately, one of the two plants died and you need two to get fruit….not that I had any pretense of ever eating my own kiwis (I’d read that Actinidia deliciosa needs temperatures over 20C for 3-4 months to ripen fruit). Some summers, we only have 10-20 such days! I carried on growing it more of a curiosity than anything else…a plant one doesn’t expect to see at 63.5N! Then in 2007, I had a visit from a Swedish gardening club (STA). I told them about the kiwi and one of them commented that it was flowering. I hadn’t noticed the two flowers:
I never saw a flower again, until just a week ago when I lifted one of the branches and discovered a couple of flowers well hidden under the leaves. On closer examination there were about 10 flowers altogether! A mild winter followed by record temperatures in June had stimulated it to flower “profusely” (of course, I could have missed the odd flower in the past). I didn’t round to taking pictures for several days by which time the flowers were over (see below). Given that I will never have my own fruit, I wonder if other parts of kiwis can be eaten. I found one reference to the leaves being edible on a kiwi web site. Can anyone confirm? There are references in the literature to both Actinidia arguta and Actinidia polygama shoots being eaten.
When I was away in January, the mildest ever recorded in this part of the world, this bird cherry that I received as Padus asiatica leafed out for the third year running in January, here seen with my only misteltoe (top left):
My only Rhododendron, R. mucronulatum v. taguettii from Jeju Island in Korea is also early out and full of flower buds, so I brought a few twigs indoors:
I saw cultivation of and ate leaves of Japanese Pepper or sansho (Zanthoxylum piperitum) several times in Japan…these leaves had sprouted in my cellar (pot grown as two attempts at overwintering failed).. more later…
Link added to my list of talks, courses and forages (at http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=262) to a FB event for the Hardanger Perennialen at the beginning of May, what promises to be the most beautiful course on perennial vegetables and wild foraged food EVER! More information to follow!
Here’s a few shots from Alys and “hard working” cameraman Simon on assignment in my garden on that wonderful visit in July 2010 when Malvik was showing off its best …I remember Alys saying that this must be paradise….
For the unusual vegetable enthusiast, the place to find seed are the alpine garden clubs’ seed exchanges: Scottish Rock Garden Club (SRGC), Alpine Garden Society (AGS) and the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS) are the main international ones and each puts out a seed list of several thousand varieties donated by the members…by no means just alpine garden plants! I remember reading an article in the North American Herb Companion with a recommendation to source seed of unusual herbs from NARGS.
My SRGC seed arrived today and here they are, a mixed bunch including the yellow form of Kamchatka Lily (Fritillaria camschatensis “Aurea”), one I’ve been looking for for some time! You can probably read some of the names but there are Phyteumas, Ligularias, Alliums, Dahlias, Lilium, Polygonum macrophyllum, Agastache, Zanthoxylum simulans and Boehmeria…
12, 13 and 14 in brackets indicates the harvesting year for the seed. Concerning seed quantity: as I don’t have many plants of each species, seed quantity is limited in most cases. Therefore, for some species you may only get a few seeds. Many species are harvested in my garden. Others are surplus from trade and purchase. OUT: Means out of stock.