Category Archives: Onions

My new “job” and office: a dream come true!!

I always dreamed of working in a botanical garden and somehow my wish has come true only 7 months after retiring from job as an ocean wave climatologist!
Even better, I can come and go as I wish (more or less)…I now have an office where I will be able to document and tend (in summer) my onion garden, as visiting researcher :)
WOW!
…and the staff are lovely people too :)
090118: Wren foraging and joined by a second bird120118:  It’s quite a few years I’ve seen two-barred crossbill (båndkorsnebb), but then I’ve never deliberately sought them out at Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim which, because of its collection of conifers, is one of the best places to see this species, the less common of the 3 crossbills here…only one female with a single common or parrot crossbill…
 090118: Wrens (gjerdesmett):

New study of old Norwegian roof onions!

I’m just passing the mountain village Otta in Gudbrandsdalen on the train . In 2009, I visited several old farms in this area to witness first-hand the old onion turf roofs still to be found nearby and collect some samples (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=14436). Norway’s old edible roof gardens are also described in my book Around the World I 80 plants! I recently heard that a botanist, Bjørn Harald Larsen, did a thorough field study of the area last year (2016) and made a number of new finds. His report can be downloaded below (with many new pictures!).  Bjørn Harald has tried to partition his finds of old Allium fistulosum (pipeløk / Welsh onion) in this area as follows: There are now 10 intact roof locations documented of 31 «original known onion roofs»; 12 intact of 16 finds where plants had been moved / planted from older roofs; 2 occurrences where plants have naturalised on dry slopes; a few that have been planted in gardens; and finally two instances where plants seem to originate from other cultivated forms (i.e., plants have a different growth form – I had also noted this when growing out some of these onions in Malvik).

Download (PDF, 17.29MB)

Nervous Onions or Magic Wren?

I certainly didn’t think I would make a blog post with this name  today!  This is possibly my strangest post ever….
To explain, I was cleaning and packing seed in the garden today (a beautiful sunny day here) and I noticed that the seed of an Allium I’d just cleaned seemed a bit “nervous” or jumpy, jumping as soon as I touched them! They don’t have an English name,  they are simply Allium ovalifolium var leucoNERVUM….. I decided to film this strange phenomenon (see the video below)…..and at about 1 minute my friend the wren decided he wanted to be part of the action and starts  to call  next to me (see also yesterday’s wren film)…and then at the end my neighbour can be heard calling me, unaware of the drama going on….wanting to know if I wanted some hen (not wren) manure…..let me know what you think?

 

The Roof Onions of Gudbrandsdalen in Norway

On 3rd July 2009, local historian Geir Neverdal invited me on a tour to witness first hand the old traditional onion roofs of Gudbrandsdalen near the town of Otta. I had first heard of Geir through the following web site about these very special old turf roofs on which Allium fistulosum / welsh onion / pipeløk had been planted as a protection against fire (the leaves are succulent even in very dry conditions and this Siberian species is extremely hardy and drought tolerant): http://www.otta2000.com/Diverse/Pipeloek/pipeloek.htm. The onions were also traditionally harvested in spring and used in scrambled egg and other dishes.

He had arranged visits to 5 different farms near Otta and Vågå.  Two local botanists had also been invited along: Hans Petter Schwencke and  Bjørn Engehagen.

One Norwegian botanist thinks that as these roof onions have developed over such a long time in this very special environment that they should be lifted to species level. I suggest Allium gudbrandsdaliensis ;)

Geir also blogged about the tour here http://www.otta2000.com/Diverse/Pipeloek/pipeloek.htm#Prosjektleder_

Below are a series of pictures from these farms: Søre Breden where owners Knut Romsås Breden og Eldri Seim met us; Hole; Nedre Gjetsiden;  Nerøygarden (where Ingrid Dokken and her husband met us)and, finally,  Sve Gård in Vågå kommune where farmer Harald Bjørndal showed us around. At the bottom is a document in Norwegian which I wrote after the visit. The story of these onions is also told in my book Around the World in 80 plants!

Download (PDF, 2.18MB)

 

The Equinox Garlic Dance

….is an annual celebration of garlic, king of the tasty Alliums!
First, some pictures from the 2012 event:

…and a few pictures from today’s (2017) event:

Around the world in 80 Alliums

Yesterday, I gave my first talk about my (second) love of onions (alternative title All you wanted to know about Alliums but were afraid to ask!)….fittingly in the nursery with I believe the best selection of Alliums being sold as foodplants in Europe if not the world , my friend Aiah Noack’s Naturplanteskolen just outside of Copenhagen. Aiah is the author of an excellent book Fantasilater (fantasy salads), only in Danish so far which also includes several Alliums. My book Around the World in 80 plants mentions some 45 Allium species!
In a little over 2 hours I covered about 66 of the world’s cold hardy onions and over 80 if we include cultivars and subspecies…
Other onion related topics were also covered, such as “grow your own fireworks and Xmas decorations”, “Allium as a dancing partner”, the Allium microphone (Alliomike) and the garlic scape armband to keep “wild” animals, trolls and mosquitos away (Transylvanian Garlic keeps vampires away too)… It was a fun afternoon with yet another great group of edimentals fans! ;) 

The video  is of one of my pictures about drying Persian Shallots with a shot of my drying racks over my wood burning stove. Someone noticed that you could actually see heat rising through the racks!!!! (a wood burning stove was on behind the projector) ;)

The Allium garden at Ringve

A little secret I’ve had since last autumn (apart from a select few) when I was told that I would get my very own Allium bed at the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim :)
Yesterday, 18th August 2017, I finally got the time to start the planting. I will be planting both the collection of old Norwegian perennial onions that I have collected from all over the country over the last 10 years and a selection of species Alliums to show off their incredible diversity!
The first phase was mainly the planting of my old Norwegian onion collection, Allium schoenoprasum (chives / gressløk), Allium fistulosum (Welsh onion / pipeløk including old Norwegian roof onions from Gudbrandsdalen) and Allium x proliferum (walking onions, tree onions, Egyptian onions / luftløk, etasjeløk). I also planted about 22 accessions of Allium cernuum (nodding onion, Chicago onion / prærieløk) plus a few others like Allium carinatum pulchellum and Norrlands onion (Norrlandsløk).
It was a long day starting at home at 8 am with packing, sorting and documentation, returning home after 10 pm – it was worth it for the sunset from the garden over Trondheimsfjord!! Looking forward to phase 2 which will probably be in September!
 
Thanks to the Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre and particularly Morten Rasmussen for funding the bed preparation and Vibekke Vange and the staff at Ringve for making me feel so welcome!

Preparing Allium cernuum accessions for Ringve at home:

Sunset and the new Allium bed with the accompaniment of screaming  (approving) swifts!  Life is good!!