Category Archives: Book


One of the joys of spring is traditional Norwegian Karvekaalsuppe (caraway green soup), last night’s dinner. This was one of the first wild plants I domesticated in my garden for the soup, leaving some for seed later (used on bread, in curry spice mixes, ferments etc.). I simply collected a large bowl full of leaves with the top of the roots attached. I then made a butter and wholegrain Svedjerug (old Norwegian rye flour) roux with garlic, water and caraway greens, adding a hard boiled egg to the soup…
Learn much more about this great multipurpose vegetable in my book Around the World in 80 plants!

New Norwegian Fruit and Vegetable Encyclopedia with Hablitzia and Hosta

Published this month is a new Norwegian Fruit and Vegetable Encyclopedia written by Kari Vetlesen
Among its pages you will find both Hablitzia and Hosta (mentioned for the first time in a Norwegian book as edible?)
Unreleated, I hadn’t seen the following article about eating Hosta before:


Tor Smaaland’s “Your Dream Garden” from 2004

The first time my garden was featured in a book was in former Norwegian TV gardener and gardener for the King, Tor Smaaland’s 2004 book “Din drømmehage”. The book was based on Tor’s travels around Norway visiting gardens and their owners. I remember his visit well as he was like a whirlwind almost running around the garden and talking at full throttle…he told me that he was a landscape architect and new little about plants and then he was gone again…so quick was he that I didn’t get a single picture of his visit! Most of the text about the plants was written by me (see pdf at the bottom of this page!).
I loved his amusing description of me and my garden (first in Norwegian below and then translated):
«Hage til å spise opp: Som Norges kanskje eneste moderne ikke-munk har engelskmannen Stephen Barstow brukt de siste tiåra på å anlegge et slags fri klosterhage ved Malvik utenfor Trondheim med noe mellom 1500-3000 planter, avhengig av hvordan vinteren har fart over hagen. Her er 30 av hans favoritter – og ganske uventet bruk av dem» ;)
(Garden to be eaten up: As perhaps Norway’s only modern non-monk, Englishman SB has over the last 10 years created a kind of free style monastery garden in Malvik outside of Trondheim with somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 plants, dependent on the ravages of the winter. Here are 30 of his favourites and their rather unexpected uses)

You will notice quite a few of the plants that finally ended up in my book and many of which I now call Edimentals; for example: variegated ground elder (variegert skvallerkål), nodding onion (prærieløk), seiersløk (Allium victorialis), udo (Aralia cordata), giant bellflower (storklokke), daylilies (dagliljer), Hosta, golden hops (gulhumle), Malva (kattost), ostrich fern (strutseving), Bath asparagus (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum), bistort (ormrot), rubber dandelion (gummiløvetann), bulrush (dunkjevle) and nettles (nesle).

Download (PDF, 10.2MB)

Around the World in 80 plants at TWO!!

ATW-SelfieAiahHappy Birthday ATW!! It’s difficult to believe that my book is already two years old!! It’s been an amazing couple of years for me since the book launch and thanksgiving party in Oslo!
It’s literally taken me Around the World in 79 events (talks, courses, Around the Garden tours etc.). This year has taken me to Japan, I’ve visited and given courses and talks at some famous gardens in the UK from Wardington Manor to Prince Charles’ Highgrove and I had a memorable tour of eastern Scotland (Edinburgh Botanics, Teeny Weeny Farm, Aberdeen and Findhorn)! I visited 3 botanical gardens in Norway, but the 400 people that turned up for my guided tour of the botanical gardens in Trondheim (1 in 5 bought the book!) surprised us all and was a real highlight :) Wherever I’ve been I’ve met amazing folk who are making a real difference in their communities and I’m thankful to have many new friends around the world! Thanks to everyone who has helped along the way <3.  I don’t plan to “retire” from plants just yet, so I will hopefully meet many more of you next year…and there are already many events planned for next year, from Canada, England, a tour with Arche Noah in Austria, the great Gothenberg botanical gardens and the wonderful Danish island Bornholm. I’ll also be teaching on a PDC in Trondheim and will be a talking at a film festival! Watch this space!

Please send your ATW Selfie if you’d like to be added to the ATW wall of fame ;)

I’ve collected all the  reviews here:
Oh, and Xmas is coming up ;) (advertisement over….)

On she who wrote Jade Balls and Alien Pearls….

Emma “the unconventional ethnobotanist” Cooper has been a favourite blogger in the realm of unusual vegetables for some time and has referenced this my little blog, on several occasions for which I’m deeply grateful <3
So, it was about time I returned the favour….
Emma has for a year now been tendrilling the big wide Internet for vegetable snippets to interest us, in her own words “Tendrils are my (ir)regular round-ups of the intriguing, plant-related goodness I find elsewhere on the interwebs. It’s my gift to you of a weekend of entertaining reading”.. (follow the link to be entertained: and search for tendrils for more of the same, well different…)
I’d encourage you to have a look, you won’t regret it..and she even mentions my “Many uses of Udo” article in the current issue…
Emma is also author of a book with an intriguing title “Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs: Unusual People and their Plants” or something like that, featuring a rogues gallery of the vegetable growers world amongst which yours truly features.
Thank you Emma Cooper……

An interview at Holma Forest Garden in Sweden

An interview with yours truly at Holma Forest Garden in Southern Sweden during my visit in early May. Filmed and produced by Jim Nilsson who did an excellent job I think :) The interviewer is Eric Karlsson!

Click here:

Below are a few pictures I took of early spring in the this great Forest Garden:


Most northerly overwintered edible Gunnera?

I was surprised to see two Gunneras (both tinctoria/chilensis and manicata) outside at the Ringve Botanical Gardens in Trondheim at the weekend.  Reidun Mork​ told me that they had used the same overwintering technique as they used at the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens, where she used to work. I knew exactly what she meant as I’d taking a picture in Copenhagen of this in early May (second picture). I’ve never seen overwintered Gunnera so far north before. Gunnera tinctoria is one of the 80 in my book and has special significance locally as the genus was named after Trondheim Bishop Gunnerus (by Linnaeus).
I must have a go at overwintering my pot grown specimen…