Category Archives: Garden tour

The wildest garden

Carmen Porter and Hemmingford

I’ve met some wonderful people on my journeys over the last 10 years. One of them is my friend Carmen Porter in Hemmingford, Quebec who kindly offered to put me up when I was invited to Canada in April 2017.  The reason for being in Hemmingford was for a meeting and to give a talk at La Ferme des Quatre Temps, the farm managed by author of The Market Gardener,  Jean-Martin Fortier,  which is just down the road from where Carmen and her mother Tamlin George live. 

Jean Martin Fortier at La Ferme des Quatre Temps

Carmen is a young singer-songwriter inspired by herbs and nature who is also a keen gardener. She has a wonderful podcast series called Songs and Plants which presents tunes where “the scientific names of species comprise the lyrical content”. I was recently in touch with Carmen again in connection with a music video of her song Botanical Berceuse
(a lullaby of sedative herbs!). I helped with a few plant pictures. This is real permaculture music that teaches as one listens! She joined us for the seminar and a tour of the farm with three young permaculturists including Jonathan Pineault and Alexandre Guertin from the company Écomestible (www.ecomestible.com), who had been contracted to grow perennial vegetables on the farm for sale! I wonder how it’s going almost 5 years later (wow, has it really taken me so long to blog about this!)
After the seminar and farm tour, Carmen drove me to her place and we had a tour of her garden, although it was very early spring and only a few sprouts had emerged. I think also it was only just the year before she’d started work (and the gardens have expanded greatly since I was there).

Have a listen to Amaranthaceae by Carmen Porter before reading more (who else could make “a sentimental ballad for lovers of spinach, quinoa and family”)?

A fig overwintering in the living room, just like home:


Thanks to Carmen for sharing the pictures of how her garden looked 4 years on!!! First, the front garden:

…and the back garden:

The next day we went for a walk in the Hemmingford woods in a nature reserve area, the path ending at a place they call the “Gulf” locally right on the US border and I went rogue and illegally stepped into the United States of America. Shortly afterwards we heard a helicopter and retreated quickly back into the forest as a raven flew ominously overhead!

So early in the spring there were only a few plants to see, although we did see a few Erythronium (trout lily) shoots, so it wouldn’t have been long after that the woods would have been awash with spring flowers! I’ve collected pictures from the walk below:

A short video of the Gulf: 

Who else than Carmen could have written “A love song celebrating the relationship between Cucurbita pepo and Peponapis pruinosa” (squash and a solitary bee)! Beeloved is great original permaculture music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoYO1mtg-HQ

Finally, a few pictures from the woods behind Carmen’s house including pitcher plants (I was surprised to see these out so early):

…and, approaching a pool in the woods with cattails, I was convinced we were hearing ducks calling until Carmen put me right. This is the call of the wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), a fascinating species you can read more about here


Many thanks again to Tamlin George and Carmen for your hospitality during my visit to Hemmingford :)
Listen to more of Carmen’s Songs and Plants blogs including an interview with Experimental Farm Network’s Nathan Kleinmann here


Mountain Gardens tour with Joe Hollis

A year ago, on 22nd September 2019, Joe Hollis had invited me to do a walk and talk with him at his Mountain Gardens in North Carolina! Before the event he took me around the woodlands to show me the woodland flora. I made a short video at most of the plants to help me remember what they were. I’ve now put them together into one video (see below). Joe talks briefly about the following plants:
Disporum spp. (trachycarpum?)  (medicinal)
Medeola virginiana; Indian cucumberroot
Hosta sieboldiana (self-seeding)  (food)
Panax quinquefolius; American ginseng
Prenanthes trifolioliata; Gall of the earth (Food and medicine)
Smilax rotundifolia; common greenbrier (Food and medicine)
Acer spp.; maple
Castanea spp.; chestnut
Sassafras albidum; sassafras (Medicine and beverage/spice)
Cacalia delphinifolia? (Far Eastern edible and medicinal)
After the video is a gallery of photos taken on the same tour. Will post more from the walk and talk later.
This is one of several blog posts about my visit to Joe. See more by searching here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=joe+hollis

 

Visitors from Ohio

One year ago, it was a pleasure to spend some time touring Joe Hollis’ Mountain Gardens with these three guys who’d come all the way from NE Ohio and Columbus Ohio (an 8-9 hour drive).
John Wright from NE Ohio
Isaac John Koblentz from NE Ohio via Scandinavia :)
Jared Morris (Columbus, Ohio) (he gave me some delicious pawpaws, Asimina triloba)
 

A visit from Oslo and Kirkenes

With most Norwegians holidaying in different parts of Norway this year, there are a lot of folks passing Malvik both northwards and southwards and I’ve recently had several requests to visit the garden again. On Saturday,  I spent a pleasant couple of hours in the company of Mads Pålsrud (from GROWLAB, who designed Norwegian Seed Savers / KVANN’s logos) and musician/gardener Bård Watn from Oslo who were here together with Karoline Rånes Fagerheim, who lives in Kirkenes, and her friend Rannveig:

Mads took the following pictures during the garden tour (nice to see what somebody else notices in the garden)



The Allium garden at Ringve

19th June 2020: Video update from the Allium (Chicago) garden at the NTNU Ringve Botanical Gardens in Trondheim. The heat wave has brought many species into flower and the garden’s looking great! 
The official opening of the garden, planned for August, has been postponed to 2021. We are working on plant signs which will hopefully be added later in the summer.
The garden currently contains some 300 accessions including around 100 Allium species and many old Norwegian onions collected over several years from all over the country and funded by Norsk Genressurssenteret and Landbruksdirektoratet.
The signs for the garden are in part funded through a gift from Skjærgaarden (https://www.skjaergaarden.no) to KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) who have decided to use the gift at Ringve (see https://www.facebook.com/skjaergaarden.no/videos/2972781459487864)

A tour of the lower parts

I thought I’d take you for a tour of the lower parts of the garden including the forest garden. No commentary, let’s just listen to the birds and observe. In the first video, I unexpectedly stumble on a willow warbler (løvsanger), my first in the garden this year, foraging on the ground in the cold weather….you can otherwise hear singing redwing (rødvingetrost), great tit (kjøttmeis), fieldfare (gråtrost), meadow pipit (heipiplerke), house sparrow (gråspurv) and blue tit (blåmeis) in one of the two videos.

In the gardens at the Gothenburg Botanics in January

I also walked around the outside gardens during my visit to the Gothenburg Botanical Gardens on Saturday 25th January 2020. In the mild weather, there were many people out walking and running in the garden. Here’s an album of pictures of edibles and other interesting plants and a video of the large Actinidia arguta in the Asiatic woodland garden. 

Actinidia arguta

Edibles in the January Bulb Garden at the Gothenburg Botanics

On my way north from Vienna to Oslo, I found myself unexpectedly with a 4 hour wait in Gothenburg in Sweden, and there was no hesitation to visit one of the great botanical gardens. I had no idea what there would be to see in January but with the mild winter I was surprised how much there was to see. Here are a collection of wierd and wonderful edibles in the unique bulb house!

A weekend in paradise: arrival and the Celo Inn

In April 2018 both myself and Joe Hollis were invited as speakers at The Potential of Perennials for Food System Resilience Symposium in Stans,  Switzerland. I also had the opportunity to spend a great day botanising at two of Zurich’s Botanical Gardens with Joe, see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=17040

Joe said to me at the time that I should come visit if I was ever in the US. I already knew at that time I was invited by Sam Thayer and Melissa Price to the Midwest Wild Harvest Festival at the end of September this year, but Joe’s place seemed a long trek south, so I forgot the idea. Then this spring, I was asked if I would be interested to do a talk at the Atlanta Botanical Garden….and I managed to change my travel plans to do this…and looking at the map I noticed it wasn’t too far from Joe’s Mountain Gardens (aka as Paradise)! So I contacted him and he replied: “Good to hear from you and that is great news!  I am very much looking forward to showing you around my garden and adjacent National Forest land, there is a lot to see”.

So it came to past that I arrived in Asheville, North Carolina on 21st September 2019 and picked up a hire car as Joe’s place was an hour or more up in the Black Mountains subrange of the Appalachians. Four hours later I arrived at my hotel, the Celo Inn (as for why it took so long see the album captions).  It turns out that the Celo community is one of the oldest intentiona communities in the world (1937), based on ideals of cooperation between residents and care for the natural environment….and it turns out that a neighbour and old colleague back in Trondheim actually went to school here…small world!

The pictures below show the approach road to Mountain Gardens from the Celo Inn (only a 5-10 min, drive away) and my first look into the garden!

Entering the garden for the first time I spy what is probably the native North American devil’s walking stick Aralia spinosa in full flower. Does this species flower much later than Japanese Aralia elata? My A. elata had finished flowering at home.

The following morning I walked around the grounds of the Celo Inn on a warm sunny day with monarch and swallowtail butterflies on the ornamental Asters. The owners had quite extensive vegetable beds and the ripe chilis bore witness that the summers were hot even up here in the mountains.

A type of swallowtail butterfly at the Celo Inn