Category Archives: Garden tour

The Onion Garden Chicago on 3rd July 2024

The Onion Garden Chicago at the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim, Norway contains over 100 Allium species and over 400 different accessions including a collection of old Norwegian onions which I collected across the country with support from the Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre and the Norwegian Agricultural Authority. You can safely eat all Alliums and most species have in the past been wild foraged. A few do have an unpleasant taste, but most are good to eat including some of the best-known ornamental onions, some of the best edimentals (combined food and beauty) and edi-ento-mentals: also a very popular genus for pollinators like bumble bees. Members of KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) in Norway can order most of the Alliums grown in the garden each autumn (please support us by becoming a member at
These are the 40 main Alliums I talk about, in order of appearance: Allium cernuum (nodding onion; Chicago onion; prærieløk) Allium cernuum “Alan Kapuler”(nodding onion; Chicago onion; prærieløk) Allium canadense Allium fistulosum (rooftop onion; takløk from the Gudbrandsdalen valley) a) From Søre Kleivmellomsæter, Mysusæter in Rondane at 885m asl b) From Nordre Geitsida, Sel municipality Allium cyathophorum var. cyathophorum Allium hymenorhizum Allium insubricum Allium validum (Pacific or swamp onion from California) Allium scorodoprasum (sand leek; bendelløk – garlic derives from old norse geirlauk meaning spear onion as demonstrated) Allium tricoccum (ramps) Allium caeruleum “Bulbilliferous form” Allium wallichii (Sherpa or Nepal onion) Allium senescens (Siberian onion) Allium fistulosum (Welsh onion; pipeløk) from Skedsmokorset, Akershus Allium sativum (hardneck / serpent garlic; slangehvitløk) Allium victorialis “Cantabrica” from northern Spain (Victory onion; seiersløk) Allium victorialis “Røst, Norway” from the island in the Lofoten Islands in Norway (Victory onion; seiersløk) Allium x proliferum “Catawissa onion” (topset, Egyptian or walking onions; luftløk, etasjeløk) Allium pskemense (tower onion; tårnløk) Allium pskemense x fistulosum “Wietse’s onion” Allium ochotense from Japan (earlier Allium victorialis) Allium carolinianum Allium moly (golden garlic, lily leek; gull-løk) Allium caesium Allium schoenoprasum (chives; gressløk) – deadheaded Allium douglasii (Douglas’ onion; Douglasløk) Allium cernuum “Dwarf White” (nodding onion; Chicago onion; prærieløk) Allium prattii x ovalifolium? (Chinese hybrid) Allium galanthum Allium rotundum Allium schoenoprasum subsp. sibiricum “Hokkaido” – later flowering than other chives Allium ovalifolium var. leuconeurum Allium flavum subsp. flavum var. minus (small yellow onion; doggløk) Allium ramosum Allium stipitatum (Persian shallots; Persisk sjalott) Allium maximowiczii var shibutsuense f. album Allium victorialis “Landegode, Nordland, Norway” (Victory onion; seiersløk) Allium nutans “Lena” (Siberian nodding onion; Sibirsk nikkeløk) Allum lenkoranicum

Hagevandring med Malvik Hagelag

Dette var kanskje den 10. gangen Malvik Hagelag hadde vært på hagevandring hos meg, over en snart 40 års periode! Jeg meldte meg inn i hagelaget og var med på møtene fra midten av 80-tallet. Den gangen var jeg den yngste (de fleste medlemmer var pensjonister). Det var derfor interessant å reflektere over at nå hadde jeg kanskje blitt eldst!
Det var en flott sommerkveld og 30C og noen meldte avbud pga temperaturen! Men, det var en fin gjeng som var med og hørte på mine bortforklaringer for hvorfor hagen hadde blitt så vill….hadde jeg mistet kontroll i mine gamle dager? Neida…..bare sluppet kontroll bevisst og overført kontrollen til mine to andre hagene på Væres Venners felleshagen og Løkhagen Chicago!
Og denne gangen hadde de bestilt en salat, og det ble ca 130 forskjellige spiselige planter. Årets første jordbær og rips ble ofret og blomsterstander av gulblomstret Allium hookeri var muliense, Allium cernuum mfl. Vi avsluttet med plante- og boksalg!

Edibles at RHS Wisley

Since my last visit to RHS Wisley 5 years ago there have been large changes, notably the RHS Hilltop building and adjacent World Food Garden. Last Thursday I was fortunate to be invited to visit by head of the RHS Edibles team, Sheila Das, who had attended my talk on home territory in the autumn (see I was bowled over by the scale of what has already been achieved and the ambitious plans for the future moving away from the “conventional” towards organics, food forests, food diversity, no dig etc. and firmly anchored in improving  biodiversity – pollinators, habitat, the important role of fungi etc (less cutting, more untidy and irregular), sustainability and climate friendly gardening.
After showing me the plans, Sheila took me on to rooftop of Hilltop to get a bird’s eye view of the World Food Garden before walking around. The rigid rectangular growing beds of old are gone, replaced by curved beds in all shapes and sizes and gone also are the straight lines, replaced by irregular intercropping and demonstration of the incredible diversity of food crops available to the UK grower. Edible climbers were being trained up the outside of the perimeter wooden fence. You can already see a number of perennials in the 1 acre World Food Garden (my own Word Garden at 12m diameter now seems tiny in comparison!).  Below can be seen various pictures that I took on a tour of what has become probably the most popular part of RHS Wisley – amazing to witness this transition of the RHS as largely an organisation for ornamental gardeners to an organisation where more than 50% of members today note growing food as their main interest. Of course, edimentals can help bridge the gap between the two gardening camps! See the pictures and captions below for more!


The 2023 Permaveggies / Forest Gardening course

The 5th Permaveggies / Forest Gardening course I’ve held in Malvik took place on Sunday 21st and Monday 22nd May with guest Jen McConachie who gave her forest gardening course at Presthus Farm on the Monday evening. On the Sunday we met at my garden (The Edible Garden) for a garden tour and lunch from the garden with focus this year on growing food while maintaining a high biodiversity. On Monday we visited The Væres Venner Community garden to see the World Garden and also the large collection of edible trees and bushes that have been planted there, followed by a visit to the Onion Garden at the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim.
Previous Permaveggies weekends were held in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2019 whilst the 2020-weekend had to be cancelled because of Covid. More information on previous courses can be found here: Previous Permaveggies Courses.
I didn’t take many pictures this year, so thanks to Meg Anderson, Jen McConachie and Mark Tacker who took the pictures below.


In the Onion Garden Chicago at the Ringve Botanical Garden:

After Jen’s forest garden course, the participants split into groups to design a forest garden in a field next to the farm which it is planned to be developed as a forest garden (get in touch if you are interested!). Here is one of the groups presenting their plans:

Organic week in Trøndelag / Økouka i Trøndelag

Last week was National Organic Week (Økouka), a busy week for me as I had two garden tours in my Edible Garden in Malvik (the rain stopped both days just before we started), a walk and talk in the community garden at Væres Venner and a talk at Stammen Cafe & Bar in Trondheim on “Perennial Climate-friendly Food Plants for Urban Areas” talking about 15 advantages of growing perennials! Below you can see pictures from each of the events which were all well attended. I’ve credited the various photographers below. Thanks to all that came along!

1. Garden tour on Wednesday 27th September 

Making the Ø letter for Økouka (picture: Margaret Anderson)

2. Talk at Stammen 

Picture by Margaret Anderson

2. Garden tour on Sunday 1st October

Picture by Margaret Anderson

Pictures by Markus Tacker (click on the album pictures for more information):

Pictures by Marit By (click on the album pictures for more information)::

4. Walk and talk in the Væres Venner Community Garden
Pictures by Marit By (the World Garden looking good in its autumn colours with the backdrop of the old ash trees):



Visit from the National Museum and Credo

Continuing a series of visits and projects where art meets my perennial vegetables. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of welcoming a delegation from the National Museum (Nasjonalmuseet),
Thanks to Heidi Bjerkan of Credo Restaurant who suggested that they should also visit my garden when in Trondheim on a fact-finding mission in connection with a planned exhibition celebrating 20 years of “New Nordic Food” in 2024 (see! Credo are one of Trondheim’s acCREDOited Michelin restaurants whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with and advise several times in the past. Here are a couple of pictures from the couple of hours they were here on a wonderful summer day with the garden at its most seductive :)
3 from Nasjonalmuseet with Martin Braathen on the far right with two Hablitzia plants to be planted outside the museum, with two also from Credo including Heidi Bjerkan!

Fact-finding mission: promoting perennial vegetables


On Tuesday 23rd May I spent a great few hours together with Eva Johansson and Annevi Sjöberg from Sweden in my 3 gardens. They were on a fact-finding mission in connection with the project  ”Främja fleråriga grönsaker i svensk matförsörjning” (Promoting perennial vegetables in the Swedish food supply).
The project Främja fleråriga grönsaker i svensk matförsörjning is financed  with funds from the Swedish Agency for Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) within the framework of the Swedish food strategy (den svenska livsmedelsstrategin). The project runs until Dec 2023. The Skillebyholm Foundation manages the project.
Jen from Nottingham in the UK was visiting this week to help and learn, thanks to an RHS bursary! She joined us on the trip and can also be seen in the pictures below!

Jen, Eva and Annevi were on an Allium-high after spending time in the Onion Garden Chicago at the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim :)
Me with Eva, Jen and Annevi in the Edible Garden
Sampling Hablitzia tamnoides shoots in my garden

God Save the King’s Hostas!

My only post on last weekend’s big news item. This memory came up on my feed this morning. In October 2015 I talked about my book Around the World in 80 plants at the Walled Kitchen Garden Network Forum weekend at the National Trust Property Croome Court in Worcestershire, England. As usual I joked about Prince Charles having the most productive Forest Garden in the UK as he had a national collection of large-leaved Hostas in woodland at Highgrove. Little did I know that the Prince’s head gardener was sat near the front. After the talk, he introduced himself, astonished that Hosta were edible. I thought quickly and presented him with a copy of the book and signed it “To HRH Prince Charles, Good luck with your Hosta eating!”. I had known of the Prince’s good works within the organic gardening movement since the 70s and indeed Highgrove is managed as an organic farm.
I was surprised to receive this letter later that winter and it resulted in a correspondence about Hosta cuisine which lead to me being invited to Highgrove to talk more and see the Hosta collection (sadly, there are no pictures of that day as cameras are strictly forbidden nor was I allowed to see the pictures the staff took). I had a hope that the Prince might turn up, but he had a lame excuse that it was his Mum’s birthday…..and now I’ve had to modify the slide about Hostas and Highgrove (see the comments).
God Save the King’s Hostas!

My Highgrove Hosta slide:

Garden visits with Fosen students

It’s always a pleasure to spend time with students from the Fosen Folk High School from the other side of the fjord. Despite the dreadful weather, we visited all 3 of my sites – the onion garden Chicago at the Ringve Botanical Gardens followed by the Væres Venners Community Garden and, finally, my own garden The Edible Garden (this is the first time I’ve taken a group to all 3 sites!).
Those that took part were two of the “lines”: The Self-sufficiency line and the  The Organic Farming line (small scale).
The Organic Farming line were only on the first two visits, so the picture only shows the Self-sufficiency folk!

The wildest garden