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!
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).
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!
I was away in the UK unexpectedly for two weeks in June. In my absence, there was a mini-heat wave here with plentiful rainfall too and 24 hour light. Growth was phenomenal and I took this series of videos to document the garden at its wildest (I had only cleared the paths of overhanging and fallen plants so that I could walk around the garden).
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
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
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)
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)
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)
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.
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden