Despite the fact that the soil is frozen solid apart from the top couple of cms, I was surprised to discover the year’s first flowers in the garden: 1. I received this as Primula veris subsp. macrocalyx but is always a couple of months earlier than Primula veris, so I wonder if it’s a hybrid?
2. Primula elatior (oxlip / hagenøkleblom) – this could also be a hybrid
WELCOME TO MY NEW SEED TRADE LIST FOR WINTER 2022-23, THIS YEAR WITH 338 CHOICES 20, 21, 22 indicate the harvesting year for the seed. Concerning seed quantity: as I don’t have many plants of each species, seed quantity is limited in most cases. Therefore, for some species you may only get a few seeds. Many species are harvested in my garden. Others are surplus from trade and purchase. OUT: Means out of stock. NB! Cultivars do not always come true. I offer them anyway, but no guarantees to what you will get! NOTE: I don’t sell seed and I won’t be doing many trades this winter due to a busy schedule. However, I offer all plus others to members of Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN) through our spring (February) “yearbook” and autumn catalogue. To become a member go to https://kvann.no/bli-med. It costs only kr. 250 / year plus postage and packing. For trades, I am mainly interested in uncommon hardy perennials, but I may also be interested in annuals. NB! Not all plants in the list are edible, although almost all are! (The text in the list is at the moment only in Norwegian, but the botanical and cultivar names are included)
In Denmark’s major ethnobotanical work, Brøndegaard’s Folk og Flora (1978-80), ground elder (skvalderkål; Aegopodium podograria) is one of seven different greens used in a once common health-bringing springtime dish, skærtorsdagssuppen (skærtorsdag=Maundy Thursday) and I included this in my book as a number of perennials were among the ingredients as they are at their best around Easter when this dish was served: The number 7 is considered lucky in different cultures around the world and is often seen as highly symbolic. This Danish dish is related to the northern England dish Dock Pudding, which has very similar ingredients (see Easter Ledge Pudding in my book Around the World in 80 plants).
After my book was published I came across another seven vegetable dish from Japan, nanakusa, which contains an unusual mix of edible plants (see the first slide below – from my talks over recent years) including perennial Oenanthe javanica (seri) and as fate would have it, on my study tour to Japan, organised by my friend Aiah Noack, I was taken to a farm where they were actually producing several of these herbs (pictures below). Greenhouses full of common chickweed (Stellaria media; vassarve) was a sight I won’t forget easily! Today, 7th January, is the Festival of Seven Herbs or Nanakusa no sekku (Japanese: 七草の節句) and is the old Japanese custom of eating seven-herb rice porridge on this day.
As I was writing this I wondered if there were other seven herb traditions out there and, right enough, a quick google search revealed two others (please let me know if you know of others): Seven vegetables on the seventh day of the Chinese New Year is eaten for luck and health, a tradition perserved by the Teochew or Chaoshan people in Southern China. The following five vegetables must be included, the other two are flexible: celery, garlic, green onions, coriander and leeks. Seven vegetable couscous: Seven is a lucky number in Jewish tradition and a dish featuring seven vegetables is a New Year favourite among Sephardic Jews (early autumn). A recipe can be seen here: https://theveganatlas.com/seven-vegetable-couscous