It’s always a nice surprise to discover a plant in flower in the garden that I thought long dead! Yesterday I discovered a plant that I’m pretty sure is Ornithogalum pyramidale (Pyramidal star-of-Bethlehem). I planted 8 two year old plants in this location in 2016. This species is used in a similar way to Bath asparagus (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum) as I wrote in my book: “There are at least three other similar species used in a similar way in the Mediterranean, Ornithogalum narbonense (mainly in eastern parts) and O. pyramidale and O. creticum (Dogan et al., 2004; Rivera et al., 2006).” I’ll have to rediscover it a bit earlier next year!
Making nettle water (fertiliser) this afternoon and I checked if there were any butterfly / moth larvae under the leaves, but I missed one and this beauty floated to the surface along with some tiny bugs. It’s the larva of the Comma butterfly (Hvit C). I moved the larva back onto a nettle plant…
A new species in the garden this year is the Pacific waterleaf or slender-stem waterleaf ( Hydrophyllum tenuipes) from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. It was a food plant of First Peoples on the West Coast. Mine came courtesy of the Gothenburg Botanical Garden.
Indian salad or Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum) is also currently in flower and features elsewhere on this blog, being one of my favourite spring salad plants and one of the 80 in my book Around the World in 80 plants.
I’ve failed several times to establish Hydrophyllum canadense, the species I’d expected to be easier. The other I grow is Hydrophyllum appendiculatum which is biennial and not yet in flower.
Samaritan’s Goatsbeard (Tragopogon crocifolius subsp. samaritanii) is currently flowering, a biannual species from Southern Europe (Italian: Barba di becco di Samaritani). and it’s a beauty! In Scandinavia, Tragopogon crocifolius is only found on the Baltic island Gotland. See otherwise my (Norwegian) article on the ethnobotany of Scorzonera and Tragopogon here https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=21020
Last night’s greens included all my 16 Hostas, Allium scorodoprasum (sand leek / bendelløk) scapes; broccolis from sea kale (strandkål), ornamental sea kale (Crambe cordifolia) and Turkish rocket (Bunias orientalis); and flower buds of two daylilies Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus and Hemerocallis dumortieri!
I’m more and more convinced that perennial kales are the way forward. After two mild winters I’ve had good overwintering of most varieties except Tree Collards from California.
The film below shows a kale which I call “Walsall Allotments” which I found growing at Walsall Allotments in Birmingham (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=2868) on the allotment of a Kenyan man. I never managed to find out where he got these kale from, but Kenya is the only country was the only country where perennial kales were still grown commercially at the time I was researching my book. At the end of the video we see another perennial Brassicaceae, sea kale (strandkål) Crambe maritima. Note that the variety Lily White flowers significantly earlier than my other varieties.
A few days ago the plague of Brassica growers, diamond back moth (kålmøll) arrived in significant numbers here and I see on various FB groups that folk are using floating mulch and enviromesh to protect their crops. I had done the same for years, but decided that I wanted to grow vegetables without non-sustainable oil based products like Agryl fleece which is no doubt also a major source of plastic fibres in nature. Agryl is also used to bring on annual crops earlier. However, there is an alternative plastic free and sustainable alternative using perennials. As you can see, my kales having grown for two and a half months are large and have been providing kale leaves since early spring. Their main growth period is now over but will be resumed in autumn. Although diamond back moths and other butterflies lay their eggs on these kales damage isn’t significant. Therefore I am totally unworried by this invasion of moths!
Of course there are problems with perennial kales too, such as cold hardiness, deer and woodpigeons (rådyr / ringduer) in the winter and lack of diversity, but breeding projects by amateurs such as Chris Homanics in Oregon are changing all that!
A week ago I noticed my oldest Pinus cembra was full of male flowers (pictures at the bottom) and yesterday it was shedding pollen as you can see in the videos. In cold climates pines are the best bet for nut production although I can grow hazels and walnuts here. I’ve told the story before as to how Siberian Nutcrackers “planted” (read: cached) pine trees in my garden from plantings of this species locally on Malvikodden in the 1970s which started bearing fruits in the 1990s. Because people have planted the food plant of Siberian Nutcrackers, there is now an isolated population of breeding birds in this area and the birds are actively spreading their food plant by caching the nuts for winter food. I’ve had one cone on my tree so far a couple of years ago