Tag Archives: oenanthe javanica

The mini-pond and marginal areas

My house was given the name Bergstua by the previous owners, literally meaning house on the rock, a rocky hillside overlooking the fjord. Not a natural place for a pond. I wanted to have a pond somewhere, initially mainly for wildlife, habitat for frogs, drinking water for birds etc. 
I eventually chose a small depression in the rock where the previous owners had presumably blasted a hole in order to erect a flagpole. Not being one for flags, I decided to convert this area into a pond and this involved removing both the metal support and concrete base and this took a couple of years of hard work as I also wanted to avoid machines. If it was feasible by hand I would do it by hand, even resisting an electric drill  for many years. I used to come home from work and spent half an hour every day hacking at the concrete with a metal digging bar and when that was eventually removed deepening the depression in the shale-like rock (phyllite).

The hedge you can see behind the pond was Cotoneaster lucidus which has non-edible berries that not even birds take until they are desperate. We bought a rubber liner for the pond in the UK on one of our trips to visit family. I initially filled the pond and the boggy marginal areas with wild plants and creatures like water boatmen and frog spawn from lakes in the area, but regretted a few of the introductions like Equisetum fluviatile (swamp horsetail). The frogs never really thrived but a few survived for a few years and one took up residence in our septic tank…
I later gradually converted the pond to an edible pond and the hedge behind was dug out and replaced by a diverse edible/bird friendly hedge including Morus alba, Crataegus, Viburnum edule, Sambucus nigra “Variegata”, Viburnum opulus, Amelanchier “Thiessen”, Rosa spp., Staphylea (bladder nut) and a few others. About 10 years ago, I overhauled the pond, digging out all the soil and replanting from scratch in order to remove all the horsetail and other aggressive plants. Below is a video of my little collection of water and bog plants this week and below the video is  list of plants we see:

Featuring the following plants:
Gunnera tinctoria (G. chilensis) is one of the 80 in my book Around the World in 80 plants (ATW80)
Althaea officinalis (Marsh mallow/ legestokkrose)
Allium validum (Swamp onion, Pacific onion) which is also included in ATW80
Caltha leptosepala (Western marsh marigold, White marsh marigold / hvit soleihov)
Darmera peltata (Umbrella plant, indian rhubarb / skjoldsildre)
Lilium canadense ssp michiganense (Canada lily, Michigan lily / Canadalilje)
Saxifraga pensylvanica (Swamp saxifrage) is also in ATW80
Typha angustifolia (Reedmace, bulrush, cattails / smal dunkjevle)
Filipendula ulmaria “Variegata” (Meadowsweet / mjødurt)
Polygonum hydropiper (Water pepper / vasspepper)
Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp agrimony / hjortetrøst) (for insects and butterflies)
Zizania latifolia (Manchurian wild rice) – not very useful as it’s the swollen stems infected by a fungus which is used.
Lycopus spp.
Apium nodiflorum (
Fool’s watercress, European marshwort)
Oenanthe javanica (Water dropwort, seri)



An alternative spring harvest

Somebody asked me the other day if I use floating mulch (fiberduk / agryl) to be able to harvest all these greens so early. No, no and again no….this is one of the biggest benefits of perennial vegetables….it is totally natural, no microplastics are released into the environment, no oil is needed to plough the fields, significantly less migrant labour is needed and little or no fertiliser and water is needed, it is almost totally free once established and can yield year after year! So, whilst large areas of farmland in the northern hemisphere are being covered by plastic mulches to bring on annual crops for the market earlier, I’d just like to point out that there’s an alternative better way!
So, here are the plants that I harvested for yesterday’s delicious green pasta sauce:
Armoracia rusticana shoots (horseradish / pepperrot)
Myrrhis odorata
(sweet cicely / spansk kjørvel)
Houttuynia cordata “Chinese Market” (shoots and rhizomes from the cellar; this cultivar is significantly larger than other Houttuynia I’ve grown) (Fish herb, Himalayan water creeper)
Allium senescens x nutans (hybrid Siberian onions)
Laurus nobilis (bay / laurbær)
Brassica oleracea (perennial kales)
Crambe maritima (sea kale / strandkål)
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion / løvetann)
Allium x proliferum (walking onion / luftløk)
Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach / stjernemelde)
Dystaenia takesimana (giant Ulleung celery, seombadi)
Oenanthe javanica (seri)
Polymnia edulis (yacon) (second picture)
plus garlic and chili 

Greens (and reds) harvested from under the snow in the garden and in the cellar; Houttuynia cordata are the red shoots bottom left
Yacon

Korean supermarket in Vancouver BC

I was keen to visit a Korean supermarket when I was in Vancouver and some Koreans I met in Victoria on a walk recommended H Mart, a chain of supermarkets specialising in Asian food and particularly Korean. The “H” in “H Mart” stands for Han Ah Reum, a Korean phrase meaning “one arm full of groceries”!
I was hoping to find Korean Aster (chwinamul or Aster scaber), but I couldn’t find it… However, there were a few other interesting perennial vegetables!