I don’t often post here about my other two gardens, the community garden at Væres Venner and the Onion Garden Chicago at the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim. The onion garden is nicely maturing and will be officially opened this summer on 26th August, 6 years since I started work creating a garden to house a national collection of old Norwegian perennial vegetable onions collected throughout the country, some 100 botanical species from around the world and many cultivars too! Here’s a couple of videos showing the garden on 25th June 2023 close to peak flowering, although there will be flowering Alliums all the way from May to the first heavy frosts in October / November! Tasty, beautiful and a great place to study pollinators! Can you smell it? There are now over 500 pictures from the garden in this large Facebook album
We’ve had a lovely 3 day visit this last weekend from artist Elin Eriksen from Nesodden starting a project based on my perennial vegetables. She sketched and photographed candidate plants in all 3 of my gardens, The Edible Garden, Ringve Botanical Gardens Onion Garden and the World Garden at Væres Venner! We look forward to seeing the results!
Elin has earlier created a poster of birds for Birdlife Norway (also for kids) and recently lead a course in botanical drawing for Sopp og Nyttevekstforbund at Valdres.
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!
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’d sent a few bulbs of twisted-leaf garlic (Allium obliquum) to members of Norwegian Seed Savers’ (KVANN) guild for Alliums and had a few left overover, so I fried them up for lunch and ate them with cheese on toast. A delicious sweetish taste after heating in olive oil. The onions are also a good size! This was one of the 80 in my book Around the World in 80 plants!
(Note that there is a comment suggesting that this isn’t atroviolaceum and is probably rotundum, although accessions I’ve received as that species are much lower plants; will check in the spring) Allium atroviolaceum is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental. I’ve been growing it for some 15 years now and it is admittedly not very productive as an edimental under my conditions, but it’s nevertheless a beauty and it is currently coming into flower both in my own garden and the Allium garden at the Ringve Botanical Garden in Trondheim, where the pictures below were taken. Its wild distribution is in the Crimea, Caucasus, Middle Asia (Mountainous Turkmenistan, Syr-Darya foothill areas) and Iran.
In the Armenian Highlands in Eastern Turkey, there are several ethnobotanical studies documenting its use in local food, presumably wild collected, although there are indications that it might also be cultivated for food including: 1) In otlu peyniri, a herbed cheese made out of sheep’s or cow’s milk. it is used as a flavouring along with many other species (from Wikipedia): Ranunculus polyanthemos L.(Ranunculaceae) Nasturtium officinale R. Br. (Brassicaceae) Gypsophila L. spp. (Caryophyllaceae) Silene vulgaris (Maench) Garcke var. vulgaris (Caryophyllaceae) Anthriscus nemorosa (Bieb.) Sprengel (Apiaceae) Carum carvi L. (Apiaceae) Anethum graveolens L. (Apiaceae) Prangos pabularia Lindl. (Apiaceae) Prangos ferulacea (L.) Lind. (Apiaceae) Ferula L. sp. (Apiaceae) Ferula orientalis L. (Apiaceae) Ferula rigidula DC. (Apiaceae) Thymus kotschyanus Boiss. et Hohen. var. glabrescens Boiss. (Lamiaceae) Thymus migricus Klokov et Des. – Shoct. (Lamiaceae) Mentha spicata L. subsp. spicata (Lamiaceae) Ziziphora clinopodioides Lam. (Lamiaceae) Ocimum basilicum L. (Lamiaceae) Eremurus spectabilis Bieb. (Liliaceae) Allium schoenoprasum L. (Liliaceae) Allium fuscoviolaceum Fomin (Liliaceae) Allium scorodoprasum L.subsp. rotundum(L.)Stearn (Liliaceae) Allium aucheri Boiss. (Liliaceae) Allium paniculatum L. subsp. paniculatum (Liliaceae) Allium akaka S. G. Gmelin (Liliaceae) Allium cf. cardiostemon Fisch. et Mey. (Liliaceae) 2) In another study, the young shoots are used in various dishes and as a flavouring with yoghurt. It us used both boiled and raw. The bulbs are used to replace garlic in food. Local names in Turkey include sirmo, körmen, and yabani sarimsak.
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)
Today at the Ringve Botanical Gardens I found the Allium garden was full of little workers eating the masses of birch seeds that had fallen during the winter….saving me a lot of work later. The first summer, there were thousands of birch seedlings in the garden…
I was walking through the garden yesterday towards the office at the Ringve in Trondheim and I heard a lot of noise coming from a group of conifers, magpies (skjære) excited about something. I walked around the trees to see if I could see what it was only to meet a couple of birders with long telephoto lenses! A tawny owl (kattugle), not something you see often in the garden. There are 3 reports of this species from Ringve, all in February during the last 10 years!
I’ve long had a Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) in the garden without a partner. The oldest is maybe 20 years old. I’ve several times tried to propagate more plants but they always died. I finally got a second plant going thanks to a gardening friend Alvilde who didn’t want hers anymore, but still no fruit, maybe it was a clone of the first one? This spring I took a few sprigs of flowering twigs from a couple of plants at the botanical garden at Ringve and put them next to my two plants. It did the trick as my two bushes were full of fruit this year, but only a few fruit on one of the bushes turned red and probably weren’t fully ripe. Perhaps we’ll make Polish Olives with them? It would be nice with a home grown olive surrogate? See Szczepaniak et al. (2019).
The bushes at Ringve, which were in a warmer and much sunnier spot than in my garden, were, on the other hand, laden with ripe fruit!
Although sour tasting raw, I was intrigued to see what they would taste like dried. My favourite dried fruit are sour cherries. Although not as good as those, I enjoyed the taste and they will this winter be part of my late winter dried fruit mixes that I eat every morning for breakfast once the fresh apples are finished.
There are many varieties of cornelian cherry bred for bigger fruits, there are also pear shaped fruit varieties and yellow cultivars. (Edit: My friend Jesper Bay tells me that there’s also a black fruited variety!) There are also a number of ornamental varieties, such as the wonderful variegated form I once saw laden with fruit in the Oxford Botanical Garden (see the pictures below).
´Elegantnyj´, ´Jalt´, ´Kijevskij´, ´Lukjanovskij´, ´Vydubeckij´ are Russian in origin; ´Devin´, ´Olomoucky, ´Ruzynsky´, ´Sokolnicky´, ´Titus´ are from Czechoslovakia and Slovakia; ´Joliko´ and ´Fruchtal´ are Austrian and ‘Ntoulia 1’ and ‘Ntoulia 2’ are Greek.<
There are also partially self-fertile varieties. Cornus mas has been cultivated commercially for centuries in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Turkey has today an important Cornelian cherry industry.
‘Kasanlaker’ is a large fruited cultivar which is available from nurseries in Western Europe.
I remember on a visit to Scandinavia’s oldest forest garden at Holma in Southern Sweden being shown a large Cornus mas in the centre of the city Lund on 1st September 2017! Here’s a picture of various forest gardeners harvesting the fruit (the tree was full):
Oskar M. Szczepaniak, Kobus‑Cisowska, J., Kusek, W. and Przeo, M. 2019. Functional properties of Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas L.): a comprehensive review. European Food Research and Technology. 245:2071–2087
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden