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!
Many years ago, I visited a Polynesian market in New Zealand and bought some tubers that were called Tarua in the South Pacific Islands…similar but different (and larger) to the more common Taro (Colocasia esculenta). For a plant that supposedly originated from tropical lowland Malaysia, Taro is a surprisingly cold hardy plant making a nice edimental house plant that can be outside in the summer even in my cool climate! I took a Tarua tuber home and grew it as a house plant for some years. It is probably Xanthosoma sagittifolium, also known as Elephant Ears, and closely related to Taro and similarly quite hardy! See the pictures below.
A couple of weeks ago, I finally got round to inviting botanist Kamal Acharya and his wife Sharmila Phuyal to see my garden!! They were amazed to see so many plants that they were familiar with from home and I blogged about this here:
They asked (begged?) couldn’t we come and make you a Nepalese meal with plants from your garden! I just had to find time for this and I’m very glad I did as it was a fantstic meal. Yes, I’m a very lucky man!!
Each day on the trip to Japan had been equally amazing as the day before with new plant and food discoveries all the way!! The venue for my talk in Tokyo was the art/photography studio belonging to a guy called Ken Takewaki. It turned out he’d spent a lot of time in the UK working on organic farms and knew the owner of Poyntzfield Nursery in Scotland well and I’d already planned to try to visit Poyntzfield on my Scotland trip in September! Knowing that I was heading for the mountains after Tokyo, Ken kindly invited me to visit his mountain home! What a place and the food was out of this world! Ken and his lady Masami had made a special effort to feed me sansai!
The next morning it was as if I’d been transported home in my dreams as there was new snow on the ground at the Ken’s home at 1300m. The day before it has been over 20C at 600m! Thanks so much to Tei, who I got to know through Caroline Ho Bich-Tuyen Dang, a member of Norwegian Seed Savers, for showing me so much of her village near Besshou (Ueda) in Nagano Prefecture and sharing all the amazing sansai and sake and for taking me to Ken’s place! More on Besshou later when I get time!Thank you so much too Ken and Masami for your hospitality!
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While we’re on the subject of taro (Colocasia esculenta), I’m reminded that it can make an excellent edimental house plant which I put out in the garden in summer! The dark leaved cultivars such as Black Magic are particularly edimental!
I remember posting an article about a new material that had been developed inspired by the water repellent leaves of Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla spp.). Another species with very high water repellence (so-called superhydrophobicity) is the root vegetable taro (Colocasia esculenta) . Here it is demonstrating what is known as the Lotus effect on my balcony! See more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_effect