About 20 years ago I sowed some sweet chestnuts that I found in Southern England. One germinated and surpisingly to me it survived the first few winters. I therefore planted it out at the bottom of the garden. However, this area of the garden was overplanted and it became survival of the fittest (I didn’t really believe I would ever get chestnuts!)… It continued to grow slowly and survived one of our coldest winters ever around 2011 with only the tips freezing out (the whole root system down to the bed rock would have been frozen solid for 3-4 months). Seeing the exciting possibility of growing perhaps the furthest north chestnuts in the world, I gave the tree more space and planted a second tree (Marigoule) next to it (one tree can produce nuts, but yields are better with two). Then 3-4 weeks ago I noticed that the now about 5m high tree had produced a few male and female flowers which were opening at about the same time and I hope I now have a couple of chestnuts developing. However, it’s debatable if they will have time to mature in what has been a really cold summer here at 63.4 deg. N!
This year’s udo (Aralia cordata) selfie pictures, probably the highest ever with a flowering spike way above my head. I harvested about 1/3 of the shoots in the spring. This is my largest herbaceous perennial vegetable that was planted here 20 years old ago! It has never had any fertiliser and is growing on the steepest slope in my garden. Ostrich fern (strutseving) and giant bellflower (storklokke) can be seen in the foreground.
This is the title of an 11 page article on my garden in a new Austrian book on edible forest gardens and agroforestry systems by permaculturist Bernhard Gruber. I wish I could read German! I briefly met Bernhard who attended my talk in Graz, Austria in January 2020.
A year ago, on 22nd September 2019, Joe Hollis had invited me to do a walk and talk with him at his Mountain Gardens in North Carolina! Before the event he took me around the woodlands to show me the woodland flora. I made a short video at most of the plants to help me remember what they were. I’ve now put them together into one video (see below). Joe talks briefly about the following plants: Disporum spp. (trachycarpum?) (medicinal) Medeola virginiana; Indian cucumberroot Hosta sieboldiana (self-seeding) (food) Panax quinquefolius; American ginseng Prenanthes trifolioliata; Gall of the earth (Food and medicine) Smilax rotundifolia; common greenbrier (Food and medicine) Acer spp.; maple Castanea spp.; chestnut Sassafras albidum; sassafras (Medicine and beverage/spice) Cacalia delphinifolia? (Far Eastern edible and medicinal) After the video is a gallery of photos taken on the same tour. Will post more from the walk and talk later. This is one of several blog posts about my visit to Joe. See more by searching here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=joe+hollis
Nettle-leaved bellflower (Campanula trachelium) has a more southwesterly distribution in Europe than my favourite giant bellflower C. latifolia and replaces the latter species in the south of England, France, Italy, Spain and North Africa and eastwards into West Asia. It has also widely naturalised in northeast North America. Like C. latifolia, it has edible sweetish tasting roots that contain the carbohydrate inulin like Jerusalem artichoke, good for diabetics, but can give flatulence. I suspect, however, that it takes several years to get to a usable size. I’ve been digging over an area of the garden into which Polygonum alpinum (Alpine knotweed) had invaded this week and there were also many self-seeded bellflowers with good sized roots, so I put them to one side to use in a delicious zucchini-bellflower curry which we ate last night!
Nettle-leaved bellflower has similar habitat requirements to the giant bellflower, inhabiting open woodlands and hedgerows and grows well in complete shade on the north side of my house amongst the Hostas. It has a preference for alkaline soils and grows well on clay. It is therefore an excellent plant for the forest garden, although given the choice I would prefer the giant bellflower as the spring leaves of trachelium are coarser and hairier and therefore less good in salads, but nevertheless fine finely chopped in mixed salads. It has been used traditionally in Italy in mixed species spring soups such as minestrella (see page 59) and is one of the ingredients in pistic (boiled and fried, see page 59 of my book Around the World in 80 plants).
There are a number of ornamental forms available in the trade which you might like to try, including a single-flowered white form (var. alba), which has naturalized in my garden. The double white (‘Alba Flore Pleno’) form and “Snowball” (https://dorsetperennials.co.uk/product/campanula-trachelium-snowball) haven’t come true from seed for me. ‘Bernice’ is another deep purple-blue flowered cultivar.
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!
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.
English: This is the course for you who want to learn more about perennial vegetables and forest gardening in a course held in and around Norway’s world-renowned Edible Garden, now one (of 4) Permaculture Land Centres in Norway, led by author and head of KVANN / Norwegian Seed Savers, Stephen Barstow. There will be lectures on Allium, an extended garden walk, making lunch and dinner with spring harvested produce, foraging on the shoreline and the ostrich fern tour along the Homla river canyon. Full program, pictures and link to pictures in the pdf at the bottom
It is also possible to extend your stay to Monday when we will work together in KVANN’s gardens at Væres Venner in Ranheim on Monday 11th May.
Course fee and registration: You must either be a member of KVANN or the Norwegian Permaculture Association. NOK 1600 (for the whole weekend) for KVANN members (membership costs NOK 250), NOK 1800 for members of the Norwegian Permaculture Association. Kr. 900 for students and unemployed. There is a binding registration when paying the course fee. VIPPS to 91529516 (private). Bank account: 82306086762. This course has been fully subscribed all the times it has been arranged in the past with a waiting list. If you sign up but are later prevented attending, there are good chances of finding someone take over your place and we will help advertising that!
Sign up to email@example.com with your name, address, email, phone and year of birth (we need this information because we are seeking support from Studieforbund Natur og Miljø)
Norsk: Dette er kurset for deg som vil lære mer om flerårige grønnsaker og skogshaging i og rundt Norges verdenskjent Spiselig Hage, nå et (av 4) Permakultur Land Sentre i Norge, ledet av forfatter og leder av KVANN, Stephen Barstow. Det blir foredrag om Allium, utvidet hagevandring og felles matlaging, sanketur i fjæra og strutsevingetur langs Homla. Fullt program, bilder og lenk til bilder fra de 3 tidligere kurs kan man laste ned nederst på denne siden.
Det er også mulighet å være med på dugnad i KVANNs hager hos Væres Venner mandag 11. mai. Kursavgift og påmelding: Man må enten være medlem av KVANN eller Norsk Permakultur Forening. Kr. 1600 (for hele helgen) for medlemmer av KVANN (medlemskap koster kr. 250), kr. 1800 for medlemmer av Norsk Permakultur Forening. Kr. 900 for studerende og arbeidsledige. Det er bindende påmelding ved betaling av kursavgifta. VIPPS til 91529516 (privat). Bankkonto: 82306086762. Dette kurset har blitt fulltegnet alle ganger tidligere med venteliste. Om man tegner seg på, men senere blir forhindret er det gode sjanser for å få noen til å ta over plassen din og det skal vi hjelpe til med!
Påmelding til firstname.lastname@example.org med ditt navn, adresse, epost, telefon og fødselsår (dette trenger vi fordi vi søker støtte fra Studieforbund Natur og Miljø).
KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) have established a guild for perennial vegetables and food forest vegetables (free for members of KVANN, go to kvann.no and click on “Bli med i KVANN” to join)
Norw: Nå er KVANNs laug for Flerårige og Skogshage Grønnsaker formelt etablert og vi har en FB gruppe som venter for dere som er interessert å være med (gratis og kun for medlemmer av KVANN). Det blir en del godbiter kun for laugmedlemmene i løpet av vinteren og et permagrønnsaks-kurs i Malvik til våren primært for medlemmene! Gå til https://www.facebook.com/groups/818621048572751 og svarer på spørsmålene for å melde deg inn!
I’ve harvested seed of a distinctive tall oriental woodlander this week, Parasenecio hastatus. It’s taller than I am and reminds me of some of the tall Lactuca species I saw in North America recently, perhaps growing in similar habitats in the Far East.
It’s a wild species in China, Japan, Korea and the Russian Far East. My most comprehensive Japanese foraging book says something like this (thanks to Chris Sonnenschein for the translation): “shoots are harvested when 20-30 cm long. Then when ready to cook, like asparagus, break/snap the shoots with your hand and discard the more woody end. Dice up the remainder into chunks. Boil in salted water. Rinse. Parboil in normal water just briefly. Eaten with Bonito flakes (fish), Soy Sauce & Mayonnaise. Also the leaves from the new shoots (this year’s growth) can be eaten, especially as tempura, through summer”.