On the 12th June, I gave my first webinar at a mainstream gardening conference in the US, the Southeastern Plant Symposium, hosted by the JC Raulston Arboretum and Juniper Level Botanic Garden in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had thought that the invitation was on the back of a successful talk I gave at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in September 2019. However, it turned out not to be the case and one of the organizers horticulturist and owner of Plant Delights Nursery, Tony Avent, had read my book, enjoyed it and had suggested to the committee to invite me!
I was sandwiched between some great ornamental gardeners and plant breeders including Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter in the UK. I particularly enjoyed Aaron Floden’s talk (from the Missouri Botanical Garden) on unexploited native plants (in an ornamental context) and plant breeder Peter Zale’s talk on Hosta breeding (the market for Hostas in the US is enormous….time for a small segment dedicated to Hostas for food!). Edimental gardeners can, as I have over the years, get a lot of inspiration from ornamental gardeners.
The feedback after the event was very positive. One of the participants, Marty Finkel, wrote an article about the talk which has just been published on page 10 of the Granville Gardeners Gazette (available for all to read!)
see http://www.thegranvillegardeners.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Gazette-2021-07.pdf (after an article about human composting!)
Years ago, I was at a work meeting in San Francisco with my colleague Harald Krogstad who sadly died in 2020. It’s very easy to put a date on this as we flew back on the day of the September 11 attacks, almost 20 years ago. After the meeting we hired a car and drove up to the Sierra Nevada and walked for a couple of days in the Tuolumne Meadows area. I remember finding a patch of a large Allium that I later found out had to be the tall swamp onion or Pacific onion (Allium validum). A few seeds from those plants later germinated in Malvik and this became one of the 80 plants in my book Around the World in 80 plants. A few years ago I renovated my pond area and associated damp area where I was growing this onion which grows in large clumps in damp meadows at elevations of 1200-3350 m in the Sierra Nevada. It was finally possible to harvest again this year and yesterday I used it in scrambled eggs. The flowers umbels are unusually small for such a large Allium and for that reason has never become popular as an ornamental. See an earlier blog post with pictures that didn’t make it into the book here: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=5994
At the Væres Venner community garden on the outskirts of Trondheim at Ranheim in an area we hope will remain a green belt, I have been working to create what we call Verdenshagen (The World Garden) in collaboration with KVANN (Norwegian Seed Savers) and Schübelers nettverk. This is a network of gardens throughout Norway which is being launched in June 2021 in honour of Fredrik Christian Schübeler (1815-1892) was a botanist and professor at the University in Christiania (now Oslo) and director of the Botanical Gardens for nearly 30 years from 1863. He established a network of gardens throughout Norway, often in collaboration with prestegård (rectory gardens) to test out new plants of economical importance (both ornamentals and edibles). Our new network is also planned centred around rectory gardens and other gardens to demonstrate and inspire to grow new plants but also to conserve old varieties of food plants and ornamentals. See more at https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=no&u=https://kvann.no/schubeler
The World Garden is basically a 12 m diameter circle where the centre represents the North Pole and houses a garden of Arctic food plants. Largely perennial vegetables are being planted geographically around the circle, currently some 80 plants, many of which can be read about inspired by my own book Around the World in 80 plants (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?page_id=30). The garden is surrounded by over 100 old and new fruit, berry and nut trees and another demonstration garden for annual crops.
The intention is to add pictures to the album below throughout the year from the World Garden. Our focus is also in creating and improving the habitat at Være for other wildlife, so there will also be pictures of insects, birds and other creatures.
Presenting some of this week’s perennial greens and, in the case of the blanched Hosta shoots, perennial whites!
Hosta sieboldiana with ramsons / ramsløk (Allium ursinum) and giant bellflower / storklokke (Campanula latifolia)
This bucket was planted in the autumn and stored until now in the cellar. Within a few days of bringing it up into my living room there are usable shoots. Garlic bulbil shoots are seen behind.
Nowadays, I LOVE the taste of dandelion although in my youth I found it so bitter that I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to eat it. I think the reason is a combination of giving up eating sugar and getting accustomed to eating bitter plants. In addition, nobody ate a dandelion salad alone. The following box from my book describes various methods og de-bitterizing dandelions if you want to benefit from one of the most nutritious and valuable plants on the planet but find the taste too bitter:
In 2017, I was able to grow Sonchus kirkii, the original perennial sow thistle (puha or rauriki), an important traditional vegetable of the Maori which I’d long wanted to try. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to overwinter it. It grows in coastal New Zealand and isn’t adapted to freezing winter temperatures and no doubt stays green all winter. I had been hoping to overwinter it and try the spring shoots, but I didn’t get the opportunity then. I relocated the original seed packet this spring, and the seed was still viable and the plants started flowering now in October and with unusually mild weather so far this winter with no serious frosts, I finally got round to trying some of the top growth in the tradional way to eat Sonchus oleraceus in Mediterranean countries, fried with garlic and chili in olive oil and added to scrambled eggs. The raw leaf was surprisingly mild, much milder than perennial Sonchus arvensis, which I’ve experienced as unpleasantly bitter in the past (young shoots in spring).
There is an account in my book Around the World in 80 plants of this species and annual super(healthy)weed Sonchus oleraceus which replaced it in Maori kitchens! Variously known as puha, shore puha or New Zealand sow thistle (syn. Sonchus asper var. littoralis), its habitat is described by the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network as http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=205: “Coastal. Usually on cliff faces in or around damp seepages where it often grows with the blue green alga Nostoc and fern Blechnum blechnoides. This species has a distinct preference for base rich rocks such as basalt, calcareous mudstones, siltstones, limestone or apatite-rich greywacke faces. On some offshore islands this species extends up into coastal scrub and herbfield. It occasionally grows on stabilised sand dunes. Indications are that this species once occupied a wider range of habitats but has retreated to those less suited to other faster growing introduced weeds.”
NZPCN states that it is “Easily distinguished from all the other naturalised Sonchus species by the very large, glaucous, non-spinose leaves” (this includes Sonchus arvensis – perennial sow thistle and annuals Sonchus asper and Sonchus oleraceus). The first picture shows a comparison of the autumn leaves of the two growing in my garden:
AROUND THE WORLD IN THE EDIBLE GARDEN; Part 1 – The Cherokee lands of Eastern North America
The first in a series of dinners from Malvik’s Edible Garden where we “forage” from different parts of the world!
Cherokee Pizza is of course better known as Cherokizza…go on, look it up :). This is the classic Native American Italian dish and it was made in Norway today! All you need is a good selection of Cherokee wild vegetables:
Appalachian greens / kyss-meg-over-gjerde (Rudbeckia laciniata); see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=22018
Nodding onion / prærieløk (Allium cernuum)
Stinging nettle / brennesle (Urtica dioica)
Virginia waterleaf / Indian salad (Hydrophyllum virginianum)
Dandelion / løvetann (Taraxacum spp.) (a giant individual, as you will see from the pictures, growing on seaweed on the sea kale bed)
Cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum)
I used a thick 100% whole grain rye sourdough base for the pizza, so a bit of Denmark in there too!
No doubt introduced by the previous owners here as an ornamental and despite the fact I spent a lot of time trying to eradicate it from parts of the garden, Campanula latifolia (giant bellflower / storklokke) is nowadays one of my most important springtime vegetables used both cooked and raw. It has naturalised under Hazel in part of the garden! Always nice to see how plants find their own way to the best spots it grows happily alongside Aegopodium podograria (ground elder / skvallerkål). See the excerpt from my book Around the World in 80 plants below. Here is the excerpt from Around the World in 80 plants (I’m happy to send signed copies within Norway). “When I first moved to my present garden, there was one weed that I struggled to eradicate from my cultivated beds, Campanula latifolia or giant bellflower. The roots in particular were almost impossible to dig out, having a knack of germinating in the most difficult places. Then, one day I was reading the Norwegian book “Gratis Mat av Ville Planter (Free Food from Wild Plants; Holmboe, 1941). I learnt that my worst weed had been wild gathered for food by farmers in my area in the 17th century, a tradition which probably died out soon afterwards. The leaves and stems were collected in springtime and made into a soup. Similar stories have also survived from other parts of Norway and Sweden. Storklokke (literally large bell) is considered to be one of the most commonly used wild food plants in the past in Norway. Both the leaves and roots were used, the latter also ground and added to bread.”
It was the nephew of Bishop Gunnerus (after whom the genus Gunnera was named) who published this in Norway’s first flora published 3 years after the Bishop’s death! It was stated that “storklokke” deserves to be considered as one of the best springtime greens! I totally agree! Thanks to the previous owners (Johansen) for planting it for me!
It’s not too late to be included in my gallery of #ATWselfies either!
Please send me your picture and you’ll be added! You will be showing support of a very good cause: the conservation of the amazing diversity of food plants and their related traditions Around the World. See the album of #ATW Selfies below and also on FB here: https://www.facebook.com/stephen.barstow.7/media_set?set=a.10157331181205860 and previously on this blog at http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=466
And it’s always nice when your peers say nice things about your creation….here Joe Hollis of Mountain Gardens :) (I was sitting there though!)
Isaac John Koblentz (see his #ATWselfie) was one of 3 guys who travelled all the way from northern Ohio for the joint walk and talk I did with Joe Hollis at Mountain Gardens (North Carolina) in fall 2019! Here they tell a little bit about each other! Thanks so much for coming!