Here’s my latest rooftop planting creation: A simple tower of three plastic plant pots, packed with plenty of molehill soil and organic compost.
The plants used are babies from those we grow already on the roof, except the tiny Wormwood, which I found growing in between street pavers. I planted a mixture of Strawberries, Wormwood, Lady’s Mantle, Strawberry scented Mint, Sedum reflexum and Yarrow. All of these plants are edible and most have medicinal properties as you will see from the links.
This is a simple way to plant vertically, creating herb habitats offering areas of relative shade and wind shelter, little space for weed seeds to settle and it is easy to tend – all very handy on a small plot.
I’ll see how these plants fair and will no doubt add or substitute others as time goes on. It’s my equivalent of a premaculture herb spiral, something I covet but just don’t have space for at home.
Here’s the beautiful (and enormous) Strawberry tower at Jeugdland in Amsterdam Oost. I wrote about it last year. Now that would make a fabulous herb tower!
I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for a day less than a year, today. Hard to look at any plants without thinking of how to use them. I think that there are worse things to get hooked on though!
Today, Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), small leaves at the moment but plenty of it around.
Also Geranium species are getting stronger everywhere. They are evergreen in this climate but the energy is definitely stirring in them at the moment – meaning they taste better and have more potency.
Also, new beautiful and incredibly useful Plantain (Plantago major) plants everywhere, if you look carefully.
And lastly today Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis agg). Bitter, tasty, medicinal, everywhere, free!
We had a lovely walk to Jeugdland in Oost Amsterdam today and founds lots of wonderful herbs along the way and at the playground.
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) NL: Bijvoet.
This is the first I have found this year and as it’s a regular part of my diet I am delighted that I’ll be able to eat it fresh (rather than dried our in vinegar) from now until the autumn. This plant is a little too small to harvest from but it won’t be long until the leaves are well established. This one was especially easy to identify because some of lasts years dried stems and give away foliage were still attached to the plant.
Elder (Sambucus nigra) NL: Vlier. Here it us growing out from beneath a bridge.
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfare) in flower.
And Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) NL: Douzendblad. Thousands of succulent, medicinal and edible (for some, in moderation) leaves, along Valentijnkade. I suspect they are enjoying the warmth of the brick walk beside the old Jewish cemetery. These are the biggest and best looking I’ve seen since last year.
I harvested a nice handful of flowering Hairy Bittercress today, from a fairly high plant put on a neighbouring street. It smells great and as ever reminds me of growing cress on cotton well as a child. I look forward to adding it to the apprentices pumpkin soup tomorrow morning before the meeting.
Tomorrow well take a look at this plant – Yarrow. Very useful and quite tasty in moderation.
I took my daughter for a beautiful walk in the park this morning. The sun was perfect, the ground was hard and crunchy from the first proper frost of this winter. The Beech leaves still cling on to the trees and bushes but are brittle and crackle in the wind. Out us good to see that the plants which should be gone by now are now under proper pressure – finally Comfrey melts into the ground and we can see what should be around.
The Willows of Park Frankendael have been coppiced and the withies laid down to full gaps near the lake. I took home a bunch of them and made them into a drying rack for herbs, our vegetables. It reminded me of weaving my garden fence in Somerset years ago and it felt good.
The largest female Ginkgo tree, outside of one of the British School of Amsterdam locations, is still doing useful fruit on the pavement. So if you fancy a Gingko nut forage there may still be time for you to gather a bagful. Please see my post about safe harvesting and preparation of this urban gift.
Also today, in the Frankendael area of Amsterdam, I found Fat Hen, Chickweed, Dock seed heads and lots of Yarrow. Unfortunately when I had a chance to photograph any, there was too much wind so this is all I managed… A beautiful, feathery Yarrow, spreading throughout a lawn area. Full of herbal usefulness.
A few more useful street herbs which I found this afternoon in the Watergraafsmeer…
Yarrow, still flowering beautifully in areas where grass mowers can’t reach them.
Here’s a mish-mash of edibles and medicinals growing against an apartment block. Wild Rocket in flower, Dandelion, Yarrow and more. There seem to be hundreds of lush Dandelion plants alongside the Middenweg at the moment. Far to close to the road to be very healthy but useful for relocating perhaps.
Today is the second birthday of this website. I’m pleased it has survived and that a few people have been encouraged to nibble on a nourishing city weed or two after reading an entry. That was the original intention of setting up Urban Herbology.
Today I found a lovely unstrimmed patch of herbs, at the foot of a lamp post on Hugo de Vrieslaan. It is home to Stinging nettle, Yarrow (shown Achillea millifolium here), Ground elder and more. Quite a useful little patch of untamed plants!
Just a quickie today;
Calendula seed heads ripening on treepit plants. These plants will go on flowering into the winter. They grow very easily from seed so why not collect some and spread them around? The flowers and leaves taste aromatic and better, they have a multitude of uses in food and peoples medicine.
Here’s Yarrow, a scarlet flowering variety but just as useful as the white native variety. This evergreen herb is still flowering in town and still surviving the strimmers! One of it’s country names is nose bleed, it has many uses including regulating blood flow.
Today in Park Frankendael, Elecampane in seed.
Elderberries in various degrees of ripeness, this half eaten bunch is ripe for picking.
St John’s / St Joan’s wort, still in flower.
Yarrow, with super-fine feathery leaves and white flowers.
Himalayan balsam, with silky flowers bouncing around in the wind.
So many useful plants! If you are not sure of how they can be used, for medicine and or food, use the search bar on this site.
Firstly today is Yarrow, NL: Duizendblad (Achillea millefolium) growing in a protected and well fertilized spot, next to a lamppost on Hugo de Vrieslaan. I use it mainly as a wound herb, I rub the juices gently on lightly wounded skin as an antisptic and to stem bleeding and as a fast remedy to nosebleeds. There are a great many uses for this herb. It is definitely one that far more people should know about and learn how to use. My daughter loves to nibble on this plant, perhaps because she can easily recognize it and pick the leaves from my roof pots but it shouldn’t really be ingested by under 5 year olds due to the strength of its blood regulating action. This plant grows all over the place, very easily and there are coloured flowered varieties which also have the same medicinal effects. I have a red flowered one on the roof. It makes an interesting addition to salads, just a leaf or two chopped up a little is all that’s needed. Be aware that it will bring on bleeding so not for pregnant women. Having said that it also helps to normalize mentrual cycles in some women. A very useful herb.
Above is the uniquely “fragranced” Field Woundwort (Stachys arvensis). Another wound herb, not as potent as Yarrow and not bitter tasting but very aromatic. Its a member of the Labiates and tastes a little of mint, but its quite different aswell. Good as a tea now and then, also a herb with many historic uses. See day 52 for some more information and links about this prolific urban waterside herb – why it’s called field woundwort, I’m not sure, I always find it beside water.
Above is Rosebay Willowherb (Epilibium angustifolium). Edible and medicinal (some use it for treating puss filled boils) not one I’ve really used, just eaten the odd flower and young shoot. Apparently it’s popular in several countries as a spring vegetable. Patrick Whitefield taught me about it some years ago, on a permaculture course. It often grows profusely on wasteland. I remember a lot of it growing on freshly cleared building plots, near my home as a child. It is a pioneer species, giving it the common name in North America of Fireweed.