Still on parole


Achillea ageratum – English mace
Herbaceous perennial. Herb. Not sure I like it. Grows well, though.

Allium angulosum – mouse garlic
Bulb, leaves, flowers. New in 2013. Died. Grown again from seed in 2020 and growing well.

Allium chinense – rakkyo
Bulb. Hanging in there but not producing well. Think it prefers a warmer climate.

Apios americana – groundnut
Climber. First planted 2011/12. Grows successfully if started inside but low yielding. A more northern provenance might do better.

Aronia melanocarpa – chokeberry
Shrub. Planted varieties ‘Nero’ and ‘Viking’ 2011/12. Grow and fruit well but fruit very attractive to birds and difficult to protect.

Berberis koreana – Korean barberry
Shrub. New in 2013. Grows well but hard to harvest.

Camassia leichtlinii – wild hyacinth
Bulb. Grew from seed in 2013. Pretty and produces a modest harvest of bulbs, but they are very full of inulin and need to be slow cooked for days to become nutritious food.

Camassia quamash – camas
Bulb. New in 2012. Grown well. Nice baked.

Campanula rapunculoides – creeping bellflower
Herbaceous perennial. Have tried from both seeds and plants but always dies out. Strange as it has a reputation for being invasive.

Caragana arborescens – Siberian pea tree 
Planted 2011/12 and growing well, if slowly. Flowers every year but no seed so far.

Cornus canadensis – creeping dogwood, bunchberry
Creeping perennial. Planted 2012 and 2013 from different sources. Seems to have died out, may need a more northern provenance. Grows in RBGE. Grown again from seed 2016 and has established. Flowers but no fruit so far.

Cornus kousa chinensis – handkerchief tree
Small tree. Planted 2011/12 in Manor Park, Aberdeen. Thriving but not fruiting.

Cornus mas – Cornelian cherry
Shrub / small tree. Planted 2011/12 in Manor Park, Aberdeen. Thriving but not fruiting.

Crambe maritima – sea kale
Herb per. Grew in 1990s and did well. Died out in the forest garden. Trying to find space for a new one!

Crambe tatarica – Tartar bread plant
Herb per. Grown from seed 2011. Died during winter 2012/13.

Decaisnea fargesii – blue sausage fruit
Tree. Raised from seed 2009/10. Thrives nearby. Fruit nice but fiddly, a bit of a novelty item.

Eryngeum maritimum – sea holly
Herb per. Grows well, said to be a spice like galangal. Not tried it yet.

Hippophae rhamnoides – sea buckthorn
Shrub. New in 2012/13. Growing vigorously.

Lathyrus linifolius montanus – bitter vetch / cairmeal
Herb per. New from seed in 2013. Grown ever since but no usable tubers.

Lonicera caerulea edulisedible honeysuckle, honeyberry
This shrub thrives but rarely produces much fruit: others in the area have found the same. Plants need another variety or two to act as a pollinator and often flower while few pollinating insects are around.

Mertensia maritima – oyster plant
Herb per. I cannot grow this without major slug protection.

Myrica pennsylvanica – northern baybery
Shrub. New in 2012/13. Grew well but kids jumped on it.

Nasturtium officinale – watercress
Perennial. Hard to grow without running water.

Pinus cembra – nut pine
Tree. Planted 2011/12 on estate. Lost to Council maintenance.

Streptopus lanceolatus – scootberry
Shoots, fruit. Herb per. New from seed in 2013. Growing but very slowly. No fruit yet.

Viburnum trilobum ‘Phillips’ – highbush cranberry
Shrub. Planted 2011/12. Fruit unimpressive.

Viola odorata – sweet violet
Low perennial. Tends to die out over winter.


0 thoughts on “Still on parole

  1. Jemima

    I’m interested in the solomon’s seal, I have some currently shooting up in a shady place in the garden
    However I’m a bit reluctant to try eating it because I read on the internet that they can cause unpleasant effects ‘cathartic’ was the expression used!
    So, does anyone reading this have any experience of eating this plant?

    1. Alan Carter Post author

      Hi Jemima. I’ve now tried Solomon’s seal and first the good news: no cathartic experiences! The bad news is that I didn’t like it much. I found it had a bitter taste which suggested alkaloids, possibly explaining some of those unpleasant effects if they were eaten in bulk. The leaves (or rather the part of the stem with the rolled-up leaves) was the worst, but even with that removed I could still taste it. I do have particularly sensitive taste buds when it comes to bitterness, so perhaps it wouldn’t bother some people. Some recipes suggest changing the cooking water once or more, but I’m not willing to go to such lengths. Possibly there are better varieties around than the one I tried.

      1. martinsherring

        We tried young shoots a couple of years ago, cooked like asparagus, and they were delicious – quite sweet. But they seem to take a long time to get to the size where I’m confident to cut shoots without killing the plant.

        1. Alan Carter Post author

          Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like I just need to keep looking for the right variety. Would you be willing to swap some of yours for something from my garden?

          1. martinsherring

            We were given a few shoots to try, they didn’t come from our plants – and I’m not sure ours are strong enough to be split… I might try a charm offensive on the friend who gave us the shoots, failing that I’ll have another look at ours next year and see if they’re looking a bit stronger.

  2. Gustaf Rydevik

    You write that your Cornus mas is thriving but not fruiting. Is it flowering?
    I’ve read that it may need a neighbor nearby for pollination, and was thinking of it as an edible hedge here in Edinburgh. But if it doesn’t fruit, that’s less edible, and more hedge!

    1. Alan Carter Post author

      I’ve now lost the site where I had my C. mas, but I had two plants there, plus there was another one in the adjacent park. They flowered and started to produce fruit, but never ripened them. I’ve also never seen ripe fruit up here on garden specimens, which are moderately common. Edinburgh is not as northerly as Aberdeen so there is perhaps more chance, but I wouldn’t rate it very highly.

  3. martinsherring

    We have two on the Black Isle. They’ve been a bit sickly here, and we’ve only had fewer than a handful of fruit, but this year one of the two seems to have finally got into its stride and has quite a lot of fruit.

  4. Gustaf Rydevik

    Thanks for the info Martin! That gives me hope that my plans aren’t completely daft. There’s a couple of large trees in the RBGE, so I’ll have a look at their fruiting status come autumn before committing to planting.


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