April – May Orchard Tasks

This morning five of us spent a couple of beautiful hours in the Geranium and Nettle orchards sprucing them up. The plant growth is so rapid at this time of year; A mile a minute, it seems! So much to see, smell, taste and do.

I’ll be there again next Thursday morning, 9.30 – 11.00 with tools, gloves and some herb tea. No experience needed – Come join me if you would like to! Call or WhatsApp me (Lynn Shore) on 0627596930 if needed.

For those of you who enjoy gardening and foraging at the River of Herbs Orchards on your own, you are always welcome. Here are the important tasks for the next few weeks:

  1. Path clearing of weeds – and if the weeds from the paths are edible or medicinal, feel free to take them home. Otherwise into the large willow woven compost bin (in the shady mushroom orchard).
  2. Edge trimming of stinging nettles – nipping them down enough, so people walking the orchard paths don’t sting that legs.
  3. Tree seedling removal – from where they can be reached without trampling the other plants and underground animal nests.
  4. Removal of wild garlic flower and seedhead spikes, from adjacent to the paths. To reduce the amount of seedlings in the paths resulting from falling mature seeds.
Seedlings growing in the paths

Please avoid piling wood in any of the plant borders. Today we found a neat but heavy pile of wood freshly ontop the main Sweet Cicely plant in the nettle orchard, near the circle and comfrey. Surely placed there with good intent but the wood from the storm needs to be outside of the orchards. Also please avoid stepping into the borders. Loads of wildlife lives in and on the soil. Stepping on it also upsets the amazing soil structure. We try only step in there when essential. Thanks for your understanding and support.

NL Doet – Herb Spiral

On Friday 28th May, River of Herbs Orchards will be participating in NL Doet 2021. We advertised for 6 volunteers to join us to help with putting new plants in the four orchards, all to help provide for wildlife and people. The session will be from 17:00 – 18:30 and we have attracted all 6 volunteers that we requested, so the event is now full. We were also successful in attracting some Oranje Fonds funding for the event. This will really help to add some diversity to the nettle orchard and to help us attract more volunteers. The main intention of the evening is to create a herb spiral in the nettle orchard.

On Friday evening we will be doing the following:
1. Driving in a durable root barrier around the edge of the spiral. This is to prevent runners from an invasive raspberry to get into the eventual spiral.
2. Fill the base of the circle with gravel.
3. Layer reclaimed stone / tiles and soil inside the circle, to create a raised spiral effect.
4. Fill the available spaces with organic herb plants.

The idea of a herb spiral is to provide a varied ecological niches which will allow us to grow plants, not usually able to thrive in the orchards.
Here is a list of the plants that we are going to try to include in the project:

Agrimony
Alliums
Basil
Betony
Borage
Bronze fennel
Calamint
Calendula
Chamomile
Chervil
Chicory
Cowslip
Greater celandine
Juniper
Lady’s mantle
Licorice grass
Marjoram
Mint varieties
Oregano
Orpine
Pimpernels
Primula
Rosemary
Rue
Scrophularia
Shiso
Valerian
Violets
Wood avens
Yarrow

Some of these prefer to grow in sunnier environments than we can usually provide. Some prefer more shady or sheltered situations. This is the purpose of the spiral. Here are a few images of herb spirals, either completed or in construction and found on the internet, to give you an idea of what the group is trying to achieve, together..

Please let us know if you have a wish list of herbs to add to the spiral, or the Orchards as a whole. We want for all of the regular volunteers and supporters of the project to be able to see at least a couple of herbs in the spiral, which make them feel wonderful!

We are also going to be making a lovely bug hotel soon, from natural materials. If you are interested to get involved in that or any of the other activities at the orchards, please say.

Help is always welcome and no experience is needed. Everyone is welcome to get involved.
Email: riverofherbs@gmail.com


Happy Birthday Park Frankendael!

It was very exciting to be part of the beautiful celebration for Park Frankendael’s Jubilee. The park has been in existence for 30 years and in spite of COVID-19, there was a lovely socially distanced celebration, organised by the Friends of Frankendael. To mark this occasion a special jubilee magazine was created by the Friends and Lynn was interviewed about the River of Herbs Orchards. The River of Herbs project is featured in the lead Edible Park article, of the magazine along with the top restaurants and school gardens which we share the park with. The article is in Dutch, naturally, and features Lynn’s recipe for magic gin, using the flowers of the invasive week Himalayan Balsam. Let us know if you try it!

The magazine is well worth a read and can be purchased locally or directly from the Friends of Frankendael association (Vreinden van Frankendael).


Zen hedge trimming

Tomorrow morning in the Park Frankendael Orchards from about 9.30am, we’ll be continuing hand-pruning the massive hedges that wrap around the herb gardens. It seems to be off the Donkergroen work list and off the gemente/council list but they desperately need cutting.. and we don’t want them hacked into oblivion so last week we began plodding around them and will do this week by week, pruning the lot by hand.

Fancy helping for half an hour or so? Then join us in the morning, please bring along a pair of secateurs and a zen mentality 🙂 It’s certainly not a difficult job but it’s a big job!
It’s behind Huize Frankendael (restaurant Merkelbach). Call Lynn on 0627596930 if you’re not sure. But she’ll be communing with the hedges through the morning so won’t be checking messages much.

Join the team!

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We are urgently looking for volunteers to join the River of Herbs orchards team – would you like to join us?

Because our numbers have dropped recently due to changes in volunteer work days, we now have a tiny team and we need to expand!

Could you spare a couple of hours a week to help with light gardening with this friendly group?

We work organically, along Permaculture principles and in harmony with the local ecology and landuse partners

The orchards house old fruit trees and were set up as ethical foraging gardens in 2014 by Lynn and a fabulous team of enthusiastic nature lovers.

The four orchards are full of beautiful edible herbs, mushrooms, fruit trees and bushes and countless wildlife.

We like to experiment with interesting plants, share food from our foraged harvest and generally have a good time together.

Regular gardening restarts on

Monday 4th March,

10.00am.

If you need more information please email

Spring Planning Meeting

The days are getting longer. Before we know it, the world will be covered in a verdant carpet, spring flowers and buzzing friends will be everywhere!

It’s time to meet up and plan. To consider what we want to accomplish in the orchards and city this coming season.

On Sunday 10th February, we plan to meet at the Gardening Library in Transvaalbuurt. Time of gathering to be confirmed. 12.00 – 13.30

I’d love to see you there, if you want to get involved in any way with the River of Herbs project.

Seedbombs

Today we had mucky fun making seedbombs under the old cherry tree in the Park Frankendael orchards. We used our hands to mix gracefully aging seeds (collected, purchased and gifted over recent years) with terracotta clay powder, soil and just enough water. When the consistency felt right, we squeezed the mixture into small balls, just the right size to fit into egg cartons. When we ran out of egg cartons, we wrapped the rest of the seedbombs in newspaper strips.

These beautiful balls of latent life and colour are now drying out on my roof terrace. Once they have dried sufficiently, we will store them in our homes and then carry a few around, ready to launch into needy spaces at opportune moments. The intention is to launch them all by the end of October, spreading thousands of herb and flower seeds around the city, in pleasing spheres of goodness.

If you would like to make seeds bombs with us, feel free to come along to the orchards next Wednesday morning at about 11am. (Call me on 0627596930, if you want to join as the plan has changed, sorry for the late notice). If possible, bring along an empty egg carton and leave your best clothes at home.

If you know somewhere that could use some seed bomb enrichment, do let us know in the comments below. We will try to walk by and launch some love and seeds onto the location.

NL doet Compost heap building!

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I have organised another NL doet event this year, because the orchards needs a smart new compost heap and we need some help to make this happen.  Would you like to help?

10.00 – 11.30

Saturday 8th March 2018

River of Herbs orchards, behind Huise Frankendael, Park Frankendael.

We don’t add any food waste to our compost heap, simply green waste from cutting back the perennial herbs which grow in the orchards. Most often, our green waste is laid as a mulch beneath the growing plants but sometimes there is just too much to handle so we need a place to keep it tidy. Over time, the collected green waste rots down and makes great quality organic compost which we then use to enrich areas of the orchards soil.

A few years ago, the green team at Elsevier joined us for a morning and helped us to willow weave Continue reading “NL doet Compost heap building!”

Benefits of urban herb gardens

Whilst studying for her MSc in Spacial Planning at Wageningen University, Ioana-Cristina Musat became the first university intern at River of Herbs in Amsterdam.  It was an absolute pleasure to work with Ioana and the Spacial planning department at Wageningen.  As well as her full report, Ioana kindly created the following summary which outlines the main ideas and concepts resulting from her research. We hope that you find it inspiring and useful – we certainly have!

River of Herbs always welcomes enquiries from well motivated students who have ideas for internships or other forms of collaboration. Please contact Lynn at riverofherbs@gmail.com with ideas.  Continue reading “Benefits of urban herb gardens”

Stijlish Sunday gardening

Photo credit: Mahaut Vidal

​3pm til 5 pm this Sunday (25th November) – Celebrating the old Stijl Tuin behind Huize Frankendael. 

The day after, gardening contractors will dig up what’s left and begin to restructure the garden. Edward Clydesdale Thomson, artist in residence is organising gluwijn, hand tools, plant care advice and a good send off for the plants. The Yew trees will be moved to the local cemetery de Nieuwe Ooster Begraafplaats  (which is also a national arboretum) so we won’t be touching them but everything else can go. That’s the mature Box hedging (buxus), Catnip, Day lilies, Japanese anenomes, Acanthus, spring bulbs, Artemisias and more and more and more. 

The following day, restructuring of the garden will begin. The Stijltuin behind Huize Frankendael is an officially listed historic garden and whilst keeping the original design intact, new plants are to be added. 

Join us on Sunday afternoon if you can!