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.

Thursday morning gardening

This week (Thursday 21st April) about four of us plan to meet at 9.30 – 11.00 and will be pruning some of the elder trees, harvesting stinging nettle tops and generally keeping things looking good. It’s not difficult gardening, it’s easy to learn and it’s a great way to learn about the virtues of herbs and get to know how to use them.

You are very welcome to join and find out what’s going on and how to get involved!

These days, it’s only really possible for me to work in the Frankendael orchards on Thursdays so I am building up a group of people who are keen to get involved and can help out on some Thursdays. I am advertising the dates on Meetup, so if you would like a notification when a date is set, sign up at https://www.meetup.com/Urban-Herbology-Meetup.

I can’t be there every Thursday but those who’ve found out how the gardening works in the orchards, are very welcome to go the as much as they like.

This week (Thursday 21st April) about four of us plan to meet at 9.30 – 11.00 and will be pruning some of the elder trees, harvesting stinging nettle tops and generally keeping things looking good. It’s not difficult gardening, it’s easy to learn and it’s a great way to learn about the virtues of herbs and get to know how to use them. You can also find out more about <a href="http://&lt;!– wp:paragraph –> <p>This week (<strong>Thursday 21st April</strong>) about four of us plan to meet at <strong>9.30 – 11.00</strong> and will be pruning some of the elder trees, harvesting stinging nettle tops and generally keeping things looking good. It's not difficult gardening, it's easy to learn and it's a great way to learn about the virtues of herbs and get to know how to use them. </p> <!– /wp:paragraph –> <!– wp:paragraph –> <p>You are very welcome to join and find out what's going on and how to get involved! </p> Herbalists Without Borders Amsterdam, as a way to help those in need to access herbalism.

You are very welcome to join and find out what’s going on and how to get involved!

Call me, Lynn, on 0627596930 if you want to speak first.

April – May in the orchards

A short summary of what the River of Herbs volunteers are doing at the moment in the Orchards behind Huize Frankendael / Restaurant Merkelbach, on Monday mornings:

The plants are growing incredibly well and spring has certainly sprung!

Daslook – Wild garlic – Allium ursinum, is being removed from the paths and from directly around some of the special herbs in the beds. Here, it was clogging up one of the Acanthus plants, so that one now has more space to grow.

And here is was clogging up the pretty Pulmonaria – Lungwort. So that also has some breathing space again.

Pulmonaria officinalis

If you come to pluck Daslook from the orchards, you can help by taking individual leaves or flower/seed spikes from close to the edge of the paths. This helps to stop the Daslook spreading seed all over the paths.

Daslook spreading into a path

We took a lot of weeded-out Daslook home today ave I made a tasty batch of Daslook & walnut pesto.

Daslook Allium ursinum pesto

Labels – We have been adding small name boards on metal spikes, at strategic points around the orchards. They show the scientific binomials, Dutch and English names of the plants. Not all of the plants are labelled as it would look too busy but you can find your way around more easily and build your local plant knowledge by reading the boards.

Esdoorn – Sycamore seedlings – These spring up all over the place at the moment and would become a Sycamore tree forest, if we didn’t take action. Whilst we are working in the gardens or visiting to forage herbs, we pull up any sycamore seedlings that we see. They are quite easy to spot at the moment. If in doubt, we leave the seedlings in place.

New plants
Allium triquetrum – Three cornered garlic – Driekantig look. This is a spreading Allium which was donated by a volunteer. We are looking forward to the taste of this plant next year. It has been added to the Mint triangle.

We also asked Chris, the head gardener of Park Frankendael for a cutting of Guelderseroos – Cramp bark – Viburnum opulus. He generously helped and we are now nurturing a cutting in the Mushroom orchard, just inside the gate, near the Wormwood plants and the hedgehog stick-pile.

A fine onion- garlic taste
Planting Allium triquetrum

Herb spiral – We are working on a rustic herb spiral, in the nettle orchard. We plan to complete this project before the summer and need to:

  • Level the ground
  • Place slabs on the base
  • Build up the soil and stones in a spiral fashion
  • Plant with interesting herbs

Moving and placing the base slabs will take some strength so if you are willing and able, let us know!

Barefoot path – It’s time for us to tidy the edges and refill this steps! If you have any pinecones hanging around, feel free to drop them off at the barefoot path, in the Geranium orchard, or at one of the orchard gates. We will use other materials to full the steps. Previously they have been filled with chamomile plants, sand and other interesting materials.

Membership – We are hugely grateful to everyone who has joined our new membership scheme. After only two days, we have seven paying members and have raised enough funds to buy a new spade and other essential tools! We are looking forward to the first members only event! For information about how to become a Member and supporter of the River of Herbs, please see this page.

Volunteers welcome – We are a friendly group of Dutch and international gardeners. We meet at the orchards, behind Resataurant Merkelbach (Middenweg 72, Amsterdam), on Monday mornings (11am is a good time to find us) and we work with permaculture principles. If you would like to join us or find out more, please come along one Monday morning or email riverofherbs@gmail.com

RoH membership

River of Herbs is about creating and maintaining green urban spaces for the benefit of people, plants and wildlife. We garden in a way that hugely minimises costs but maximises benefits for the people and other creatures who enjoy and use the spaces. RoH was established and registered in 2012 as a way to bring free food and the ability to learn about herbs to whoever needs to learn. Our main focus since 2014 has been managing the Frankendael Orchards as a nature-centred permaculture foraging garden.

River of Herbs Orchards in Spring

Why membership?
We are a very resourceful group of volunteers from all around the globe. Throughout the year, we gather weekly in Park Frankendael to manage the public space. We use our own tools, make tea and snacks from the plants we weed out. We share, borrow, and sometimes even make our own tools, but there are some costs involved in keeping the River of Herbs spaces looking so beautiful.

Funds are needed for the occasional replacement of tools and the purchase of special plants or other specific materials. An example: we have begun labelling the edible and medicinal herbs in the Orchards. In this way, visitors gain more from their visits. We have chosen a low cost and pretty stylish option but we are paying for the labels from our own pockets. Another example: we are building a beautiful herb spiral and need to transport the necessary stones across town. Such actions cost money, and as much as we do this for love and from a belief that this is the right thing to do, we have decided that it is time to ask for your help.

A place to rest – Bench crafted by a RoH volunteer, from a tree that fell next to the orchards.

Affordable Membership
To help us move onward and have a greater impact, we have decided to open up membership to the River of Herbs. We aim to generate a regular trickle of income for the group’s activities.

Annual River of Herbs Membership costs just €5 and all funds go to running the River of Herbs Orchards in Park Frankendael. And, when funds permit, other similar spaces will be established and run by the River of Herbs group.

Wormwood – New plants to learn from -Planted in 2020

Where are the River of Herbs Orchards?
If you don’t yet know the River of Herbs Orchards, they are a wildlife haven and foraging mecca for ecologically-minded city people, in Amsterdam Oost. Situated behind Huize Frankendael and Restaurant Merkelbach, near the main old entrance of the park. The orchards are open to the public 24/7 and are a part of the park. They are neatly hedged and have wooden gates so that dogs do not enter. Mentioned in articles and interviews as the secret gardens of Amsterdam East, many foragers from Amsterdam and far afield visit to harvest and learn about local plants in a quiet, friendly space.


Member Benefits

  • Exclusive Events
  • Quarterly Newsletter
  • Consultation about New Project Ideas

We will add more incentives as time goes on but from the start:
As an RoH member, you will be invited each year to sign up for exclusive events, such as an Orchard tour, to learn the secrets and tastes of the gardens.

Additionally, you will be kept informed of new developments, via a quarterly newsletter. So you will be kept up to date on what is happening in the Orchards and other River of Herbs projects. As a RoH member, you will also be consulted about potential projects for River of Herbs to get involved with.

What else can we offer you as a thank you for supporting the project financially? Please let us know what you would value, as we are new to this and really want our supporters to feel appreciated as part of the project. Please email riverofherbs@gmail.com with your ideas.

Join Us Now
To become a member of the River of Herbs, please complete this short form and transfer your payment via Bank transfer (NL67 ABNA 0469 1075 53 – LM SHORE). Membership costs €5 per year (1 year membership, starting on the date you make your payment). You are very welcome to gift more to the project if you would like to or to gift membership to a friend. Please mention this on the form, if so.

The information which you complete on the form will be connected with your payment, when it is received. We will not share it with anyone else or any other party. We will send you a “River of Herbs: Thank you and Welcome!” email when we process your payment. Please allow 7 days for this process to happen. If you don’t hear from us by then, please email riverofherbs@gmail.com or call Lynn on 0627596930.

More orchard videos

Have been removing creeping grass from the Geranium Orchard today. Nice to have a couple of visitors and enough green space so we could each forage or work in seperate orchards!
The Geranium Orchard today. Before the grass came out.
Grape hyacinth and Lungwort in flower.
Fairy Orchard – Looking for Sweet Cicely amongst the Wild garlic. Third time lucky in this clip. Sweet Cicely smells and tastes of aniseed. It also has soft delicate leaves.

Spring time

I’ve been spending a lot more time than usual in the River of Herbs Orchards – have been squeezing in some weeding and fresh air time between online teaching for my school. The regular RoH team have been doing beautiful things there as you’ll see. The woodchip paths were refreshed over the past couple of weeks and the nettle orchard has a new path and the beginnings of a herb spiral.

Here are a few photos and  video clips to share the green urban vibe.

New path and the beginnings of a herb spiral in the Nettle Orchard