Nothing signals the start of the new gardening season in Norway more than the Hagemessen, Norway’s largest garden show that takes place at the end of April each year. It is one big celebration of all things gardening in Norway.
This year, after a long snowy winter, you certainly got a sense that everyone was keen to waste no time in embracing the spring season. The show seemed busier than ever with 20 000 visitors over three days. Across 250 stalls there was everything from tools and accessories, greenhouses, outdoor furniture to plants and bulbs.
There was also a lively programme of speakers and workshops covering topics such as bokashi composting, balcony gardening and kitchen gardens. I attended the very informative talk by Honorata Kaja Gajda from the Norsk Botanisk Forening. She outlined some ornamental plants that had been introduced commercially in the past that are now on a blacklist/ ‘svartelist’ in Norway. This is because over time they have been shown to be a high risk to the natural diversity of the landscape.
She highlighted some interesting plants that could be used as alternatives, including some lesser-known wild varieties. Below, are some of the examples with their Norwegian names included:
Blacklisted — Suggested alternative
Rynkerose (Rosa rugosa) — Rosa Mollis/Rosa rubiginosa/Rosa majalis
Lupinus — Kattehale (Lythrum salicaria)
Gravbergknapp (Phedimus spurius) — Bitterbergknapp (Sedum Acre)/ Hvitbergknapp (Sedum album)
Filtarve (Cerastium tomentosum) — Krypvier (Salix repens)
Kanadagullris (Solidago canadensis) — Gulfrøstjerne (Lysimachia vulgaris)
Høstberberis (Berberis thunbergii) — Tysbast (Daphne mezereum)
Spiraea — Korsved (Viburnum opulus)
Kjempebjørnekjeks (Heracleum mantegazzianum) — Kvann (Angelica archangelica)
Kjempespringfrø (Impatiens glandulifera) — Engtjæreblom (Viscaria vulgaris)
Mispler (Cotoneaster) — Slåpetorn (Prunus spinosa)
What this reminds me, if nothing else, is that there is a value in looking beyond the obvious and to seek out less common varieties. I will fully admit I love the freedom of using a wide diversity of plants in planting schemes, to be fully expressive in colour and texture. However, all too often we don’t see the thing that stares us in the face, the plant that helps give that place it’s unique sense of place. And, with a bit of creativity, that can lend a planting scheme meaning and real connection to the environment beyond the garden boundary.
All in all, it was very encouraging to see a lot of enthusiastic people turn up to this event. I think it, alongside prime time T.V shows that are starting to emerge, is helping to raise awareness of gardening and of growing food. Gardening is continuing to grow in Norway and that’s really positive.