Z as in Zinnia

Z as in Zinnia. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Zinnia

Species: Zinnia elegans

Common names: common zinnia, youth-and-old-age Swedish name: zinnia

Zinnia is a genus of annuals, shrubs, and sub-shrubs native to scrub and dry grassland primarily in North America, with a few species in South America. Members of the genus are notable for their solitary long-stemmed flowers but some have a lax habit with spreading stems that mound over the surface of the ground. The flowers come in a variety of bright colors and a wide range of appearances, from a single row of petals, to a dome shape. Zinnias seem to be a favorite of butterflies, and other pollinators like hummingbirds. Making them valuable as wildlife plants in the garden. Zinnias are a desirable companion plant, benefiting plants that are grown with it. A number of species of zinnia are popular flowering plants, cultivars and hybrids are common. Their varied habits allow for uses in several parts of a garden.

Zinnia elegans is an annual flowering plant grown in the summer. It is one of the most familiar zinnias. They are popular garden flowers for many reasons. Wild Zinnia elegans is a desert plant found in Mexico. Garden varieties may escape and naturalize.

Zinnia flower. Z as in Zinnia. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook


Description: Zinnia elegans has hundreds of cultivars in many flower colors, sizes and forms. Flower colors range from white and cream to pinks, reds, and purples, to green, yellow, apricot, orange, salmon, and bronze. Some are striped, speckled or bicolored. There are single, semi-double, and double forms and even pom-pom forms resembling dahlias. Sizes range from dwarf to about 1 meter tall. The smaller varieties can be grown in containers.

How to grow: Zinnia elegans is grown in fertile, humus-rich, and well-drained soil, in full sun with good air circulation. They grow best in dry, warm, frost-free regions, and are drought-tolerant. Deadhead spent blossoms to continue flowering. They will set seed each year so make sure you collect some. Propagation by seed.

Wrap-up of the A to Z bouquet

April has passed by and the final post is now written and hopefully read. I have made a category for all my posts published during this month, called A to Z challenge. There you will find all the plants from the Amaranthus to the Zinnia. If you search for a recipe or a craft just search for the category in the sidebar. I hope you will stop by and pay a visit even though the challenge of 2015 is finished.

Thank you! A to Z Challenge

I want to thank the participants of the challenge for sharing your posts. I have found a diversity of blogs and bloggers from all around the world. Which have been enriching and joyful. I have a lot of catch up to do since it was impossible to read every post and visit every blog during this month.

Thanks to the hosts and team behind the challenge for your response and a well administrated challenge. I had so much fun.

I am also thankful for every visit, like and comment. My gratitude is beyond words.

Participant 613 – over and out!


Challenge completed…

Y as in Yucca

Y as in Yucca. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Asparagaceae

Genus: Yucca

Species: Yucca filamentosa

Common names: spoonleaf yucca, filament yucca, Adam’s needle Swedish name: fiberpalmlilja

Yucca is a genus of 40-50 species of perennial shrubs and trees native to the hot and dry (arid) parts of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. They grow in rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and produce large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. Some species have stems (tree-form) on which the old dry leaves are collected to protect it from the heat and water loss. They frequently store water in their thick roots. The channeled leaves of a yucca direct dew and rainfall water to their roots. Yuccas are among the first plants re-colonizing after wildfires. They have a very specialized, mutualistic pollination system, being pollinated by yucca moths (family Prodoxidae).

Yuccas are widely grown as ornamental plants in gardens. Popular as architectural plants providing a dramatic accent to landscape design. Many species also bear edible parts, including fruits, seeds, flowers, flowering stems and more rarely roots. Yucca filamentosa is native to the southeastern US. And is one species I know to be grown outdoors as a perennial in the southern parts of Sweden.

Yucca filamentosa - Adam´s needle. Y as in Yucca. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Yucca filamentosa – Adam´s needle. Photo: Carl Lewis ©

Description: Yucca filamentosa is a usually stemless evergreen shrub with blue-green, elongated leaves with thread-like filaments along the leaf margins. The nodding bell-shaped creamy white flowers grow on up to 3 meter tall stems in long terminal panicles. They bloom in summer. It creates suckers which sustain the growth. Y. filamentosa is widely cultivated in mild temperate and subtropical climates as a broad-leaved evergreen plant. Some cultivated varieties are ‘Bright Edge’, ‘Ivory Tower’ and ‘Color Guard’. They attract butterflies.

How to grow: Yucca filamentosa is fully hardy, though in cultivation it benefits from a sheltered position away from winter winds and moist. It thrives in well-drained, dry and warm sandy soils in full sun. But it tolerates partial shade. It is suitable as a solitaire in the rock or gravel garden or in mixed boarders surrounded with lower plants. It can also be grown in container but then it needs winter storage in shelter from frost. The leaf rosettes wither after the bloom and make room for the suckers. Remove spent flowering stems. Overall it needs low maintenance. Propagation by seed or rooted suckers.

Garden design part II – Choice of Plants

As you may have noticed there are some descriptions of the plants that repeat in my posts. Like solitaire, ground-cover and so on. This is one way to divide plants in when you are about to arrange a flower bed. These characteristics tell use something about how the plants grow and is vital to the composition. You may use several groups or pick a few depending on the purpose and look you strive for.

Garden Design part II. Y as in Yucca. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Weaver, Group Builder, Ground-Covering, Pop-Up.
Photo credits in the end of the post ©


Are plants with a striking feature often tall and architectural. They draw the attention and speak with capitals. They are standing by themself or in smaller groups, often of three plants.

  • Yucca filamentosa – Adam´s needle
  • Some species of Miscanthus sinensis – Ornamental grass
  • Topairy shaped plants or Bonsai


Are airy, delicate, cloud-like plants which gently weaves themself in among other plants. Holding together and softening the structure of the garden bed.

  • Thalictrum delavayi – Chinese meadow rue
  • Knautia macedonica – Macedonian Scabious
  • Gaura lindheimeri – Indian Feather

Group builders/colonizers:

Are often growing in rosettes or bouquet-like shapes holding together as a group. Some may slowly spread by creating new groups and become colonizers.

  • Echinacea purpurea – purple coneflower
  • Hemerocallisday-lilies
  • Lavandula angustifolia – lavender


Rugs or matt-like spreading plants preferably quite dense. Most are low, some are evergreen with no showy flowers which can have its advantages.

  • Vinca minordwarf periwinkle
  • Asarum europaeum – European wild ginger
  • Galium odoratum – ssweet-scented bedstraw
  • Some species of Geranium – cranesbill
  • Most species of Thymus – thyme (for example Thymus serpyllum)

Pop-up plants:

Often biennial or plants moderately spread by seed popping up here and there making the garden bed dynamic and shifting over time.

  • Verbascum thapsus – great mullein
  • Angelica gigas – purple parsnip

Did you miss Garden design part I? No worries, here it comes:
How to arrange a flower bed

Garden Relax. Y as in Yucca. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Do not forget to relax and enjoy your garden.

© The photos are licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved. License Attribution 2.0. Photo credits as follows:

X as in Xerophyllum

X as un Xerophyllum. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Melanthiaceae

Genus: Xerophyllum

Species: Xerophyllum tenax

Common names: bear grass, squaw grass, soap grass, quip-quip, Indian basket grass  Swedish name: björnlilja

Xerophyllum is a genus of perennial plants native to North America. There are two species, X. asphodeloides and X. tenax, both are monocots and closely related to lilies.

Xerophyllum asphodeloides (common names: turkey beard, eastern turkey beard, beartongue, grass-leaved helonias, mountain asphodel). This species grows in the sandy soils of New Jersey pine barrens habitat, as well as oak-pine woods in the Appalachian Mountains. It is threatened by the loss and fragmentation of its habitat and fire suppression. It is considered a popular garden plant, producing spikes of white flowers.

Xerophyllum tenax is an important part of the fire ecology of regions where it is native. It has rhizomes which survive fire that clears the ground. The plant thrives with periodic burns and is often the first plant to sprout re-colonizing burnt out areas.
The elongated leaves were used for basket weaving by the Native Americans. Its fibrous leaves, which turn from green to white as they dry, are tough, durable, and easily dyed and manipulated into tight waterproof weaves. They also braid dried leaves and adorn them on traditional buckskin dresses and jewelry. Today the bear grass are harvested for commercially use in flower arrangements (both fresh and dried) or sold in craft stores for use in arts and crafts as well as home decoration.

I have chosen to describe the bear grass because it is the one I have found out being grown in Sweden. But the description and plant care is mostly the same for both species.

Bear grass. X as in Xerophyllum. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Xerophyllum tenax – bear grass

Description: Xerophyllum tenax is a hardy long-lived solitaire plant with spiky pine needle-like or thread-like herbaceous leaves. It blooms in the early summer carrying small stellar flowers of white at the tip of the stalk like an upright club. The flowers are slightly fragrant. Plant colonies typically only bloom every five to seven years. It grows in a tuft and creates colonies by the spreading rhizomes.

How to grow: Xerophyllum tenax prefers full sunlight and well-drained but moist, rich soil. It can tolerate wet soils. It is important to supply mulch in spring to keep the moist in the ground. Regular watering is needed. Once established do not move. Propagation by seed or dividing in the spring in cooler areas or the autumn in warmer areas. 

Native arts and crafts

Almost every country, indigenous culture, and native folks have their significant crafts. Some skills have been lost over time but some still thrives. It is amazing what we can do with natural materials and the art that can be preformed. Garden/nature crafts belong to gardening and a greener living. If we do it with care and respect. At the ethnographic museum I can stand and study the arts and crafts of long gone people. Mesmerized by the beauty made by hand and few but abundant resources. Have you ever tried basket weaving?

Woven basket. X as in Xerophyllum. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Let your creativity loose. Gather old scraps or whatever you got at home and make a basket. Here follows some tutorials for inspiration.


W as in Wisteria

W as in Wisteria. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Fabaceae

Genus: Wisteria

Species: Wisteria sinensis

Common names: Chinese Wisteria Swedish name: blåregn, kinesiskt blåregn

Wisteria is a genus of about ten species of woody, climbing flowering vines in the pea family, Fabaceae. They are native to the Eastern United States and to China, Korea, and Japan. Some species are popular ornamental plants. Wisteria climb by twining their stems, depending on species, either clockwise or counterclockwise round any available support. They can grow 20 meters high and reach a width of 10 meters. The flowers grow on long racemes, some spieces have scented bloom. The seeds are poisonous and grow in pea-like pods. Wisteria has nitrogen-fixing capability, so mature plants may benefit from added potassium and phosphate, but not nitrogen. Wisteria is an extremely hardy plant that is considered an invasive species in many parts of the US, especially the Southeast, due to its ability to overtake and choke other native plant species.

Wisteria sinensis is one of the most popular flowering vines for home gardens due to its grandiose blossom. But it will only flower after passing from juvenile to adult stage, a transition that may take up to 20 years. Meanwhile it can live for over a hundred years.

Wisteria sinensis 'Alba'. W as in Wisteria. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Wisteria sinensis ‘Alba’ – Chinese wisteria. Photo: Tim Waters ©

Description: Wisteria sinensis is a woody, deciduous, perennial climbing vine native to China. It twins counterclockwise. It can be trained into a tree-like shape, usually with a wavy trunk and a flattened top.The flowers are white, violet, or blue and are fragrant. The racemes bloom in spring before the foliage has expanded. Usually reaching their peak in mid-May (in Sweden in June). The fruit is a flattened, brown, velvety, bean-like pod. It matures in summer, cracks and twists open to release the seeds. The whole plant is toxic if ingested so it is not suitable for playgrounds or likewise.

How to grow: Wisteria sinensis prefers moist well-drained soils. It is considered shade tolerant, but will flower only when exposed to partial or full sun. It grows best in a warm, sheltered spot with something to climb on. A warm wall or pergola is suitable. Chinese wisteria needs to be trimmed and pruned continuously. Cover the basal parts with leaves or hay during the first winter for extra insulation. The variety ‘Prolific’ has a weaker growth and can be grown in container, but it still needs a firm hand to prune it. Keep the container in a sheltered place during winter. Protect it from the worst cold. Propagation is by seeds, cuttings or layers, alternative by inoculation. When grown from seed it takes a very long time before it sets the first flower. So patience is needed though the foliage is a beauty itself. It is a bliss when the first flower burst into bloom.

Wordless – Wisteria

Some plants and flowers need no words. Just one look and you are captured…

Wisteria sinensis fruit. W as in Wisteria. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Wisteria sinensis fruit. Photo: 乌拉跨氪 ©

Wisteria sinensis tree. W as in Wisteria. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Wisteria tree. Photo: Empower Network

© The photos are licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved. License Attribution 2.0

V as in Viola

V as in Viola. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Violaceae

Genus: Viola

Species: Viola odorata

Common names: wood violet, sweet violet, English violet, common violet, florist’s violet, garden violet Swedish name: doftviol, luktviol

Viola is a genus of flowering perennial and annual plants, a few are small shrubs. It is the largest genus in the family, Violaceae, containing between 525 and 600 species. Most are found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, but some are found in divergent areas such as Hawaii, Australia, and the Andes. A large number of species, varieties and cultivars are grown in gardens for their ornamental flowers. The terms viola and violet are normally reserved for small-flowered annuals or perennials. And the term pansy is normally used for annual or biennial large-flowered cultivars which are raised from seed. Cultivars of Viola cornuta, Viola cucullata, Viola odorata, are commonly grown. Other species grown include Viola labradorica, Viola pedata, and Viola rotundifolia.

Viola odorata is native to Europe and Asia, but has also been introduced to North America and Australia. The plant is known as Banafsa, Banafsha or Banaksa in India. Several cultivars have been selected for garden use. The sweet scent of this flower has proved popular throughout the generations particularly in the late Victorian period, and has been used in the production of many cosmetic fragrances and perfumes. Viola odorata flowers and newly sprung leaves are also edible. The flowers, leaves and roots contain vitamin A and C.

Viola odorata - sweet violet. V as in Viola. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook.jpg

Viola odorata – sweet violet.

Description: Viola odorata is a hardy herbaceous flowering perennial. The flowers are aromatic and normally either dark violet or white. The leaves and flowers are gathered in a basal rosette. The plant spreads with stolons (above-ground shoots). The sweet violet blooms in Spring (in Sweden April-May). There are cultivars with pink, yellow, blue and white flowers some are even double/filled. One of my favorites is ‘Königin Charlotte’ or ‘Queen Charlotte’ (and it is not because of the name).

How to grow: Viola odorata prefers a somewhat moist and humus rich soil in partial shade. Fertilization is not necessary. Giving it too much nutrition discourage blossom in advantage of leaves. It is suitable as a ground cover under airy shrubs and in garden beds. It is lovely in a woodland edge or let it grow wild in the lawn. Some treat it as a weed since it easily spreads with both the stolons and seeds in the grass. But to me it adds more value to the lawn.

To sweet to eat?

Violet Decoration Cake. V as in Viola. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Violet Decoration. Photo: distopiandreamgirl ©

The violet was a symbol of fertility and love to The Ancient Greeks, they used it in love potions. Medicinal the flowers and leaves of viola are made into a syrup used in alternative medicine mainly for respiratory ailments associated with congestion, coughing, and sore throat. But the syrup may be used for other purposes too. I remember the small candy boxes with Violet Pastilles we used to get when I was a little girl. The lovely taste lingers in my memory, when I got older I discovered the awesome taste combination liquorice and violet.


© The photo is licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved. License Attribution 2.0

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2 Crochet Hooks

U as in Urtica

U as in Urtica. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Urticaceae

Genus: Urtica

Species: Urtica dioica

Common names: stinging nettles, bull nettle Swedish name: brännässla

Urtica is a genus of flowering annual or perennial herbaceous plants. The perennial species have underground rhizomes giving them a weed-like growth. Many species have stinging hairs on their green parts and are often called nettles. Thanks to the stinging hairs, Urtica species are rarely eaten by herbivores, so they provide long-term shelter for insects, such as aphids, caterpillars and moths. The insects, in turn, provide food for small birds, such as tits. This makes Urtica valuable wildlife plants.

Urtica dioica is a perennial native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America. The species epithet dioica means di (two) and oikos (house) which indicates that the male flowers and the female flowers grow on different plants. Urtica dioica has a long history of use as a medicine, as a food source and as a source of fibre. In Europe nettles are associated with human habitation. The presence of nettles may indicate human and animal influence. Being responsible for elevated levels of phosphate and nitrogen in the soil, providing an ideal environment for nettles. Nettles are the exclusive larval food plant for several species of butterfly.

Urtica dioica. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Urtica dioica – stinging nettle

Description: Urtica dioica has widely spreading rhizomes and stolons, which are bright yellow, as are the roots. It bears small greenish or brownish numerous flowers. The leaves and stems have stinging hairs (trichomes), whose tips come off when touched, transforming the hair into a needle that will inject several chemicals causing a painful sting.

How to grow: Nettles are not usually grown rather seen as a weed. But you may purchase seeds from companies that sell herbal and medicinal plants. Before planting, think twice and chose a patch where you can keep it under control. It needs full sun or partial shade. A moist and nutritious soil. Tilling is the best way to keep it in place.

A weed with many uses

In folk medicine the stinging nettle was used to treat anemia, oedema, diabetes and arthritis. The whole plant was used but the green parts was said to be diuretic, blood building, and a weak lower of the blood sugar. The circulation in the skin was thought to be improved. The active substances are vitamin C, iron and in fresh plants histamine, acetylcholine and formid acid. The stinging nettle is also used to improve the appearance of the hair, and is said to be a remedy against oily hair and dandruff.

The neat spring sprouts can be harvest to eat. The stem can be use to make fibers reminding of the process making flax. Of the fibers a fine fabric was made, called nettle cloth. The root can be used as a natural dye for textiles.

In the garden it is a useful companion plant. Stinging nettles can be used to make nettle water which is used as nourishment feeding it to plants and vegetables.


Stinging nettle pizza. U as in Urtica. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Stinging nettle pizza. Photo: Theresa Carle-Sanders ©

© The photo is licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved. License Attribution 2.0

Disclaimer: Be careful when using herbal remedies since the effects may be uncertain. I don´t recommend herbal medicine as a substitute for school medicine in any way. Always consult the professional health care.

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Creative K Kids

T as in Tropaeolum

T as in Tropaeolum. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Tropaeolaceae

Genus: Tropaeolum

Species: Tropaeolum majus

Common names: garden nasturtium, Indian cress, monks cress Swedish name: indiankrasse

Tropaeolum is a genus of roughly 80 species of annual and perennial herbaceous flowering plants. It is the only genus in the family Tropaeolaceae commonly known as nasturtium. They received their common name because they produce an oil that is similar to that of watercress (Nasturtium officinale). Tropaeolum is native to South and Central America. It includes several very popular garden plants, the most commonly grown being T. majus, T. peregrinum and T. speciosum. Plants in this genus have showy, often intensely bright flowers, and rounded, shield-shaped leaves with the petiole in the centre. Nasturtiums are also considered widely useful as companion plants. Since they repel many garden pests and also attract beneficial predatory insects. As well as pollinators.

Tropaeolum majus is edible and has an intense taste reminding of watercress, especially the flowers. All parts of the plant can be used and are decorative in salads or adds taste to stir fried meals. The unripe seed pods can be dropped into spiced vinegar to produce a condiment and garnish, sometimes used in place of capers. The species are also grown as an ornamental plant and as a medicinal plant. Tropaeolum majus is widely cultivated, but it is listed as invasive in several areas, including Hawaii, Lord Howe Island, New Zealand.

Tropaeolum majus. T as in Tropaeolum. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Tropaeolum majus.

Description: Tropaeolum majus is a herbaceous annual plant with trailing stems. The varieties are usually divided into two subgroups depending on the way they grow – bush-like or climbing.

How to grow: Tropaeolum majus prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade. It grows best in well-drained and poor soil. Too nutritious soil or too much added nitrogen, discourage the blossom in advantage of the foliage. It is draught tolerant and is one of a few that thrives together with conifers. Propagation is by seed – it sets true seeds so the mature seed pods can be collected and sown next year. It is easy to grow and can be planted in containers.

A collection of beauty

I have gathered some of the varieties of garden nasturtium. Just to show one of the greatest joys of gardening – diversity and choice of seeds. Lean back and enjoy – Tropaeolum majus:

‘Night and Day’

‘Kaleidoscope Mix’

‘King Theodore’

‘Jewel of Africa’

‘Crimson Emperor’


Due to copyrights I could not add the pictures to my post but click on the variety and a new tab will open.

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Creative K Kids

S as in Sedum

S as in Sedum. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Crassulaceae

Genus: Sedum

Species: Sedum acre

Common names: goldmoss stonecrop, mossy stonecrop, goldmoss sedum, biting stonecrop, wallpepper Swedish name: gul fetknopp

Sedum is a large genus of flowering plants commonly known as stonecrop. The genus has up to 600 species of leaf succulents, varying from annual and creeping herbs to shrubs. The plants have water-storing leaves. Sedum species are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Many sedums are cultivated as garden plants, due to their interesting and attractive appearance and hardiness. The various species differ in their requirements; some are cold-hardy but do not tolerate heat, some require heat but do not tolerate cold. Numerous hybrid cultivars have been developed. Sedum can be used to provide a roof covering in green roofs.

The leaves of most stonecrop are edible. But the ones of Sedum acre are somewhat toxic. The leaves contain an acrid fluid that also can cause skin rashes. It is native to Europe, but also naturalised in North America and New Zealand. In the wild Sedum acre grows in thin dry soils and can be found on shingle, beaches, dry-stone walls, dry banks, seashore rocks, roadside verges, wasteland and in sandy meadows near the sea. It can survive half a year without soil and water.

Sedum acre. S as in Sedum. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Sedum acre. Photo: Dick Culbert ©

Description: Sedum acre is a tufted perennial herb that forms mat-like stands. The stems are short and densely covered in leaves. At the flowering time in early summer (June-July), the stems lengthen and often gets pinkish-brown with the leaves further apart. The leaves are fleshy and shortly cylindrical with a rounded tip, like a sausage. Sometimes they have a touch of red. The starry flowers have bright yellow petals.

How to grow: Sedum acre is used in hanging baskets and container gardens, as a trailing accent, in borders, or as groundcover. It spreads when allowed to do so, but is easily controlled, being shallow-rooted. It grows as a creeping ground cover, often in dry sandy soil, but also in the cracks of masonry. It grows well in poor soils, sand, rock gardens, and rich garden soil, under a variety of light levels. With one exception it does not thrive in dense shade with limited water.

Living Roof – Sedum roof covering

Living roofs are not a new thing. It has a long history and due to its many advantages it has made a come back in todays societies. Green roofing reduces the heat radiation, cleans the air from carbon dioxide and pollutants. It also reduces the load on the stormwater system and conserves energy. Green roofs also provide habitats for plants, insects, and animals that otherwise have limited natural space in cities. All this makes green roofing a sustainable alternative to traditional roofs. And I think it is beautiful to see a living roof instead of a dead flat space. What do you think about green roofing?

© The photos are licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved. License Attribution 2.0

R as in Rosa

R as in Rosa. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Rosaceae

Genus: Rosa

Species: Rosa dumalis

Common names: glaucous dog-rose Swedish name: nyponros, törnros

The genus Rosa consists of about 200 species distributed from subtropical to cool temperate areas. I think most of you are familiar with the beautiful flowers often used as ornamental plants. They have a long history of being cultivated and hybridised. But there are also many wild forms growing in nature contributing to wildlife and foraging.

Rosa dumalis is a species of rose native to Europe and southwest Asia. It grows wild in Sweden and can be found in glades, forest edges, pastures and along roads. The epithet dumalis means shape like a bush and describes its way of growth. It is seldom used as an ornamental plant but it produces one of the best rose hips. Rose hips are common to the Rosa spp. and are false fruits or pseudocarps. Rosa dumalis is often mistaken for Rosa canina which is a rose used in gardens, for example in hedges. Rosa gallica is another species often used in perfume and beauty products.

The rose hips of Rosa dumalis is very rich in vitamin C and is widely used in cooking. The rosehips are dried and pitted to be stored for later. Or if to be used fresh boiled softly and mashed before adding them to the meal. Other uses for rose hips are tea, flour, herbal treatments.

R as in Rosa. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Rosa dumalis. Photo: Kari Pihlaviita ©

Description: Rosa dumalis has an erect and robust growth. It has rough, bent thorns which are blue-green, smooth or slightly hairy. It blooms in summer (in Sweden June-July), the flowers got dark or pale pink petals and a yellow center. The sepals are upright and remains during the season. The rose hips are smooth, oval and quite soft. Rosa dumalis is shifting in appearance between individuals.

How to grow: Since it is not cultivated there are no general advice how to grow it. But looking at its natural habitat gives us a glimpse. It prefers full sun or partial shade. A well-drained but moist soil. It requires low maintenance and is quite modest in its needs. Pruning may be done in spring. Cut a few twigs to the ground to make the bush more airy and encourage new growth. I do not recommend to use this species in a garden bed but rather in a wildlife patch.

Recipe – Rose Hip Soup

Rose hip soup is one of my favorites and have been that since I was a kid. You can buy it at the grocery store but I prefer it homemade. It is made of rose hips, water, sugar and potato flour. The soup can be eaten cold or warm. It can be served with small almond biscuits, sliced bananas, splinted almonds, whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.

Rose hip soup with with small biscuits made from almond, sugar and egg-whites. R as in Rosa. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Rose hip soup. Photo: Johan Jönsson ©


  • 5 dl dried rose hips
  • 1,5 liter water
  • 1,3 dl sugar (or other sweetener of your choice)
  • 1,5 tbsp potato flour
  • 1 cinnamon cane (optionally)

How to make:

  1. Soak the dried rose hips in the water over night or for a couple of hours
  2. Blend the rose hips with a mixer
  3. Put the mixed rose hips (with the water) in a saucepan
  4. Add the cinnamon cane (optionally)
  5. Let it boil on medium heath for about 3 hours. Stir every now and then
  6. Measure the rose hip soup and add 1,5 dl sugar to every 1,5 liter
  7. Mix 3-4 tbsp potato flour with 0,5 dl of water until it is solved. Add the mix to the soup.
  8. Heath the soup while stirring
  9. When it starts to boil it is ready
  10. Serve the soup or let it cool

You can use 7 dl fresh rose hips instead of the dried ones but then you have to prepare them before making the soup.

© The photos are licensed by Creative Commons and some rights are reserved.

Q as in Quercus

Q as in Quercus. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook Family: Fagaceae

Genus: Quercus

Species: Quercus robur

Common names: oak, English oak, French oak Swedish name: ek, vanlig ek

Quercus is a genus of about 600 species of deciduous or evergreen trees and shrubs. Many deciduous species are marcescent, not dropping dead leaves until spring.They are native in the Northern Hemisphere extending from cool temperate to tropical areas. Many species are important as lumber and for wood production. Two species Q. robur and Q. petraea are domestic in Sweden. The two North American species, Q. rubra (red oak) and Q. palustris (pin oak), are cultivated and quite common in Swedish cities and parks. Maybe the most famous Quercus is the cork oak Q. suber which bark is used in the production of corks (wine stoppers).

The oaks have many uses and a historical interest. The wood was used in the construction of ships (from Viking longships to naval warships) and buildings. Today the oak is most used in furniture, home decoration and flooring. Barrels of oak are used in the production of fine liquors like wine and bourbon. In which the beverage is stored and aged. Oak wood chips are used when smoking food like fish, cheese and meat.

The fruit is a nut called an acorn, borne in a cup-like structure known as a cupule; each acorn contains one seed (rarely two or three) and takes several months to mature. The acorn is characteristic for the genus Quercus but they look different between species. Acorns are also edible to humans in processed form, after leaching of the tannins.

Q as in Quercus. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Quercus robur. Photo: Charlotte, My Green Nook ©2015

Description: Quercus robur is a significant large tree reaching an age of about 1000 years. The crown is wide and the branches reach almost horizontal from the stem. The bark is rough and knobbly. The spieces epithet robur is derived from the Latin robustus meaning strong and hard. Which alludes to the trees massive growth and dense wood. In spring, a single individual produces both male flowers (in the form of catkins) and small female flowers. Quercus robur drops its leaves in the autumn.

How to grow: Quercus robur like most oaks prefers a slightly chalky, loamy and moist soil. Full sun and not too windy. It is best grown as a solitaire or in spaced groups. Some varieties are useful as avenue trees.



A tree may just be a tree to many people. But there is much to learn. If we take our time to study a tree closely we will find it crawling with life. Oaks are no exception rather good examples of trees with high biodiversity – sustaining many other species in nature.

At high age the oaks start to wither inside and becomes hollow. Insects and small animals gain from this. The murky wood sustains more than 500 species of insects many of them directly dependent on old oaks. Oaks play a critical role in the ecological community being keystone species, which means they have large effect on their environment relative to their abundance. In a wide range of habitats oak trees are important components of hardwood forests, and certain species are particularly known to grow in associations with members of the Ericaceae in oak-heath forests. A number of kinds of truffles have symbiotic relationships with oak trees. The European pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) is an example of an animal species that often depends upon oaks. Acorns are a vital part of the forage consumed by wildlife, including squirrels.

Quercus botanical illustration. Q as in Quercus. Blogging from A to Z April (2015) Challenge | My Green Nook

Many species of oaks are under threat of extinction in the wild, largely due to land use changes, livestock grazing, unsustainable harvesting and climate change.

  • Ecologya woodland ecosystem at BBC.co.uk. Do not miss the informative picture showing the complex system of the life web/community in an oak.