Plants in the City: How Plants Can Keep You Healthy and Taste Great

The summer is just beginning and Jackie’s experiments for the garden are getting more and more adventurous. But where are all the bees? Cosmopolita Scotland’s Eco-Balcony is getting bee friendly.

Jackie Bruce

Although I have over 30 years experience in horticulture, in one way or another, I still feel overwhelmed by the knowledge that is out there waiting to be discovered and shared.

This makes gardening very exciting and challenging.

Spring and summer are never long enough to experiment and do all the things I would like to do. It’s frustrating that the season is so short in Scotland. Although I start seeds into growth as soon as I can, there are just not enough hours in the day. I put them in propagators in February which helps satisfy my urge to make as much progress as possible during the growing season.

Please believe me when I say that gardening is completely addictive. Growing flowers, vegetables and herbs can be all-consuming.

Grass Roots Remedies

I’ve spoken before about the positive therapeutic energy that comes from working with soil, seeds and plants. There is always something to learn and I recently learned lots of fascinating facts about wild flowers and weeds when I attended a workshop run by the Grass Roots Remedies co-op.

These wonderful workshops are run by two ladies passionate about the free, medicinal and health-giving natural remedies that surround us in Edinburgh.

I drank nettle tea, made mixed leaf health vinegar and made pesto out of wild three-flowered leek, sticky willie and dandelion leaf. I also went on a foraging walk on the 25th of April, where we learned about weeds, plants and their healing properties.

The Tiphereth Garden Posse will be entering the Gardening Scotland design competition again this year. As we won a gold medal last year, the pressure is on to come up with something just as fabulous this year.

After my experiences at Grass Roots, I’m thinking food for wildlife and food for humans might be a good idea for a theme. I’m fascinated by the amount of plants that create wonderful nutritious food for wildlife and healthy nutritious food for us. It’s something I would like to discover more about.


My Experiments Continue

Last time I introduced you to my experiments planting in straw. The bales are almost ready to plant up. I am still mulling over what to put into them, although Roman chamomile and Calendula will most definitely be featuring.

We are growing lots of plants from seed this year for the various projects we are working on.
I am delighted that the Bullrushes are thriving now in the cool polytunnel and will be strong plants by the end of the summer, ready for the ponds at Tiphereth .

This year I am growing rainbow quinoa as an ornamental plant for the garden. They will look lovely in colours of red and gold.

I’m also growing late season seed plants for both bird and human consumption. They seem to be a bit slow at the moment but I am sure in a few weeks they will be looking great. I’m very excited to see the result as I have not grown these before. They grow into large, stately plants with the most abundant seed heads. They are easy to grow on a windowsill and will look stunning in a small garden or balcony, as a backdrop to smaller plants.

The sweet peas are growing well in the polytunnel at Tiphereth and I’m pleased with their progress. I am also trying out some red millet this year, but at the moment the young leaves are still green. They have germinated well and are growing into healthy little plants. I look forward to the results when the seed heads form.

Strawberry flowers in the Cosmopolita Scotland Eco-Balcony.

Veg seedlings are doing well. They are about to be put out into their permanent places in the veg garden, although if the weather gets any colder it will be sink or swim for the more tender salad plants. If they are destroyed by the cold weather there is plenty time to do more successional sowing. Beans and peas are a good size and should make it through the cold spell.


I have seen a few bees lately, but not as many as I would expect even though there is a lot of food around for them — the gorse is flowering, as are the cherry, crocus and lots more. I think it’s still a bit too cool and windy for them to think about serious foraging.

There have also been some bees showing up in Cosmopolita Scotland’s Eco-Balcony, which is going to be mostly flowers this year. The guys have planted a lot of climbing plants, like clematis, honeysuckle and jasmine, as well as a queue of colourful geraniums. Unfortunately for the bees, most of them have left empty handed as only the strawberries have flowered so far.

Climbing plants and geraniums in the Cosmopolita Scotland Eco-Balcony.

Autor: Jackie Bruce

Jackie Bruce is a horticulturist who works at the Tiphereth Camphill community. She writes the Plants in the City column for Cosmopolita Scotland, which gives a fun guide to growing plants in small spaces.

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