I have always thought that forest gardens are the ideal Climate Emergency garden, ‘tough on Climate Change, tough on the causes of Climate Change’ as Tony Blair (remember him?) would say.
But I have never really known what they would actually look like. This is a bit strange, as I actually consider a forest garden to be more of an idea than an aesthetic. But hear me out. I originally said it was a garden emulating edge of woodland in a cool temperate climate. Then I designed a forest garden with only one tree, somebody commented that it couldn’t be a forest garden with only one tree, and I replied that it was more about the layers than the treeness.
Then, I used a photo of a small forest garden with woodchip paths with timber edges. Somebody else commented that it couldn’t be a forest garden with timber edges.
I came to the realisation that it is more about the ecosystem rather than the form, whether it is part of the landscape. Edible, yes, wildlife, absolutely.
John Little is my most thought about gardener, as is constantly exploring habitat and growing mediums for diversity. Benjamin Vogt opened my eyes to native plants in an ornamental garden. Stephen Barstow, Alan Carter, Alison Tindale and Robin Harford have opened up my larder to perennial veg and foraged foods.
Most recently of all, Nadine Mitschunas has shown how beautiful an allotment can be.
So, my vision of a Climate Emergency garden draws inspiration from all these amazing peole. A space designed primarily for life, in all its forms. There are a number of common key features (edibles, trees, wild flowers, herbs, native plants, wildlife habitat) which are simultaneously site-specific.
I’ll have a think on this some more.