7 Magical Things about Forest Gardens

Hover fly on pale pink composite flower

Hover fly on Valeriana officinalis in the Forest Garden Wales propagation bed

With @GWandShows highlighting the benefits of #meadows, rain gardens & #plasticfree, have a look at the magic a #ForestGarden can provide 🙂

I gave a talk recently to a local gardening club and I wanted to highlight the benefits of a forest garden in an accessible way (if you didn’t know, a forest garden is a productive way to garden using trees, shrubs and perennial plants). So here are my top 7 magical things that you may find hard to believe:

  1. Zero watering: No, really. If you have an established forest garden, you don’t have to water it. Obviously, your seedlings, annual veg and pots will still need that watering can TLC.
  2. Minimal mowing: There are no lawns in a forest garden (unless you want one!!), which only leaves grass paths. For larger areas of grass, create your own mini-meadow, mow paths through them and bring out the scythe once or twice a year.
  3. Occasional weeding: Everything is mulched in a forest garden, whether with ground cover plants, temporary green manures or “cut ‘n’ drop” comfrey. Weeds find it very hard to get established.
  4. No dig: The soil in a forest garden is always covered and mineral accumulators like comfrey are incorporated into the design, and with the vast majority of plants being perennial, the underground network of mycorrhizal fungi has a chance to get established. Apart from the initial planting, there is next to no digging (though it won’t feel like it after you’ve planted a hundred bare-root whips for your windbreak…)
  5. No chemicals: The aim of a forest garden is to work with nature, which means creating a healthy balance in the garden. By encouraging predators, pollinators and a healthy soil, there really isn’t any need for chemicals.
  6. Wildlife haven: With no chemicals, in-situ composting and a multi-layered use of the garden space, wildlife has a home and a food supply, all the way up to the top of the chain.
  7. Abundant produce!: A forest garden is a productive space. It’s like an orchard, combined with a perennial vegetable patch, mixed with a wildlife garden. Nuts, fruit, seeds, salad, green veg, shoots, twine, fungi… there’s an awful lot you can grow.

Above and encompassing all these things, a forest garden, like every garden, is a properly magical space just to be.