Introducing the OFG: Ornamental Forest Garden!

Sunset over close up of white pink blossom

The quince blossom in the first forest garden

I’m on a mission to prove that a forest garden can be as aesthetically beautiful as it is productive, wildlife friendly & low maintenance.

Yes, you can have it all, beauty and utility. Well, this is what I’m hoping to prove with the Ornamental Forest Garden.

Panorama of mown field bordered with trees

The greenfield site of the Ornamental Forest Garden

It’s a one acre, greenfield site (previously used as unfertilised rough pasture for cows), bordered by established trees and a track to the south and west, open to the neighbour’s field to the north and abutting the house and garden to the east.

Screenshot of CAD drawing

The beginnings of the OFG plan

It will be primarily a show garden, to demonstrate the advantages of forest gardening to “conventional” gardeners. One of the things I’ve found with our first forest garden is that it can look a bit, well, green! After reading A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees by Dave Goulson, and volunteering for The People’s Orchard project, I’ve becoming increasingly interested in the role of pollinators & beneficial insects in the garden. In forest garden parlance, pollinator friendly plants are called system plants, as they provide benefits for the whole garden ecosystem without a direct harvest. This opens up a huge range of options, indeed, I collated my 10 favourites.

Very green bed in garden

The Fruit Triangle in the original forest garden, looking very, er, green!

So, you can choose a range of pollinator friendly plants that will flower all year round. Combined with brilliant autumn foliage, fruit and structural colour, this means a carefully designed forest garden can zing with visual vibrancy for all 12 months.

Bright orange spikey bush

A zinging berberis, in resplendent autumn colouring

Young yellow hedge

The gorgeous yellow of Cornus stolonifera flaviramea windbreak hedge, ideal for bringing a glow to a shady spot

Having a limited forest garden palette and mindset is a challenge but it’s also quite liberating. We visited Farmyard Nurseries today to buy plants for the rejuvenated farmyard pond and the sheer range of plants was mind-boggling. By restricting your choice, it can make it easier to choose.

Another advantage of creating the OFG is that I can use it as material for the video and one day on-site courses that I’m currently creating.