Curved gravel path in garden with rustic fence and wooded valley beyond

Wildlife food forest designed for scent & seclusion

The client’s brief was to create a wildlife haven in a private space, with vibrant colours and a liberal use of scent, combined with edible berries and Mediterrean herbs.

Pink roses

Rose 'Gertrude Jekyll' from David Austen Roses

The triangular south-facing site is on a clifftop above the side of the house. The structure is defined by a curving gravel path, shielded by both fruiting and evergreen shrubs and a greenwood fence.

Curvey garden path from above

View from the higher seating area

Out of sight of the house is a greenwood pergola and beyond, a small, native plant Tapestry Lawn for sunbathing. This is a non-grass lawn which is mown less frequently than a traditional lawn, and the native plants support a wide range of invertebrates.

Garden and pergola from above

Larch roundwood pergola and gravelled area from above

For privacy, habitat and as a food source, I have used native hedging plants, including Bowles Willow to screen the neighbour’s garage, Wild Privet for the scented flowers, Red Dogwood for its stems and Guelder Rose for its blossom, berries and autumn colour.

White flowers on shrub

Wild Privet, a food source for over 50 invertebrates. Photo by Niepokój Zbigniew

The herbs are also ornamental, including Oregano ‘Compactum’, Creeping Thyme, Rosemary ‘Tuscan Blue’, Lavender ‘Munstead’, Moroccan Mint, Japanese Mint and Chamomile.

Likewise, many of the berries are also grown for their flowers and autumn foliage, including Aronia ‘Brilliant’, Mahonia ‘Apollo’, Blueberry ‘Blue Suede’, Saskatoon and the magnificent centrepiece, the Strawberry Tree.

Red fruit and white flower closeup

Strawberry Tree fruit & flower. Photo by Miltos Gikas on Flickr

Initially, the site was quite exposed, so the fencing, planting and shape of the paths have been essential in creating a more intimate yet expanded space.

High grass garden marked with bamboo canes

Before, the initial site

High garden, fenced, curvey path, new beds

After the landscaping, a real transformation!

High garden, curvey path, surrounded by plants

One year on, the plants are getting established

This has been a fantastic project to work on, with the most thoughtful and engaging clients. The key to so many gardens is management. Using the online notes, garden plan and plant spreadsheet, the clients are able to identify species and care for them appropriately 💚.

CAD plan showing whole garden

CAD plan of the Clifftop Garden