Walled Garden

Berries from Alder Buckthorn, some black, some green, on a branch of a bush

Walled wildlife food forest garden

This is a long-term and large-scale project. I was commissioned by the client to design the initial stages of a forest garden, the canopy and windbreaks, to be sympathetic with the original 18th century layout and structure. The client is satisfyingly clear in his objectives:

The main goal is food and beauty.

I have worked hard to preserve the quadrangle structure, with a central water feature. Each quad has a distinct feel and purpose:

  1. Japanese Garden with tea house & lake in the north east
  2. Mediterranean and perennial veg gardens in the sunniest north west quad
  3. Orchard with less traditional fruiting species in the south west
  4. Glade, with Hazels and meandering paths, in the south east
White flowers on a tree

Cornus kousa (Japanese Dogwood) destined for the Japanese Garden

The crop bearing plants are overwhelmingly non-native, with the exception of the Hazel and Sea Buckthorn. However, I think it is imperative to use native plants where possible, because they’ve co-evolved to be eaten by insect larvae, and they form the foundation the food web. And this can be done aesthetically, with the awareness of a deeper beauty in providing food and shelter.

Close-up of red twig, leaf and green flowerbud

The UK native Bloodtwig Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) used in windbreak hedges

At this stage in the Walled Garden, ‘where possible’ means the windbreaks, so we have used mixed native hedging, including the Alder Buckthorn in the main photo, plus Dogwood, Wild Privet, Purging Buckthorn, Scotch Broom and Guelder Rose.

For a full list of plants used in the project, see bit.ly/walled-plants

The key to the garden is the use of paths, to define and access the different areas. I was also careful to ensure the paths flow between the quads, so that mowing practically all the paths is possible without doubling back.

CAD plan showing quads and circular centre

Walled Garden CAD plan, showing symmetrical paths at centre

In November 2022, we marked up the garden with mown paths and tagged bamboo canes. It was quite the moment to see the garden take shape, particularly when viewed from the top of a wall!

Circular paths in walled garden visible from top of a wall

The paths are regular around the edges and in the centre, more organic elsewhere

A great deal of work from all sides has gone into the project so far. At the beginning, my 11 year old helped me create a 3D fly-by using Minecraft. It was a fun and useful exercise to get a sense of the space and the changing light.

Screenshot of walled garden Minecraft mockup

Mockup in Minecraft of Walled Garden from the south