Forest Garden Update July 2012

I wanted to get some current pictures of the Forest garden posted, with a short account of where I’ve got to so far, and what’s next. For those who haven’t visited the blog before, it might be worth  you checking out the Forest Garden paragraph of the Pictures, Designs, and Plans page, before continuing.

The first picture is a view from the top (North East) corner of the Forest Garden, which is about an acre in size.

Forest Garden Overview

View from the top

The pink bands that you can see running across the picture are the swale banks, which are covered in Musk Mallow. This is a wonderful plant, perennial, edible leaves and flowers, great bee forage, deep rooted, and able to compete with grass. I planted most of these as self seeded plants from the vegetable garden,and they have started to self seed, and expand. The pictures below show a bit more detail.

The plants are a mass of flowers, and are constantly visited by bees.

Musk Mallow

Musk Mallow

These pictures show the large white grains of pollen  sticking to the body of the bees, even when they are not actively collecting it, ensuring good pollination for the plant..

Bee on Mallow

Bee on Mallow

Bee on Musk Mallow

Bee on Musk Mallow

The picture below is of the top belt of trees, which are primarily timber trees, with a few fruiting trees on the open, Southern edge.

Forest Garden Timber Belt

Timber Belt

What isn’t clear from the picture is the grass mulch stacked at the bottom of the trees, cut with a scythe, nor the grass dropped into the swale on the right of the picture. The trees are in the long grass to the left of the picture.

Phyllostachys praecox

Phyllostachys praecox

The picture above shows one of five bamboo plants growing in this section. This is Phllyostachys praecox, which is a large, tasty, hardy bamboo. The thin dark lines are the new shoots emerging.

Purple Loosestrife in Swale

Purple Loosestrife in Swale

The picture above is taken from the other side (East), and shows  the Purple loosestrife flowering in the bottom of the swale.

The next picture is of the first of the food producing belts. There are a couple of things to look at. First of all the fence posts mark the positions of the primary fruit trees, which are on order, and will be planted this Autumn. the second is the slightly darker  line running down the centre of the picture. This is darker soil, and more lush vegetation, created where I left a line of mown grass over Winter. This is how I’m planning to mulch the trees. What also happens is that although the grass dies back, the mulch does not hold back the growth of creeping buttercup, and sheeps sorrel. What I aim to do is to replace those with mint, another creeping plant, but with one with more uses.

Forest Garden Picture

Forest Garden Belt 2

The picture below shows one of the glades, which surround the individual, primary fruit trees. This is one of seventeen bays. You can also see the browning grass mulch, around the site of the primary tree, and the support trees around the edge of the glade.

Forest Garden Glade

Forest Garden Glade

This is another view, and shows the series of glades slightly better, along with the dark line running along the open area.

Forest Garden

Belt 2 Glades

The picture below shows the third belt, taken from the South eastern side, looking up the Eastern shelter belt. The distance between the trees above, and the swale below, is much larger, so I’ve left some long grass un mown. We have a barn owl that hunts over this field, so leaving some longer grass gives space for voles, which gives food for the owl.

Forest Garden picture

Forest Garden Belt 3

Forest garden Picture

Forest Garden belt 3 from West

The picture above is taken from the other side of the field. Again you can see the glades, and the belt of long grass left after scything.

The picture below is of the third belt, again taken from the South East. The yellow flower is birdsfoot trefoil. Like many of the wildflowers, I mow around them, and they seem to be spreading into the surrounding spaces. This belt has space for four fruit trees  below the swale, and three along the eastern side.

Forest garden Picture

Belt 3 from South East

The final picture is of the bottom section, below the swale and pond. The dark plant next to the post is knapweed, which is also spreading.

forest garden picture

View from South East Corner

There are two spaces marked out for largeish fruit trees, possibly mulberries, although I’m thinking of putting the two that I have on order above one of the chicken forage areas, to use the fallen berries as chicken food, and putting three hazels in this space. I also have a Phyllostachys nuda here, and will plant out another in the Autumn.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the pictures, and am happy to answer any questions that you might have about the design, or the implementation.

8 thoughts on “Forest Garden Update July 2012

  1. Sue

    I came across your site when googling ‘forest gardens’. We’ve just bought 5 acres of field in Devon and are planning a half acre forest garden on what is currently pasture land.

    Thank you for all the pictures – I shall be following your progress with interest, although I suspect we have very different terrains to cultivate.

    I’m interested in the fact that you scythe your grass manually. May I ask what scythe you use and where you got it? I don’t think I can recall having seen these at the local agricultural merchants but I may be wrong. Also (and here the wimpy woman speaks) is it very hard work?

    Reply
    1. Deano Post author

      Hi Sue
      I use an Austrian Scythe, and plenty of women use one.
      The link below will take you to the Scythe Shop page that lists instructors. Whilst i would be happy to teach you, it’s along way to travel, and Alastair, who is listed as the Devon instructor, is a good lad. Tell him that I sent you if you’re interested.
      http://www.thescytheshop.co.uk/courses.html
      The site give splenty of information about scything, but it can be addictive.
      The answer to your question though is “sometimes”. conditions, sharpness of your blade, and you own ability as a mower plays a part.
      Personally, I wouldn’t doait any other way.
      All of the best

      Deano

      Reply
  2. Sue

    Hi Deano,
    I think I might just be a convert. I’ve looked at the site and watched a few videos on YouTube – particularly those of the West Country Scythe Festival. These guys are going like the clappers because they’re in a competition, but when it’s taken at a more gentle pace it looks quite meditative, like Tai Chi or something.

    Thanks for the info and good luck with the forest garden.

    Sue

    Reply
    1. Deano Post author

      Hi Sue
      I’m pleased that we’ve got another potential convert. You’re right about the pace, and the style of mowing. Get a godd teacher, and then have a go. I’m planning to go to next year’s festival, after missing the last two. perhaps we’ll meet up there.
      All of the best

      Deano

      Reply
    1. Deano Post author

      Hi Steve
      Always busy…. but I’m looking forward to next year. I’m hoping for a veteran’s category, for those of us over fifty, although I still don’t think that would get me closer to a trophy.
      Take Care
      Deano

      Reply

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