Gardens come in all shapes and sizes, and even the smallest can be stunningly beautiful. In more recent times, gardens have become somewhat of a luxury. House prices have gone up, and with it, garden sizes have decreased, or even become somewhat non-existent. However, gardens, forests, and other greenery is extremely important to our well being, our community and our Earth. If you are one of the lucky people who own, or look after, a large garden, your burdens may be somewhat different. Maintaining a large piece of land, especially one with a forest element, can be extremely time-consuming and physical work. Luckily, there are handy professionals, such as Tilhill Forestry who are well versed in all things landscape gardening, and can be of huge assistance. With a little clever landscaping, forest gardens big and small can be transformed into beautifully maintained areas of nature, and with this bring a whole heap of additional benefits. We’ve rounded up some of the most inspiring landscaped forest gardens to encourage you to think outside the box with what you can do with your land, and outlined the benefits that come with maintaining and upkeeping forestry.
Lydford Forest Gardens, Somerset
Lyford Forest Gardens is situated in the quaint Somerset village of Lydford and is a community garden. Throw out your ideas of a drab bench and some droopy daffodils, Lydford Forest Gardens is an exemplary community nature space which really shows what can come out of some clever thought and perseverance. Modelled on the traditional forest garden set up, Lydford Forest Garden is made up of several layers of vegetation that all grow and nurture each other. Rather than digging the soil and having separate spaces for growing each element, for example, an orchard, this forest garden allows all the types of vegetation to grow together. This harmonious connection between the plants, trees and shrubs there reflects the nature of the community maintaining the garden. Lydford Forest Gardens was borne out of wanting to respond to ‘Agenda 21’. This works to raise awareness about what individuals and communities do locally to help the earth, and asks participants to work towards sustainable developments, with all sections of the community represented within the decision making process.
Edible Landscapes London, Finsbury Park, London
Another community project is Edible Landscape London, which is primarily based in Finsbury Park. Going further than just being a community garden, Edible Landscapes is centred around educating people living in the inner city about growing their own food. You can head to Edible Landscapes London to go on forest garden courses or shorter workshops, if you are new to forest gardening or would like to learn more. It’s location in Finsbury Park, a district in North London is unusual for landscaped forest gardens, but this makes it all the more special. We love to see the passion of forestry making its way to city-dwellers, and spreading the love of sustainable food produce no matter how small your garden (or balcony!). This garden contains around 200 different species of perennials. These are arranged in guilds, to better enable a mimicry of natural ecosystems, and therefore encourage growth and produce.
Old Sleningford Farm in Ripon, North Yorkshire
Heading north, Old Sleningford Farm is based in North Yorkshire, and is actually classed as a small holding. This farm also promotes education of living sustainably, and would like to encourage a low impact way of life to those who come to visit and learn. If the capital doesn’t seem like your vibe, Old Sleningford Farm offers the northern charm – you can attend volunteer workshops and courses here too, to learn more about forest gardening and low impact living. An especially exciting aspect about this forest garden is that it raises and looks after animals. Old Sleningford Farm currently has sheep, pigs, chickens and bees all year round. Occasionally, you might be lucky enough to spot a turkey or a goose! The low-maintenance, high reward benefit of keeping a forest garden was the initial appeal to the owners. Although it took a while to initially set up, the forest garden at the farm is now thriving, and is open to group visits and tours.
Karuna Forest Garden, Shropshire
What we love about the Karuna Forest Garden is it’s ethos of sharing. The website states: The survival of the world depends upon our sharing what we have and working together. If we don’t the whole world will die, first the planet and next the people”. With this thought in mind, Karuna is the Sanskrit translation of compassion. Having compassion for the planet has culminated for the people behind Karuna, as a forest garden: loving, growing and sharing the produce. It spans a sizable 18 acres and has been developing and growing since 2006. It hopes to provide an example of a space that can positively help the British nation feed, power and accommodate itself. It actually holds the impressive title as the largest forest garden in the country, hosting over 10,000 trees which definitely makes this place worth a visit. Karuna Forest Garden is all about living in symbiosis: where each life form, be it human, animal or plant, work with and for each other to support and stimulate one another.
With only three places of inspiring forestry named here, it is not hard to see the immense benefits that these natural spaces are contributing to our global well-being and community positivity. Not only do they promote sustainable living, growing and eating our own food and taking care of our planet, they are actively encouraging people to learn more about the forest environment we are surrounded by in the U.K. and offering opportunities to get involved with the wildlife within nature reserves, or the plant life within the forest gardens themselves. We’re certain that in the years to come, these places will be held in even higher regard, but hopefully will have paved the way for more sustainability focussed projects to come in the future. While each of these projects initially seemed like a daunting task, especially on a community level, dedicated planning and expertise has made these areas of positivity a reality. We can’t wait to see how this trend develops in the future.