What Is Forest Gardening?

Published on May 4th 2020
We all know that a garden has a thousand faces. It can be pristine with a meticulously mowed lawn or a wildlife-friendly jungle with wildflowers scattered everywhere.
Forest gardening is one other way you can approach your green space and we spoke to Simon Miles who runs a forest garden just outside of Falmouth.
Simply put, the main aims of a successful forest garden are:
  • To be biologically sustainable, able to cope with disturbances such as climate change
  • To be productive, yielding a number (often large) of different products
  • To require low maintenance
Simon explains the term to be “a no-dig sustainable way of producing food, medicine and useful plants for both the fauna and flora in and around the site and mankind alike”.
While the term does not adequately describe the concept, it gives us an insight into what a forest garden might look like: plenty of trees, shrubs and perennial plants which can provide edible leaves, spices, medicinal plant products, poles, fibres for tying, basketry materials, honey, fuelwood, fodder, mulches, game, sap products.
These gardens grow a diverse range of species, including plants which increase fertility, such as nitrogen fixers (eg. Alders [Alnus spp], Broom [Cytisus scoparius], Elaeagnus spp, and shrub lupins [Lupinus arboreus]). Where possible, pest and resistant varieties are preferred. These gardens are grown for the long term and low maintenance rather than show.

Listen to Simon talk about The Forest Garden on our audio tour:

Forest gardeners work on plots as small as 4 square meters, growing all types fruits and vegetables. "It’s not the total solution to our food or medicinal requirements. However, it’s a little like what solar panels are to electricity production in that it’s not the complete solution, but part of the mix of how our supply is produced." says Simon Milles. He himself eats the products grown in his garden:
"A forest garden is definitely a place where you eat with the seasons, and last night’s salad included Egyptian walking onions, Toona sinensis Chinese cedar, chive, fennel, Turkish rocket, Vietnamese coriander and a few pieces of a Szechwaun pepper leaf mixed with rice noodles with some diced roasted Almonds mixed in. Delicious!"
You can find out more about The Forest Garden in Falmouth on their website.

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