Implementing growing systems which emulate, enhance and work in harmony with nature, requiring
minimum input, low labour and intervention resulting in high yield, maximum efficiency, high
productivity, optimum diversity, improved biodiversity, improved soil quality, optimising edge (which
is the most productive growing area), also utilizing pioneer species.
Woodland gardening utilises sustainable systems rather than a controlling adversarial approach
(everything not a friend is a foe – eliminate).
Growing edible and otherwise useful, predominantly perennial plants, with selected self seeding and
complimentary annuals, diversity is key! There are details of over 7000 species of edible and
otherwise useful plants suitable for growing in our temperate climate researched by Ken Fern and
listed on the Plants For A Future database here www.pfaf.org
Many of the plants are well known but their uses are not … woodland gardening offers the potential
to increase the range of healthy and delicious foods in our diet and improve / preserve biodiversity.
Research has shown that before agriculture and selective cultivation 200 to 1000 different species
of plants would be eaten by one person in a year. In general fewer than just 20 or so fruits and
vegetables currently provide more than 90% of readily available commercially grown food crops.
Useful temperate climate plants and their many advantages - each plant species often having several
benefits including; food, beverages, herbs, fibres, construction materials, dyes, fuel, preservatives,
medicines, soaps, glues, wildlife habitats, insect deterrents and attractants, sensory and wildlife
gardens, pioneer species and nitrogen fixers, wind breaks and shelter belts, ground cover and most
have a much higher nutritional valuable because they have not been bred for size, water content,
taste, colour etc., these more natural plants are also often more resilient, hardier, and resistant to
Perennial planting concept - each year apples grow on trees regardless or despite of us, you could
spend time pruning and cutting back ground cover etc. but even if you just sat back the apples would
grow, for the next 50 years or so, inter planting with bulbs or roots, shrubs, ground cover and
climbers making optimum use of the land unlike an input intensive low yield annual crop such as
carrots or lettuce. The diversity of integrated planting also means that pests and disease are less
likely to jump from one same plant to another.
The plants work together not competing but occupying niches, feeding the soil, bringing up nutrients,
creating humus, aerating, creating habitats, providing ecosystems and so on.
Very little weeding or watering is required, no feeds, no sprays as nature provides organic 'pest'
control. Rain is absorbed rather than forming surface water and evaporating or causing loss of topsoil
through excessive erosion caused by runoff.
The vital mycorrhizal layer is undisturbed and resulting fungal and bacterial activities are beneficial
to the root systems of plants!
● Emulating nature establishing
balanced eco systems, increasing
biodiversity, no dig, companion
planting, symbiotic relationships,
woodland edge, pioneer species
● 7 layers - canopy, low trees,
shrubs, herbaceous, rhizosphere,
● Improving soil structure,
mulching, raised beds, drawing up
nutrients, adding retaining
minerals and trace elements,
increasing organic matter,
building humus, drawing
up and retaining moisture,
reducing erosion and compaction,