Situated near the Labyrinth, the Forest Garden at Lindengate was created in 2022.  A forest garden can be an ideal way of having trees, bushes and edibles in a small home garden. The concept of a Forest Garden was promoted by Robert Hard in the 1970s. He realised that nature does not divide into discrete categories cultivars, vegetables and trees around different locations. In nature, plants and trees merge and mingle, finding their own levels in order to grow successfully. Therefore, Hard recommended using seven levels of growing;  a ‘canopy’ of large fruit trees,  a lower level of nut and dwarfing stock fruit trees, a shrub layer consisting of fruit bushes, a perennial layer of vegetables and herbs, a level of ground cover edible plants, a layer of vines and climbers and finally an underground level of Rhizosphere plants and fungi.  Due to the low light levels within native forests, it is important to consider the layers carefully. Think about what plants grow well in shady areas or work well in a location’s particular climate.

The landscape of a forest garden at first glance can appear disorderly.  Often home and commercial gardens are about creating order and neatness but at Lindengate nurturing nature comes first.  For us, the Lindengate Forest Garden is about creating a balanced ecosystem to let nature flourish. Our aim is to try and mimic a natural forest that is suitable and sustainable for the disturbances of climate change whilst being productive with a good yield and ideally low maintenance.  When planting a forest gardens also think about including medicinal plants, poles, fibres for tying basketry, sources for honey, fuelwood, mulches and sap products.  Using deep rooting pants is great as they tap the mineral sources deep in the subsoil and raise them into the topsoil layer where they become available to other plants, for example, comfreys, sorrel and docks!  We also encourage the propagation of umbellifer plants to attract natural predators of common pests for example, tansy or cow parsley.

If you want to create a forest garden at home remember to consider how best to shelter your top and soft fruits. Our Forest Garden is sheltered by fencing, native hedging and of course the garden’s location on site. The hedge is planted within the forest garden perimeter and on the adjacent side of the fence inside the wildlife conservation area.  The hedging chosen are to ensure wildlife flourishes for example, crab apple, hazel, rosa rugosa, beech.  For example, beech foliage is eaten by moth caterpillars like the barred hook-tip, clay triple-lines and olive crescent caterpillars.  The seeds from beeches are eaten by mice, voles, squirrels and birds. Beeches also encourage the growth of native truffle fungi.  In our hedge we also considered nitrogen fixing herbaceous plants like Everlasting Sweet Pea (Lathyrus Latifolius), vetches, clover and in the first year annual broad beans. At Lindengate we not only want our forest garden to include some of the stunning trees we nurture in our tree nursery but also to provide lots of edibles. This year we planted herbs, salads, nuts, top fruit trees, espaliers, fruit bushes and vegetables.

If you meander around the bark chipping and log edged paths, you might notice that they are designed to be wide enough for people, wheelbarrows and equipment.  The paths will enable us to maintain the garden and harvest the vegetables and fruit as the trees and plants grow.  One final area to think about when creating a forest garden is water.  You might want a natural pond, harvest rain water or create a water source. Water is essential to help your garden grow and support wildlife.

In the corner of the Forest Garden there is a small seating area so why not take time to rest and reflect and enjoy the natural beautiful of Lindengate’s forest garden.