Forest Garden Design

Forest Garden mushroom logs slider

Robert Hart, pioneer of forest gardening in the UK, wrote, “The wealth, abundance and diversity of the forest garden provides for all human needs – physical needs through foods, materials and exercise, as well as medicines and spiritual needs through beauty and the connection with the whole.”

He also wrote, “The advice I give to anyone who asks me how to start a forest garden from scratch, is to plant an orchard of standard fruit trees at recommended intervals, that is about 20 feet each way. Then plant the dwarf trees in midway between the standard trees. Plant fruit bushes, currants and gooseberries in between the trees. And plant herbs and perennial vegetables on the ground level.”

And he also wrote, “A forest garden requires thoughtful planning at its inception, and lots of work to get it planted and well established. Yet as the garden’s trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials mature, less and less effort is needed to maintain what it has become, in effect, a largely self-regulating system. Rather than having to do all of the tilling, raking, seeding, transplanting and other tasks required in an annual garden, a forest gardener need only perform regular maintenance – simple tasks that soon become an enjoyable extension of ordinary walk and daily observation of plants in the garden. Judicious pruning or weeding keeps plants in balance with one another. Mulching deeply with organic materials enriches the living soil, conserves moisture and suppresses weeds. Harvesting is probably the most time consuming task in the forest garden – picking fresh, delicious food for the table on a daily basis is the one chore that almost noone finds onerous or tiresome.”

Who wouldn’t want to create a forest garden? But I had longed to create a forest garden when I first heard about them on my Permaculture Design Course because, as Robert Hart also said, “The forest is in our blood.”

The vision

creating a diverse and abundant forest garden as a natural and beautiful space for the community to be, learn and celebrate together

The design

The design was an integration of a people-based and land-based design: a collaborative design process and a land-based design. The integration of the two aspects reflected the nature of the project itself as an initiative to encourage  people to connect with the land and commit to the project as well as provide an environment for community members to reconnect with their surroundings and each other in a safe, nurturing, natural and beautiful space. Click on the links for the details of the design process.

Hoathly Hill Forest Garden is an ongoing project associated with Hoathly Hill Trust: website / facebook.

Highlights of the Forest Garden Design for me were…


the planting of the trees

celebrating the dawn of a new age together