My labour of love writing ‘ the garden of equal delights‘ has now come to fruition and I have gathered a few quotes together to give you a flavour of what you will find within:
a forest garden
“A forest garden is like no other garden. As well as food harvests and many tangible benefits for the land and local ecology, forest gardening presents the gardener with an opportunity to find a new relationship with the natural world, to see, feel and think differently; even to live differently.
A forest garden is a beautiful, fertile, healthy and abundant edible landscape. It is first conceived in the gardener’s imagination, it gestates in our planning and planting and then one day it is ready to grow. But we don’t plant a forest garden and then garden it just as if it was a ‘normal’ horticultural garden. We garden it differently because it is a different garden.”
giving up control
“ ….. in becoming forest gardeners we are stepping away from everything being about what we – as individuals or as a race – want. Becoming a forest gardener is no small thing, but it does require us to become smaller, shrinking to occupy a more fitting and appropriate ecological niche than the place we formerly occupied. Thus we start to learn that this is not about imposing our will on the garden, but paradoxically neither is it about letting nature get on with it alone. Rather this is about effectively pressing the pause button on human intervention and entering into an interaction or a dialogue with the natural processes at play in the garden. Although the concept of giving up control is a simple one this is a profound and challenging change of direction.
watching and waiting
“At a time in history when all our former certainties about how the world is or should be or will be are gradually (or not so gradually) abandoning us, now is the time to come to terms with flexibility and uncertainty, to learn to dance with life, experiment, wait and see, be patient, do things differently. Here then is a precious opportunity that is almost always overlooked. Pausing is the prerequisite – abstaining from action and then, in that pause, hand-in-hand come the twin sisters of watching and waiting, or if you prefer, waiting and watching. Neither precludes nor precedes the other – they come together or they don’t come at all.”
“Planning and planting a forest garden is just the very beginning of the relationship and this co-creativity begins immediately after planting and continues ever after. First, there is the everyday level of interacting with the forest garden to support it in creating and sustaining an ecosystem that will become healthy, fertile and abundant. But there is a deeper level as well which is about how we habitually relate to the natural world. This is the story of the remaking of our human perceptions from a perspective of assumed and rightful dominance and control of nature to a place of humble, appreciative, thoughtful and sensitive integration with it. Therein are significant treasures that are not at all obvious from the outset.”
“Participating with nature in the growth and development of the forest garden is not an easy transition to make; it is challenging, uncomfortable and can bring out all sorts of insecurities and fears. Leaving behind the attitudes and beliefs that we have all been immersed in all our lives is at once very simple and very difficult. It is simple to understand and in the context of forest garden theory it makes perfect sense. But it is harder to put into practice because it is the antithesis of how we humans see our place and function in the world. We believe that we are here to dominate and to control, not to stand aside and watch nature take over. But stand aside the forest gardener must. The changes engendered on the journey of becoming a forest gardener so fundamentally alter the relationship between the gardener and the natural world that they are significant enough to be described as a new paradigm.”
wildness and healing
“When the wild knocks at the boundaries of your garden asking to be allowed in, it will be life itself looking for a way in, seeking a crack or an opportunity through which to enter. And therefore all you need to do is to be open to that opportunity and see where it takes you. It will be the whole seeking its disparate parts, trying to breach the void, reunite and reintegrate them. Life is the gardener, and the forest gardener recognises that it is calling us to pay attention. This is a call to heal the land, heal the people and heal the rift between us.”
now is the unfolding of forever
“Continuity and renewal are the context for everything in the forest garden and for me. Now is the unfolding of forever and as all the trees and plants in the forest garden live out their own life cycles, generation upon generation, life itself cycles through the garden. This is never-ending. The forest garden has a future continuing into time unknown. Thus it becomes a bridge across time and space as energy and matter cycle repeatedly through all life. The forest garden is a localised part of great global cycles – cycles of carbon, nitrogen, water and more. There are cycles within cycles, all interconnected, melting from one to another in the endlessly productive dance of life. This is a paradox of constant change within continuity, and within it there is a magical element of unpredictability. The challenge is to learn to live with this, to live with energy and matter – the ultimate constituents of every life – transforming themselves endlessly in repeating dance. The forest gardener is a dancer too. My place is in that circle of life – alongside you and all life. It always was.”
principles of forest gardening
“In writing this book my intention has been to set out straightforward principles that can provide guidance to forest gardeners, or ordinary gardeners, who seek to integrate themselves into the ecosystem of their garden. Each place is unique and each gardener is unique and it is the combination of place, person, purpose, perception and decisions that will create each unique forest garden. By pinning down what it means in each garden to do only the minimum, to plant polyfloral polycultures, to support nature’s transformational magic and to harvest only enough… each forest gardener will discover for themselves what is and is not appropriate in their own patch. Thus my explanation of my inter-activity with my own garden is entirely personal and just one small example of what a forest garden can be. The scope for other outcomes, when different people and places interact with their own local ecologies, is infinite.”
the garden of equal delights was published on 22nd June 2020 and is available from Triarchy Press and all good booksellers.