Over the last two weeks or so we have had persistent, relentless rain or battering winds or, at times, both! However one evening recently there was a short, warm, sunny interlude and I went out to spend time in the garden. It felt full. It felt abundant and it was beautiful. Mercifully the air was still and as well as my own feelings of tranquillity and joy it seemed to me that the garden herself was feeling the same. Perhaps it was a hint of the (yet to come) autumnal feeling of mellow fruitfulness, of being surrounded by a deep peace, and the sense of worthwhile accomplishment, things well done and of deep satisfaction.
Of course, none of this is my doing. As an ecosystem the garden of equal delights is her own ‘being’ and I am but one part of that greater whole. It is the garden that brings forth the abundance. I assist in setting up and supporting conditions that will help, but that is all, the real ‘work’ is done entirely by others.
“In a forest garden biodiversity means health; a living soil and increasing biomass mean increasing fertility, and together health and fertility mean abundance .”
“I think of this as the foundational principle because it holds within it just about everything needful to know; that is to say that everything in the forest garden and the forest gardener’s experience relates directly to this principle.”
This then is the principle of forest gardening that encapsulates the entirety of possibilities that may ensue. How that works out in practice is explored and explained further in my book ‘the garden of equal delights‘.
Every year since the currant bushes began to bear fruit there has been huge amounts of fruit on them.
Last year I pruned one blackcurrant bush back to the branches that I thought would be able to hold the weight of future heavy crops, but the bush is once again so full that many branches are close to lying on the ground.
I swear these blackcurrants must be the tastiest on the planet, they are simply superb! I made jam with one kilo of fruit and we have had some more fruit either raw or cooked, but my estimate is that we have taken off less than a quarter of the fruit from this bush and hardly touched several other bushes. It is never my intention to take everything.
Redcurrants, whitecurrants, gooseberries and jostaberries are also heavily laden and bending downwards. There are lots of these bushes all over the garden where I put cuttings in the early years. I have made some jam and jelly from jostaberries and whitecurrants and plan some gooseberry jam and redcurrant jelly, but once again the vast majority of these fruits will feed the birds.
This is the first year that strawberries have done well and for a few weeks we had a bowl of them each evening with our meal. I left about half the fruit for the mice and birds. It is also the first year that the amelanchier bushes have borne fruit. I tasted them cautiously at first, and soon found out they are very pleasant, if a bit seedy! The colours are magnificent as they ripen through a range of reds and purples. I have gathered a small bowlful most days since they began to ripen, and the majority will be eaten by the birds. At first I thought the birds may not be interested in them as some over ripe berries were falling to the floor; but then I saw a blackbird balancing on a swaying branch in the wind and getting his fill before hopping across to the cherry tree for his next course!
This is also the first year that the cherry trees have had more than a few fruit. The two sweet varieties – Stella and Cariad – lost a lot of their fruit during the very dry time we had before this very wet time, but the Morello cherry has held on to hers and they are utterly beautiful.
I have a bowlful to make some jam later on today, and once again, the rest will be for the birds.