Principles of forest gardening

Nature has taken me on a journey along a delightful and complex path – the polyculture path to the heart of the garden; and on that journey I have learned these principles of forest gardening which are summarised briefly below.  However, in order to explore and explain the fulness of their meaning, interpretation and application it has taken a whole book!  ‘the garden of equal delights‘ is the story of how my small garden on a wet and windy Welsh hillside taught me firstly how to learn from nature and then what to learn from nature.  This is not a sales pitch, but please read it, what I learned from nature is important, vital even.  Our planet is dying on our watch and learning how to integrate ourselves into the ecosystem in which we live is crucial to any attempt to support life to thrive again.

 principles of forest gardening

Forest gardening is based upon the structure, composition and functioning of a natural woodland including the resultant ecosystem and its emergent properties. In a forest garden biodiversity means health; a living soil and increasing biomass mean increasing fertility, and together health and fertility mean abundance.

First stop; don’t do anything until you need to and, in that prolonged pause, let go.

Everything the forest gardener does takes full account of the whole of the forest garden ecosystem – what has happened, what is happening and what they intend for the future.

Watch and wait.

When you have to do something, only do the minimum.

Plant polyfloral polycultures everywhere.

As far as possible the trees and plants in a forest garden should live for their full life span and reproduce themselves naturally and unaided.

Support nature’s transformational magic.

Whether in abundance or not, harvest only enough.

Demonstrate appreciation in meaningful and tangible ways.

Polyculture learning is slow learning.

Welcome the wild.