Garden visits it a blog series where I visit gardens then blog about them!
We're back at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Macynlleth again, there's too much there for one blog post!
I loved the Forest Garden at CAT. Forest gardening is something I'm super interested in and something that I intend to incorporate, on a small scale, into my garden. Basically, forest gardening is a way of working with nature to grow food crops. If you visit a woodland you'll see trees, shrubs and ground cover plants all growing together, they don't get watered or fertilized by human hand, but they still grow big and healthy. What I've read about permaculture says that nature hates bare soil. Nature will send in lots of things to cover bare soil, annual and perennial weeds, shrubs and trees. Any ground left uncovered and uncultivated for long will turn itself into a mini forest and grow quite happily and abundantly. So forest gardening uses these principals and tweaks them for human use, by choosing the right plant species, to grow low maintenance and abundant food forests that benefit people, wildlife and the environment.
Anywho, the Forest Garden at CAT is fairly small, but I think that's a good thing as it shows what's do-able in an average sized garden.
There are lovely old apple trees, underplanted with gooseberry and currant bushes and perennial food, flowers and herbs.
I loved the perennial salad area. Growing perennial crops, rather than annuals, is another important idea in permaculture and forest gardening. The idea is that perennials can grow better root structures and be more productive because they're longer lasting plants. Perennials are also lower maintenance, they don't need to be sown or bought every year like annuals. Growing perennials disturbs the soil less too, you're not yanking them out of the ground at the end of the season, so they're better for no dig gardens.
There's an edible flower selection too, including things like pink purslane, creeping bellflower, snow garlic, ladies smock and campanula persicifolia.
Wild strawberries are used lots as ground cover.
And around the back of the forest garden are more fruit bushes and a beautiful carpet of something with blue flowers that was attracting a crazy amount of bees. It wasn't labelled but if I had to guess I'd say it was maybe either vipers bugloss or hyssop.
This is what CAT's website says about it's forest garden,
"A truly ecological way of growing food. In a forest garden, the plants grow under and over, in and among each other. It is designed so that the plants help each other grow - with trees providing shade to shade-lovers, ground covers suppressing the weeds, and nitrogen fixing plants increasing the fertility. It has the same multilayered structure as a woodland, but all the plants are edible or useful. Check out our string plant and our creeping raspberry."
Here's the string plant, in case you're curious!
You can read more about the Forest Garden at CAT on their website.
PS. In case you missed it, here's my post about the allotments and polytunnels at CAT.