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The Woodland Garden

As a follow up to our article concerning Project LEAF and the initiatives underway to prevent further forest crime, we thought you’d like to know how you could create your own natural woodland, and thus supplement in some small way those forests that have been decimated by illegal logging.

Aside from forestry as a whole, by establishing your own woodland you’ll also be providing desperately needed habitats for Britain’s wildlife – every ecosystem begins with vegetation and, as such, it is impossible to judge the value of long term woodland habitats. Of course, in order to make the best foundation for domestic wildlife it is important to tailor your plant choices according to what our endemic fauna is accustomed to, so try to plant a majority of native deciduous trees, shrubs and perennials wherever possible.

Below you’ll find a few examples species we’d recommend as base plants for your woodland:

Trees

Oak

picture of oak tree

Oak tree

picture of oak leaf

Oak leaves

picture of acorn

Acorns

Ash

picture of ash tree

Ash tree

picture of ash leaf

Ash leaves

picture of ash fruit

Fruit of the Ash

Silver Birch

picture of silver birch trees

Silver birch trees

picture of silver birch leaves

Silver birch leaves

picture of silver birch catkin

Silver birch catkins

Field Maple

picture of field maple tree

Field maple tree

picture of field maple leaf

Field maple leaves

picture of field maple fruit

Fruit of the field maple

 

Shrubs

picture of guelder rose

Guelder Rose

picture of green holly

Green Holly

picture of variegated holly

Variegated Holly

picture of hazel bush

Hazel

picture of hazel nuts

Hazel nuts

picture of buckthorn

Buckthorn

 

Perennials and Bulbs

picture of foxgloves

Foxgloves

picture of bluebells

Bluebells

picture of wood anemones

Wood Anemones

picture of primroses

Primroses

picture of fern

Fern

picture of fern leaf underside

Fern leaf underside

These plants were selected based on their durability (in light of recent weather conditions!) and their being native to our shores. As such they should provide an excellent and natural base to your microcosm while strengthening the numbers of the British woodland. They should be planted in a random, natural-looking manner, rather than in regimented rows or planting beds. Go out into natural woodlands and look at how things seed themselves around and try to emulate that in your own space.

But be warned, it should be remembered that whilst a project like this has an abundance of obvious advantages, foremost of which perhaps is a garden teeming with wildlife, it can also be a difficult and lengthy undertaking, not guaranteed to succeed and requiring diligent care to get it established.

To aid the sustainability of the project, and to enhance the natural woodland feel, you should aim wherever possible to use reclaimed materials endemic to the British isles, for example, when laying pathways be sure to consider reclaimed railway sleepers, sliced tree trunks for stepping stones or simply locally produced bark chippings. To further reduce the carbon footprint of your construction phase, consider seating made from recycled logs or stone.

However, in the end, a garden can only be judged by the amount of enjoyment derived by the user and those they share it with, so make sure to include focal points. As an example a small clearing or naturalised pond can create an excellent centrepiece, the first for its rich autumnal colours and the second for the concentration of wildlife it will bring. While it may seem a great deal of work establishing such a large ecosystem in the back yard, bear in the mind the myriad of wildlife that such an environment will attract and, aside from your own enjoyment, how much you’ll be able to entertain and educate the family with such a space. If this doesn’t convince you, at least consider the aid you’ll be giving our slow march back to a sustainable planet.

By Josh Ellison

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