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:
Perennials and Bulbs
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 centre piece, 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