The Edible Forest Garden

The hard work involved in establishing our forest garden has been well rewarded with edible produce and useful by-products

RHS Garden Rosemoor's maturing forest gardenThe enjoyment of a summer evening stroll, foraging through hedgerows for the juiciest blackberry or the greenest sorrel leaf, is just one of the many simple pleasures in life; making the most of what nature has provided. This is what an edible forest garden is all about; nature providing food with a little help from us.

Here at RHS Garden Rosemoor, we began our forest garden in 2012, and within three years it has established at an astonishing rate, and has quickly produced good yields. It continues to develop with more and more perennial vegetables being established to cover the ground.

Not quite as it seems

The forest garden isn’t quite what the name suggests though; trying to garden in a mature forest is somewhat challenging, with most light shaded out by mature trees and many nutrients and water taken up by them as well. Instead it mimics the developing first stages of a forest, utilising the many layers you would see naturally to produce a sustainable array of fruit, vegetables and useful natural products.  

Raspberries grow well in forest gardensIt takes hard work and dedication to start a forest garden, requiring a lot of physical energy to clear ground, plant and weed.

But the system begins to take shape very quickly over the first few years, and eventually results in a low input garden with high yields of both edible produce and useful by-products; bamboo canes, firewood, even materials to weave baskets. The forest garden system can be adapted to any size of garden, whether it be a backyard or a field of several acres, so why not consider giving it go?

If you'd like find out more, and to see the garden for yourself, why not join me on a guided walk on 28 August?

See how to grow your own fruit and vegetables

Find out more about RHS Garden Rosemoor


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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.