What a wonderful weekend!! A big thank you to everyone who came along and helped out, we had a lovely weekend and got loads of work done as well.
The main focus of the weekend was the creation of a new bed, which will be filled with borage, poppies, cornflowers and yarrow, which are all excellent plants for making dyes, as well as being beautiful and great for beneficial insects. Borage flowers can be used to produce a blue dye; yarrow flowers make a yellow colour, or olive if the whole plant is used; Cornflowers make a gorgeous blue colour and poppies make a stunning scarlet (of course). We also planted a row of blackcurrants in the new bed and made a gorgeous brick path through it so we don;t have to step on the soil when we come to harvest time.
Borage is also a great dynamic accumulator, pulling up nutrients from the soil and making them available to other plants when it dies back in autumn. The blue, star-like flowers are edible, and have a cucumbery taste – we love freezing them in ice cubes to put in summer drinks!
Other jobs were pruning the cherries, plums and gages, which need to be pruned in spring rather than in winter like apples and pears. We did loads of weeding and mulching, and laid a few gardeners paths through the existing beds using slate, stone and old bricks. We also propagated loads of new plants from root and soft wood cuttings – vervain, comfrey, elecampagne, sweet woodruff, autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), lovage, self heal, apple mint, pepper mint and salad burnett. These new plants will be transplanted back into new beds in the forest garden once they’ve established themselves in the greenhouse – we’re also hoping to start having some plants for sale soon, so watch this space!
We also took some cuttings from some wild Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) bushes we found on a walk at nearby Merthyr Mawr. We’re crossing our fingers that these cuttings take, as Sea Buckthorn is a really useful plant – not only does it produce loads of bright orange berries that are really high in vitamin C, but it also fixes nitrogen (it’s in the same family as the autumn olive, another nitrogen fixer). It can be invasive as it spreads from suckers and can sometimes become a bit of a weed, but we think that it’s benefits outweigh it’s problems.
All of the beds and planting areas have been marked out for working this year, which has helped with visualising the gardens shape, but has highlighted the amount of work left to do!!
We’ve got a really exciting spring and summer ahead of us in the forest garden as we get ready for the Permaculture Convergence here at Coed Hills in August. We’ve got big plans – new ponds, pathways and expanding the existing network of beds. We couldn’t do all of this without the help we get from our wonderful volunteers – another thank you to all who made it to this one. We’ve got another work weekend on the 18th – 20th May, so see you in the forest garden soon.