Mid-summer is when Bedford Fields Forest Garden is at its best. Tucked away between the houses at the end of Woodhouse Ridge, it is a summer oasis of verdant green dotted with a multiplicity of colours of flowers in full bloom and newly formed fruits…..and just a mile from Leeds city centre.
The garden is the inspiration of a group of people who negotiated the right of access to land owned by Leeds City Council in order to convert it into a forest garden for the benefit of the Hyde Park and Woodhouse communities….and anyone else who is interested. A forest garden is rough planted and allowed to self seed whilst being managed to create vertical ‘layers’, the exact opposite to conventional planting across a horizontal surface in straight 2D rows. Anything with vine-like structure is thus of particular value as it climbs vertically around the trees, and big narrow plants are partnered with small bushy plants to create swathes of unbroken, almost weed-free plantings. In this way the garden makes use of vertical space to get more yield, reduce maintenance time and build a more resilient and diverse garden. When all the plants in the garden are either edible, medicinal or useful in some way, it turns a small space into a highly productive, low maintenance resource. Early summer had seen the first flush of green with flowers just starting to emerge…by July the garden was literally overflowing with work to stop a green mass taking over the world a priority. Despite the unusually high demand for labour, summer also brings sufficient warmth for relaxation with the garden creating a backdrop of quite iconic proportions.
Earlier visits to Bedford Fields can be traced back from the link above to the early summer visit. For more on forest gardening, probably the best known exponent of forest gardening is a guy called Martin Crawford from the Agroforestry Trust and who has produced a semi-tropical feeling woodland on the Dartington estate in Devon – see The Agroforestry Trust website or for the Wikipaedia entry.
[Double clicking on any of the images below will open up that image up in a slideshow format. You can then run the slide show using ‘left’ and ‘right’ buttons. Personally I prefer to go also to full screen having opened the slide show – F11 on my PC, don’t forget to get out of full screen is the same button , not ESC!]