Sunday, 1 July 2018

Site Visit/Consultancy - Dave and Barbara's Garden

Last week I visited Dave and Barbara's beautiful garden around Veliko Tarnovo. The garden is occupied by a large diversity of fruiting trees and shrubs including a very impressive walnut that appears a custodian of the area. There is a large diversity of perennials herbs across the property and areas designated for wildlife. The soils are in excellent condition, a well drained loam with plenty of organic matter and Dave's irrigation system provides a great example of sound water management, the grey water and rainwater being channeled directly into the garden and delivered to the plants via an under ground network of pipes. 

Dave has also installed a  solar heating water system for the summer, a winter hot water heating system utilizing the log burner that heats the house and a small grid tied solar electric system which keeps the electric bills to a minimum. 

Location: Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo
Area: 3800 m2
​Climate: Temperate
Latitude: 43°
Elevation: 106 m
Average Annual Rainfall: 598 mm
Prevailing Wind: NW

 Dave and Barbara's property is highlighted in white

A view from the entrance

There are amazing views from the garden such as this one of the river Yantra - Я̀нтра a right tributary of the Danube.

The mature fruit and nut trees on the property are in excellent health and I hope to return to the garden in the dormant season to collect some scion wood from some of the old plum and pear trees, they tasted divine:)  

Bramley Apple 



Apple trees under planted with Comfrey for pollination support and mulch material 

The water harvesting and use of gray water from the house ensures the soils are well hydrated on the property, and even during the hot summer period the grass remains lush and green, something quite difficult to achieve in this climate with little summer rain and high temperatures. The lawn is mowed throughout the growing seasons with the trimmings dispersed around the garden by the mower providing a good source of fertility.    

Barbara and Dave were seeking opinion on how best to manage the woodland on the property and how to care for the numerous fruit and nut trees and shrubs that they have planted over the last 7 years. One of their goals for the garden is that it remains healthy and productive for generations to come.  The woodland on the property was recently acquired and used to be a garden but has been more or less abandoned for the last 20 years. Some fruit trees can still be found among the regrowth.   

A Cornus mas - Cornelian Cherry cultivar growing in the woodland, a remnant from the old garden.   

Old logs and stick piles and tyre ponds can be found throughout the garden providing valuable habitat to a range of wildlife 

A common mistake many growers make when planting fruit trees, including myself when we started our first forest garden, is to plant too densely. Spacing between trees should account for the mature size of the plant unless you intend to thin plants out as they mature. Here the hazels, olives and pomegranate have been planted alongside the track. This plant spacing will result in a hedge forming with the olives likely being crowded out. The recommendation here was to transplant the olives and allow 4m between the hazels and pomegranates.      

Another common mistake is to plant fruit trees on unsuitable roots stocks. If you are looking for a range of fruits and nuts for personal consumption that you can pick from the ground it's better to select plants on dwarf root stocks or dwarf growing species. Pruning the trees to a manageable height will often result in the removal of the fruiting buds and therefore the removal of the fruit.    

This is a newly developed area dedicated to soft fruits and fruit trees. The plants have established well and are full of fruit. Some permanent access in this area and transplanting some of the fruit trees will result in an easier to manage and more productive garden for the future.     

The general recommendations I suggested were to establish permanent access in and around the new gardens areas, to transplant the young fruit and nut trees to avoid overcrowding in the near future, to clear some vigorous trees in various parts of the garden to allow better light and air circulation for the younger plantings and to introduce perennial herbaceous plants and bulbs to encourage beneficial wildlife. Plants from Apiaceae - (Umbelliferae)  Asteraceae - (Compositae) and Lamiaceae - Labiatae can be used to fill spaces between fruit trees on sunny edges attracting beneficial insects such as pollinators and pest predators. These are beautiful plants many of which can be used in the kitchen for herbal teas and many other uses. Leaving the plants with hollow stems to stand throughout the winter and early spring also provides nesting sites for some of these beneficial insects.    

Thank you Dave and Barbara, it was a pleasure to visit your garden that provides a great example of how we can create beautiful spaces that grow a range of delicious foods while providing a place for wildlife :)

Recommended Species List for the Garden

Beneficial Perennial Herbs

Achillea millefolium - Yarrow
Allium schoenoprasum - Chives
Allium tuberosum  - Garlic Chives
Echinacea purpurea - Purple Coneflower
Erysimum cheiri - Aegean Wallflower
Eupatorium cannabinum - Hemp Agrimony
Foeniculum vulgare - Fennel  
Hypericum perforatum - St Johns Wort
Levisticum officinale - Lovage
Lythrum salicaria - Purple Loosestrife
Lysimachia ciliata - Fringed Loosestrife
Phlomis russeliana - Turkish Sage
Rudbeckia laciniata - Goldenglow
Salvia sclarea - Clary
Salvia officinalis - Sage  
Satureja montana - Winter Savory
Tanacetum vulgare - Tansy  

Woodland Bulbs and Ground Cover

Ground Cover
Ajuga reptans - Bugle
Alchemilla mollis - Lady's mantle
Lamium maculatum - Spotted Dead Nettle
Physalis alkekengi - Chinese Lantern
Vinca minor - Lesser Periwinkle
Sedem spurium - Caucasian Stonecrop
Rubus caesius - Dewberry

Corydalis bulbosa - Spring Fumewort
​Galanthus gracilis - Snowdrop
Narcissus poeticus  - Poet's Narcissus (sunny edge)
Scilla bifolia - Alpine Squill

Ground Cover Seeding mix for Soft Fruit Garden

Trifolium repens - White Clover
Onobrychis viciifolia - Sainfoin
Calendula officinalis

If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands on experience join us this Spring. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers and making a small wildlife pond. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you to digest slowly.

We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture and forest gardens  including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March. Give a happy plant a happy home :) 

The Bionursery

 If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

No comments:

Post a Comment