Saturday, March 1, 2014

Abundant Nature-An enchanted food forest at the Yard, Garden and Patio Show, 2014

As I looked at the garden designed by the collaborative team of Amy Whitworth of Plan-it-Earth Designs, Annie Bamberger of AnnieBam Landscape Solutions, Lora Price of Design With Nature and Kathryn Leech of Garden Design Studio, I wondered what does an "enchanted food forest" mean? Is this just one of those buzz words to describe sustainable gardening?

I see ribbons of beautiful vegetables growing in unconventional containers, cold frames, or raised beds, basically anything that will hold soil. Debris from the garden was used for everything from the paths to the garden beds.

I see many ways to entice pollinators to the garden with native plants such as Douglas fir(Pseudotsuga menziesii), several varieties of ferns, red twig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) and Oregon grape (Mahonia nervosa) and many others, providing shelter and food for the birds and small animals that live here. A discretely placed plaque explains that cultivars are bred for more flowers, smaller stature or other features that may not be as beneficial to animals as the species native plant.

I see innovative use of recycled materials to reduce human consumption, to tread lightly on Mother Earth. Old tires are used as the building blocks for the hobbit house. Recycled lumber and old windows make up the cold frames and honey bee farm. I smiled at the thought of all the ways my 7 year old daughter would play on the huge truck tire in front of me.

As I toured the garden, I watched every child open the door of the hobbit house, just aching to walk inside, enchanted with the teddy bears and bunny resting on the sweet purple chair. I heard adults sigh in appreciation over the intricate, Celtic designs in the shed door and hobbit house designed and built by Jane Hart of Jane Hart Design.

Oh, I get it now. This is habitat for wildlife and humans together. Enchanting places to find shelter, places to grow food, places to have fun and places to converse with friends over a warm fire.

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