Forest garden seeds

The seeds have been a bit of a trial because I felt I had to clear the studio bench, where all incoming junk collects, to make space for the sowing effort. A breakthrough occurred when I realised that I could sow the seeds in my nice warm office, downstairs, then just shove the junk back enough to get the trays under the roof lights. 

For your pleasure, I’ve copied my seed list below, including the descriptions from Martin Crawford’s catalogue. (I just scanned that list and realised  that I need to crack the olive seeds.) You’ll spot that I’m still bringing on a few trees even though Warland Farm’s canopy layer is practically full. Can’t resist them. The non-Crawford stock is yet to be sown. I have 200 rhubarb and 100 asparagus seeds, for use as ground cover in the coppice orchard, plus 300 lavender seeds with which we hope to put on a show in the front field, beyond the meadow. I do like a nice rhubarb crumble!

Treesponsibility came back to spend a day “beating up”, i.e. surveying their plantings and rescuing or replacing weaklings, but only after I got shirty with them. Today, they phoned to ask if I wanted all their left-over half packs of trees from this season: I had to say yes even though getting them in the ground is another urgent job I could do without. Maybe I can heel them in somewhere until next planting season.

Tony is making me a guitar and has sent pics of the lumber. He might like to look through my store, too, when he’s here. I have biggish lumps of steamed beech, hard maple and iroko that we can mill down for you, plus a few smaller bits of lignum vitae and african rosewood (bubinga). Oh, and some Whitby jet and other semi-preciousness for inlays?

From Agroforestry Research Trust

Acca sellowiana Pineapple guava ND
(Syn. Feijoa sellowiana) Pineapple guava. Bushy evergreen shrub with grey-green leaves growing to 2 m (6 ft) high or more. Large flowers are white and purple in midsummer, and are followed by reddish-green edible fruits 5 cm (2”) long in hot summers. The fruits are delicious, being aromatic, with a pineapple-strawberry flavour. The flowers are also edible raw, being sweet crisp and delicious. Can be used for hedging in mild maritime areas – hardy to -12°C. Likes sun and a well-drained soil; good on walls in cooler climes.

Achillea millefolium Yarrow ND
Yarrow. Mat-forming perennial, spreading via rhizomes. Edible leaves, medicinal, bee plant, ground cover, accumulator. Likes sun and a well drained site; hardy to –40 °C

Actinidia chinensis Smooth Kiwi CS4
Smooth kiwi. Not to be confused with the better known and hairy skinned A.deliciosa, this is a smooth skinned climber with large smooth-skinned fruits of excellent flavour. The sap from stems can be used as a glue and the plant for facade insulation. Dioecious; hardy, to -15°C. NB Protect from cats who love to eat the plant!

Allium babingtonii Babington leek ND
Babington leek. Perennial leek species for edible bulbs or leeks.

Allium fistulosum Welsh onion ND
Welsh onion. A hardy perennial forming clumps of onion-flavoured bulbs, and rounded, hollow green leaves. A great perennial vegetable.

Alnus cordata Italian Alder CS8
Italian Alder. A medium sized tree from Italy, fast growing and very wind-hardy. Tolerates much drier conditions than most alders and one of the best temperate Nitrogen-fixing species for drier areas. Excellent in windbreaks, growing 50-100 cm per year. A source of pollen for bees in March. The sap is edible (tapped and processed), while the timber is used for furniture, charcoal and gunpowder, clogs, water pumps, turnery etc. Give full sun or part shade. Hardy to -20°C and excellent in Britain.

Althaea officinalis Marsh mallow ND
Marsh mallow. Hardy perennial growing 1.2m high in any soil. Young leaves are edible as are the starchy roots.

Amelanchier alnifolia Apple serviceberry WS4+CS16
Saskatoon, Regent serviceberry. One of the best North American Amelanchiers for fruit, the saskatoon is a large shrub reaching 5m (16 ft) with rounded leaves and tasty, sweet blue-black fruit about ½” (12 mm) across produced abundantly. Good in windbreaks and hedges, and sometimes used for erosion control. Source of pollen for bees in April. Likes a moist, sunny site but tolerates some shade. Growth 3m (10 ft) in 10 years; hardy to -25°C.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry SC
Bearberry, Kinnikinnick. A prostrate, spreading evergreen shrub from Northern temperate regions; grows 30 cm (1 ft) high. The pea-sized fruits are edible, while the leaves are used medicinally, in teas, for tanning and dyeing. Good ground cover and bee plant. Likes an acid soil and a position in sun or part shade; hardy to -25°C.

Artemisia dracunculus Tarragon ND
Tarragon. Perennial plant from southern Russia, source of the familiar herb. As well as the edible leaves, the essential oil is used as a flavouring and the leaves are used medicinally. Likes a dry sunny site; hardy to -15°C. Watch out for slug predation.

Berberis vulgaris Common Barberry CS8 Hedging, fruit
Barberry, Pipperidge. The native British barberry, a deciduous shrub to 3m (10 ft) high bearing lots of clusters of bright red, egg-shaped edible fruits (very acid, lemony, used as a lemon substitute, to make a drink or for preserves). The flowers, leaves and shoot tips have also been eaten. Likes a sunny or part-shady site; very good in hedges. Source of nectar and pollen for honey and bumble bees in May. Several parts of the plant have been used for dyeing and medicinally. Hardy to -35°C.

Chaenomeles japonica Dwarf quince CS13
Japonica, Dwarf quince. A small shrub, reaching 1m (3 ft) high and across. Bright orange flowers are followed by yellow, fragrant, edible fruits 1½” (40 mm) across (best cooked), freely produced. Ground cover and bee plant. Hardy to -23°C.

Chenopdium bonus-henricus Good King Henry ND
Good king Henry. European perennial growing to 80 cm (32”) high. The leaves and young shoots make a good spinach when cooked. The plant is also used medicinally and as a ground cover. Gold and green dyes can be obtained from the plant. Likes a position in sun or part shade; hardy to -20°C.

Claytonia sibirica Siberian purslane ND
(Montia sibirica) Siberian purslane. Not from Siberia, this North American short-lived perennial grows 20 cm high in a any moist soil in sun or part or full shade. The leaves are edible, raw (an excellent salad plant – beet flavour) or cooked, and the plant can be used for ground cover – it self-seeds freely. Hardy to -35ºC.

Colutea arborescens Bladder senna SC
Bladder senna. A medium or large deciduous shrub from the Mediterranean region, growing up to 5 m (16 ft) high; naturalised in Britain. A nitrogen-fixing legume. A good hedging and bee plant; the leaves have been used medicinally, and the wood is used for implements, small furniture items and makes good fuel. Likes full sun and a well-drained soil; hardy to -20°C.

Cupressus macrocarpa Monterey cypress CS4 Windbreak, timber
Monterey cypress. A large, fast growing evergreen tree from California. In the west of Britain it makes one of the best windbreak and shelterbelt trees, especially near the coast. A good nurse tree for other species. The durable timber is valued for construction, joinery etc. Likes a sunny site; hardy to -15°C.

Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet CS13
Meadowsweet. European perennial growing to 2 m (7 ft) high when flowering. The leaves can be used for tea, the flowers for wine and the roots cooked and eaten; the aerial parts are medicinal, and all parts give dyes. A good mineral accumulator which attracts bees and beneficial insects. An essential oil from the plant is sometimes used in perfumery. Likes a part or fully shaded site and a moist soil; hardy to -30°C.

Fragaria vesca Wild strawberry CS4
Wild strawberry, woodland strawberry. A low growing semi-evergreen perennial plant, spreading and rooting as it goes. Most folk know the wild strawberry and its small but very tasty fruits. Strawberries make a good component of a ground cover layer beneath or around other plants. The fruits and leaves are used medicinally, and bees love the flowers. Grow in any soil in sun or part shade; hardy to -23ºC.

Glycyrrhiza glabra Liquorice SC
Liquorice. Perennial legume from Southern Europe, growing up to 1.2 m (4 ft) high. Sometimes cultivated as an annual. The roots are edible raw – they are the source of common liquorice. Also used medicinally, and a good ground cover. Deep rooted and an excellent mineral accumulator as well as fixing nitrogen. Likes a moist soil and part or full shade; hardy to -12°C. NB plants doesn’t start growing until late May or June – be patient!

Hypericum calycinum Rose of Sharon CS4 (probably should be H. perforatum, St Johns Wort)
A small trailing shrub to 30 cm (1 ft) high from the Mediterranean with grey-green leaves and deep yellow flowers in summer, loved by bees. Makes a good ground cover. Likes a well drained soil and sun; hardy to -20ºC.

Malva moschata Musk mallow ND
Musk mallow. A robust native upright perennial growing to 1 m (3 ft) tall, freely flowering in summer and autumn with pale pink or white flowers, will self-sow. The leaves are excellent in salads with a mild flavour; the flowers are also very good in salads. All parts are medicinal and a fibre has been made from the stems; various dyes are made from the plant; bees love the flowers. Grow in any soil in sun or part shade; hardy to -35ºC.

Mahonia repens Creeping barberry CS17
Creeping barberry, Creeping Oregon grape. A spreading evergreen shrub to 60 cm (2 ft) high, tolerating deep shade. Bloomy black fruits, 10 mm across, are edible. An excellent ground cover and understorey crop; also used for hedges. Hardy to -20°C.

Melissa officinalis Lemon balm ND
Lemon balm. The familiar perennial herb with lemon-scented leaves which are excellent as a flavouring, in salads and teas. Planted thickly, it is a useful ground cover plant; it self-seeds readily and spreads quickly if allowed. Bees love the flowers. A good mineral accumulator. Tolerates most soils in a sunny or partly shaded position; hardy to -25°C.

Mentha piperita Peppermint ND
Peppermint. The familiar hybrid mint used for flavouring, herb teas etc. It is a vigorous spreading perennial, growing to 90 cm (3 ft) high and forming a ground cover; likes sun or part shade and a moist soil. As well as being edible and medicinal, bees love the flowers and all aerial parts are useful for dyeing. Hardy to -35°C.

Mentha suaveolens Apple mint ND
Apple mint, Round-leaved mint. Another vigorous mint from Europe, this one a spreading perennial growing 1 m (3 ft) high which likes a moist soil and sun or part shade; hardy to -20°C. Leaves are used for flavouring, bees love the flowers, and forms a ground cover.

Monarda citriodora Lemon bergamot ND
Lemon bergamot. Perennial, likes a well drained soil, has wonderful flavoured leaves for making teas etc.

Myrrhis odorata Sweet Cicily CS20
Sweet Cicily. Great perennial herb with anise/liquorice flavoured leaves, stems and tap roots. Likes some shade.

Olea europaea Olive ND crack shell
Olive. Small evergreen tree from the Mediterranean region which hardy needs describing; grows to 6 m (20 ft) high. Source of the fruits which are usually pickled, and the oil from fruits used for all culinary purposes. The oil, leaves and bark are used medicinally. Likes a sunny site and well-drained soil; hardy to -10°C or so once established.

Oxyria digyna Mountain sorrel ND
Mountain sorrel. A perennial from Northern temperate regions, growing 50 cm high. The leaves are edible raw in salads, with an excellent lemony flavour and almost succulent texture. A dye is obtained from the flowers. Self-seeds readily. Likes a moist, slightly acid soil in sun or part shade; hardy to -40°C.

Phormium colensoi Mountain flax ND
Mountain flax. An evergreen shrub 1.2-2m (4-6 ft) high with sword-shaped leathery leaves. These leaves produce a strong fibre suitable for ropes, paper etc. They can also be used as twine merely by splitting and using fresh. Likes a sunny spot; tolerates exposure and suitable for hedging. Hardy to -12°C.

Pimpinella saxifraga Burnet saxifrage ND
Burnet saxifrage. A European perennial growing 1 m (3 ft) high which grows in most soils. The young leaves and shoots are eaten in salads, the seeds as a condiment and an essential oil is distilled from the root as a flavouring. The leaves and roots are medicinal. Good at attracting beneficial insects. Hardy to -25°C.

Pinus sylvestris Scots Pine CS4
Scots pine. Large evergreen tree from Scotland, growing to 36 m (120 ft) high – 6 m (20 ft) in 10 years. A major forestry tree in Europe, producing good quality timber used for all construction purposes etc. The young shoots and essential oil from them are used medicinally. Likes sun and a well drained soil; hardy to -30°C.

Rhus glabra Smooth sumach WS13+CS13
Smooth sumach. A shrub to 3m (10 ft) high, with fruit clusters which are soaked in water to make a lemonade-like drink; young shoots are also edible raw. Dyes, tannins and medicinal products are obtained from several parts. Tree used in hedging and for erosion control; good bee plant in summer. Growth 3m (10 ft) in 10 years; hardy to -40°C.

Rosa Rugosa Ramanas rose CS17
Ramanas rose. A vigorous medium bushy shrub, reaching 2.5 m (8 ft) high within a few years. Bears large edible hips (hairs around seeds must be removed), the flowers are used in teas and preserves. Excellent in hedges and windbreaks, also a good dune and soil stabiliser; also a bee plant. Many medicinal uses. Any reasonable soil in full sun; hardy to -40°C.

Sanguisorba minor Salad burnet ND
Salad burnet. An evergreen perennial growing some 60 cm (2 ft) high, flowering from spring to summer, with an extensive root system. The young leaves are available all year and are edible in salads with a mild flavour. The leaves & stems are used medicinally and the plant is a good mineral accumulator; bees like the flowers. Prefers a well-drained, calcareous soil, but will grow in most situations including in grass. Hardy to -23ºC.

Staphylea pinnata Bladder nut WS22+CS13
Bladder nut. A large vigorous shrub from Europe and Asia, growing 5 m (16 ft) high in 10 years. It produces edible seeds 1 cm across tasting rather like pistachio nuts. Likes a moist soil and sun or part shade; hardy to -20°C.

Tanacetum vulgare Tansy ND
Tansy. Perennial from Europe, growing to 1 m (3 ft) or more in height, which spreads aggressively. Likes a sunny or light shady location and a moist soil. Most useful in the garden for its ability to accumulate minerals from the subsoil, and to attract predators of a number of insect pests – good under fruit trees. It is also a bee plant, dyes are obtained from the aerial parts, and the leaves and flowers are medicinal (use with caution). Foliage is used as an insect repellent. Hardy to -25°C.

Viola odorata Sweet violet ND
Sweet violet. A tiny evergreen perennial from Europe, growing 20 cm (8”) high. The leaves, flower buds and flowers are all edible raw, and an oil distilled from the leaves and flowers in used in liqueurs and perfumery. The roots, leaves and flowers are used medicinally. Can be used as a ground cover plant. A woodland floor plant which likes a moist soil and part or full shade; hardy to -25°C.

Zanthoxylum schinifolium Szechuan pepper CS13
Szechuan pepper. A very aromatic shrub from China and Japan growing 2 m (6 ft) or more high. The leaves can be used as a flavouring, but the main use is the peppercorn-like black fruits, which are used a spice (peppery and fragrant) – grown commercially as a spice crop in Asia. Grows well in any reasonable soil in sun or light shade; hardy to -20ºC.


Rhubarb (soak before sowing in March; harden off; plant out in warm weather)
Asparagus (sow singly in February for June planting)
Yellow rattle for meadow
Lavender for beds in bottom field
Bog myrtle for FG

Stratification key
ND Not dormant, sow in spring
SI Not dormant, must be sown immediately
SC Scarify and sow in spring
CSn Cold stratify n weeks
WSn Warm stratify n weeks

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