Permaculture Projects

The Polyculture Project 2020 – Week 10

Korean Dogwood, Fig, Blackberry and Walnut Polyculture in the Forest Garden and More Alliums

It’s been great weather here this week, with some lovely rain during the night and bright blue skies in the morning. We’ve been getting on with some pruning and chop and drop this week as well a little cherry harvesting as the first fruits flush pink and are good for eating.

Here are some photos from the gardens and what we’ve been up to

So pleased to see the first of the flowers on our Cornus kousa – Korean Dogwood plants. It’s been 8 years since I sowed the seed of these plants (seed harvested from plants in the woodland gardens of  RHS Wisely).  Finally the moment for the plant to bear its own seed has arrived. Well worth the wait and we’re looking forward to the fruits in late summer. I hope that a visitor to our humble garden will take some seed from these trees with them one day and extend the travel of this plants progeny, perhaps it will make it’s way back to the far east eventually :)


Devendra Banhart’s Korean Dogwood is almost as beautiful as the plant.

Lovely to find these volunteer Centaurea sp. in the garden. This genus includes between 350 and 600 species of herbaceous thistle-like flowering plants.   There are over 76 species from this genus in Bulgaria and I’m not sure which this is. A lot of the plants in this genus produce good quantities of nectar over a comparatively long duration and are a popular food source for insects that may otherwise attack certain crops so may make a good decoy plant.

A view from the center of the forest Garden after some pruning, mowing and chop and drop.

Around about this time of year, it’s common to find a shrewdness of juvenile Homo sapiens clambering in the crowns of Prunus avium – Cherry in search of the first ripe fruits. Hopefully, we have a few warm weeks with just a little rain and we’ll have an excellent cherry season this year.

We have some great cultivars available from the nursery. You can order now ready for delivery in the Autumn

Cherry Cultivars for Forest Gardens and Permaculture

Cherry Cultivars for Forest Gardens and Permaculture


Allium moly – Golden Garlic starting to flower in Allium nursery.  When looking for some info on this plant I found a reference to a mythical plant called Moly.  In Odyssey, Homer describes the plant as follows “The root was black, while the flower was as white as milk; the gods call it Moly, Dangerous for a mortal man to pluck from the soil, but not for the deathless gods. All lies within their power” Fortunately not referring to this plant that we’ll be dividing bulbs from for delivery this Autumn.

Allium amplectens – Narrowleaf Onion is another new Allum we are growing in the nursery this year.  The plant grows wild in woods and especially in clay and serpentine soils of  North America (British Columbia, Oregon, Washington State and California.)

You can find a range of Allium bulbs on offer from our online store

Symphytum x uplandicum – Comfrey is flowering profusely. For lots more info on this marvellous plant check out our previous article – Comfrey – BELIEVE the HYPE!

Lamium maculatum – Spotted Dead Nettle is a great little groundcover plant in our forest garden. This time of year the inflorescence extends to around 30 cm high and produces these lovely nectar-rich flowers.  In the wild we can find the plant growing on the forest floor so grows well in dappled shade and will spread around an area quite slowly. It does hold its ground very well prohibiting grasses and other common volunteers from establishing among it. We have planted under Rubus idaeus cv. – Raspberry and a Morus alba – White Mulberry  pollard

Rubus fruticosus x ideaus – Tayberry fruits developing. A cross between a Blackberry and a Raspberry and named after the River Tay in Scotland, where it was first bred by the Scottish Crop Research Institute. It is an incredible blend – the fruit is the size of a big raspberry with the sweetness and juiciness of a blackberry, but helpfully does not spread as profusely as the blackberry. Tayberries produce consistently higher yields than Loganberries and the fruit is large – sometimes up to 5 cm in length.  The fruit is at its best when it has matured to a purple-red colour and can be eaten straight from the plant but also lends itself well to being cooked, frozen, and for making jam.

This Rubus fruticosus cv. – Blackberry‘ Thornfree’ is really starting to find its place in the forest garden. It took a few years for the plants to establish but now they are growing really well under various trees and have delicious fruits in late Summer. This particular plant is growing under a  Ficus carica cv. – Fig that we keep pruned to 2 m high and the fig sits under a 20-year-old Juglans regia – Persian Walnut in the forest garden.

Here’s a short video of this polyculture
We’ve still not planted out our basil seedlings but will start to get them out in between the tomatoes, squash and beans in the next few weeks. Just a few cold nights can really check the growth of these plants so I prefer to leave them in pots until the first week of June.


Paul Alfrey

Hi I'm Paul, Originally from the UK I moved over to Bulgaria with my family 12 years ago and set up the Balkan Ecology Project. Prior to that, I worked as a freelance Arborist in the UK for 15 years. Balkan Ecology Project is a family project run by myself, Sophie and our two boys Dylan and Archie, and supported by the amazing volunteers we have hosted here over the years. We aim to develop and promote practices that provide nutritious affordable food while enhancing biodiversity and work to achieve this by: - Researching, designing and implementing systems on the ground - Providing working examples of our designs at our sites open for the public to visit - Providing quality education and training to aspiring growers and landscapers - Providing consultancy and design for landowners and farmers across Europe - Practicing an open source policy, whereby we disseminate our results freely and share all aspects of our work - Growing, selling and promoting the use of plants and plant communities that have high ecological and nutritional value Our activities currently include: Biological Plant Nursery, Educational Courses, Local Land Stewardship, Polyculture Research, Market Gardening​, and Consultancy and Design.

One Comment

  1. As the originator of the term POLYCULTURE( Google it) I would like to see less single plant profiles and more focus on structural and functional interactions and their change over time. That’s what it’s all about ,if you use the term…

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