THE PLANTING AND USE OF TREES:
My vision is not to plant a garden but to adapt little areas for specific purposes, within the existing framework, and that these features should be largely self maintaining, developing their own character and blending in with the surrounding environment.
We plan to have at least two of the five acres planted with willow, good for structures, fencing and basketry; alder, a resilient structural timber which, more importantly, doesn’t rot; birch, excellent craft wood for turning and also a fine structural timber; hazel, as undercover and also a good habitat for the endangered dormouse; and white poplar, as a main fuel supply. We would employ a seven year rotation of coppicing, harvesting the wood like any other crop.
There will be two ritual grove sites. One will be a general purpose grove of mixed deciduous trees, all with relevant spiritual, mythological or historical associations. These include Oak, Holly, Rowan, silver birch, elder,lime, hawthorn and field maple or hazel.
The other will be a more intimate and private place, forming a woodland sphere secluded from the land around it and acting as an alchemical cauldron, especially focused on feminine energies. This will definitely be a natural place to completely withdraw from the world.
Please note that there are lists of sacred Celtic trees, as appear in the Tree Alphabet, and also the tree calender (with their corresponding months), on a separate page entitled Extra Information.
We also plan to plant a large labyrinth, formed from live willow and made in the shape of the three circles of a triskel; the paths meeting at the centre to form another very special gathering place, either for small groups or to meditate in alone.
There will be other living structures: bowers, arches, pergolas, trelising and “fedging”, and possibly even a bower to conceal a compost loo (for the sake of modesty for use in the summer only when the leaves are on the trees!)
There are certain individual trees for specific purposes which we would like to grow if the land will support them; a lime tree, symbolically the place for gatherings; a yew tree to mark the gateway between places, areas of the land, times of day or life, energetic levels and worlds. We also rather fancy a copper beech… any beech tree represents wisdom… who knows, we will have to see!
A sweat lodge traditionally built from the boughs of trees has also been suggested.
THE ABUNDANCE OF WATER:
We have already begun to utilise the abundant water on the land by digging out a channel around a designated piece of land and allowing it to fill with water to form an island. There are more pools, hidden watery corners and waterways planned for the future.
There is also the stream which crosses the western end of the field and provides the water supply. It has pleasant and open sunny banks… possibilities to explore.
THE LAND ITSELF:
A circular gathering place, surrounded by raised earth banks, is planned for near the Hafod. The banks will be grassed over with sitting spaces moulded into the bank sides, and planted with pockets of sweet smelling aromatic herbs.
This area will also have a central fire pit and open air cooking facilities and will serve many purposes, including the preparation and consumption of meals when the weather is fine enough, space for talks and workshop activities and a general gathering and social/relaxation area.
I have already ear-marked an area in which we hope to build raised beds to grow herbs in. I would like to have as near a complete collection of traditional Welsh/Celtic herbs, for both culinary and medicinal purposes, as possible. A list of these is also available on the page entitled Extra Information.
I intend consulting our own local fruit tree grower, Ian Sturrock (of Bardsey Apple Fame), as to what fruit trees may do best on our poor and almost none-existent soil. I particularly wish to plant an apple tree on the island, and so begin to achieve my very own “Isle of Avalon”!
Eventually we hope to plant fruit trees all around the perimeter of the land, with all manner of fruit bushes and canes growing in between them. I dream of the day when the whole place is burgeoning with crops and the gate is left open all autumn to allow neighbours and strangers alike to come onto the land to pick their own for free, taking a little of the magic of the place away with them contained in the land’s generous bounty.