Planting around the ecovillage
In the medieval period, at the time of the moat and castle on the site, there was a far more open landscape. Alder, ash and hazel were here. Oak was present in much higher density, alongside species such as blackthorn, cherry and apple. Our margins today include blackthorn and hawthorn.
We have planted a huge number and variety of hazel and apple trees around the ecovillage. We planted some walnut and will plant some more vigorous growing walnut from grafted stock in the future. We have an apple walk with 70 heirloom varieties of Irish apples from Seedsavers in Co Clare, from which we have grafted nearly 600 trees to create an apple orchard. We are building up our stock of plum, pear and cherry trees. We have lined the paths around the ecovillage with apple trees, blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries and Rosa Rugosa. We have rescued semi-mature oaks from a motorway in Dublin and given them a home here on the land. We are nurturing a small grove of Scots pine with a view to creating a refuge for red squirrels. Around the homes here we’ve also planted ash, alder, blackthorn, hawthorn, downy Birch, elder and rowan, with the vision of creating wildlife corridors and biodiversity areas throughout the ecovillage.
Our community woodland
Our aim in planting the woodland was to provide a wilderness area to nurture biodiversity. In the permaculture design process, we also focused on providing an amenity for those wishing to walk the forest, a site for educational opportunities regarding woodland skills and in time a practical return in terms of wood for fuel and for crafts, and fruits from fruit bearing trees and from the sub layers of the forest. We consulted with the site archaeologists before we chose the mix of trees and found that an original oak forest would have given way in the Bronze Age to alder, ash and hazel, with cherry grown for use in sweat houses because the smoke was sweeter. We already have ash and beech in the hedgerow. We have planted native varieties including alder, ash, oak, sweet chestnut, birch, wild cherry, and rowan.