Pippa Chapman, author of The Plant Lover’s Backyard Forest Garden, won five stars, and the Top Border Prize, for her mini forest garden design at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show, 2023.

The flower show is one of the largest in northern England, and for 2023 they releases the ‘creative borders’ competition. Pippa is a garden designer, specialising in food forests and permaculture. Her design was selected amongst 11 others to feature at the show.

Pippa specialises in forest gardening in small spaces and designed this micro food forest border to be packed with beautiful, edible perennial plants alongside plants for pollinators and nitrogen fixers. Measuring just 3.2m x 1.6m, this border design is a miniature eco system, cycling nutrients and combining the wildlife and habitat qualities of woodland with the harvests of a productive garden.


Show gardens are a snap shot in time, so most of these plants were spring flowering, with contrasting coloured foliage giving plenty of interest even in this small space. A small pond provides water for birds and insects and reflects the surrounding planting providing a moment of calm. Hazel poles provide a wave like natural sculptural element to the garden giving height without casting shade. The hazel wave is also a dead hedge, packed with branches, twigs, seed heads and even a small abandoned birds nest to provide a band of hiding places and hollows for small garden creatures to thrive. The food forest border is very low maintenance and provides food, is wildlife friendly and looks beautiful, ticking many boxes for the gardener.

Some of the plants included:

Apple tree, Blackcurrant, Sage ‘tricolour’, perennial kale, lemon balm, alpine strawberries, Ajuga ‘Catlins giant’, Camassia leichlinii, Brunnera ‘Hadspen cream’, Viola sororia ‘Freckles’, oregano ‘aurea’, Amelanchier lamarkii.

Pippa shares: “I had some wonderful conversations with visitors about how to grow a food forest in their own gardens. The dead hedge was a popular feature as more people are turning to gardening for wildlife. It was also popular with the judges who awarded it 5 stars and the Top Border Prize which was a wonderful surprise. The feedback was very positive, especially how beautiful the garden was, which just goes to show a forest garden can be attractive as well as edible. There was laughter as the judges explained they had fact checked whether or not Hostas are edible as they didn’t believe me. It feels a very positive step forward that forest gardening is becoming increasingly popular in the mainstream gardening world. They have even asked me back next year to create a larger food forest garden.”

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