Growing Medicinal Trees and Shrubs

The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook

Designing successfully with medicinal trees and shrubs

This book introduces permaculture principles ideal for designing with medicinal trees and shrubs. This is a great way to get started in thinking about how you might include healing plants from herbs to woody perennials. Many detailed descriptions of trees and shrubs are included in the book. 

Oregon grape flower

Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium) is a woody shrub for shady places. Much cultivated for ornamental purposes, this North American plant has roots and stems rich in berberine. It is used by medical herbalists in skin conditions and other complaints. More about this plant in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook.

Get help in growing and using medicinal trees and shrubs

We aim to encourage you with advice and information about medicinal forest gardening. See the links below for online courses and consultancy advice.

Medicinal Forest Garden Trust

Using the medicinal harvest

You can harvest and make your own herbal preparations. Become your own herbal apothecary for common complaints and a healthier lifestyle! We have designed a Medicinal Forest Garden Harvest Course to help you learn how! This online course takes you through the key processes involved in successfully harvesting and preserving produce from the medicinal forest garden.  Every sign up for this course helps to fund the Medicinal Forest Garden Trust!

Ginkgo leaves

Design your own medicinal forest garden

You can join an online course in designing a medicinal forest garden. Permaculture offers a way of designing a growing project. By considering the needs of people and the environment along with plant requirements a project can be customised to fit with the available site. Characteristic of permaculture design are highly productive forest gardens or food forests. Sign up for a free preview and more details about the online Medicinal Forest Garden Design Course.

Medicinal Forest Garden Trust

Consultancy advice is available

Information about growing medicinal trees and shrubs can be difficult to obtain. Many questions arise, from choosing the right plants to establishing and managing a successful planting project. We offer an initial design consultancy service to get you started, mapping out an outline plan based on your needs, for a fixed fee. Do get in touch if you would like to discuss your project.



Case Study: Developing a Medicinal Forest Garden

Holt Wood transformed from a conifer plantation

We purchased Holt Wood in 2004, when it consisted mainly of Sitka Spruce that were coming up to 40 years old, all beautifully straight trunks. At first they sought to clear a few trees. But, after some hairy experiences with guys who claimed to be able to fell trees, they were fortunate to find a local forestry contractor who agreed to clear the entire site and take the trees for timber and chipping.

With a freshly cleared site, Anne and Kay had to make some quick decisions and drew up a draft plan using permaculture principles. The plan was based on sections separated by wide rides. The aim was to coppice or pollard medicinal trees or shrubs alongside other plants to provide supplies for a medical herbalist. They were able to invite the local forestry contractor back to install a deer fence around the wood perimeter, and marked up planting sites in 2005. With volunteers helping, over 1000 trees were planted initially, each marked with a bamboo cane and a plastic spiral guard.

Once the initial planting of trees was complete, Anne and Kay could look around, discover the woodland as it grew, and invite visitors to see how everything was growing fast. But maintenance was important, including frequently making sure that weeds were kept down, paths and water courses were cleared several times each year.

Since 2004 Anne and Kay made improvements such as the addition of a forestry tool store, shaded propagation area, and they experimented further with cultivation techniques such as pollarding of willows. The young woodland has proved very productive in fuel, fruits and nuts as well as harvesting of medicinal tree barks and other herbs. The original aim was to show how sustainable supplies of natural ingredients could be produced in the UK. The project was extended to offer a demonstration example as a LAND permaculture project and excess produce was used in artisan production of herbal, cosmetic and other products. Much of the experience gained at Holt Wood has been included in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook (2020).

Purple coneflower
Willow pollard

Medicinal Forest Gardens and Permaculture

Listen to Anne talking with Daniel Tyrkiel about permaculture and herbal medicine. She tells how Holt Wood was transformed from a conifer plantation to a diverse forest garden where medicinal trees and shrubs could be sustainably cultivated and harvested. It is around 45 minutes and you can listen here…

Interview at the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2020

See Anne talking with Maddy Harland of Permanent Publications about her role as a clinical herbal practitioner and a need for growing medicinal herb supplies, you can watch here…

Snow gum young leaves

Most Eucalyptus species contain essential oils with antiseptic properties. This is Snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora), one of the hardier species. More about this and other species in The Medicinal Forest Garden Handbook.

Donate to the Medicinal Forest Garden Trust

Choose the amount you would like to donate to the Medicinal Forest Garden Trust.