Developing a Woodland from Zero


From monoculture rushy land to woodland in under twelve years.

Not just any woodland, but a food forest woodland, as you can see from one of the thousand plus trees planted above…a Greengage!

This is the only lawn here, enjoyed by Jack!

DSC01549There follows a series of forty plus photographs taken here at Bealtaine Cottage in July 2016.

DSC01548DSC01494DSC01547 The Bealtaine Cottage Land Restoration Project was started in late 2004.

DSC01495It was a challenge for one woman with zero resources to restore what was deemed by the EU as “Poor Land”…a term I vehemently challenge!

DSC01496DSC01497There is no such thing as “Poor Land”  just ABUSED EARTH!

DSC01498DSC01499DSC01500As with all EU projects that entail putting Mother Earth first, there was zero funding for this!

DSC01501DSC01503DSC01504Not to be deterred…(I never am!) at the age of forty eight, I took on a mortgage to help buy this bereft, sad-looking little place, with the dream of returning it to Eden.

DSC01506DSC01507DSC01508I believe the Earth is sacred.

DSC01510DSC01509DSC01511The rest of the story is told here in these photographs…


The fact that I have planted this entirely on my own, growing much of what you see from seeds and cuttings, makes this a workable model for anyone to follow…





  1. I can see that your land isn’t “poor”, there are many species. Officialdom is frightening, i.e., these experts who apparently know it all. I have a little piece of woodland, which is sandy and acidic, it grows conifer, larch and sweet chestnut, at least that is what it has, plus silver birch. I was advised by the Forestry Commission that it wasn’t worth bothering with, which meant that they didn’t care what we did with it. Woodland in Scandinavia has much the same species. They plant birch and tend these little forests. When I told a recent visiting “expert” my plan, he scoffed, after all, we all know that silver birch are “weed” trees, don’t we?. I have used the wood from fallen birch for the last ten years, and can pronounce it to be one of the finest woods there are for the stove. It supports a huge array of insects, over three hundred species I have read, as well as being so beautiful. I believe it has one of the farthest reaches from north to south on the planet, probably the first deciduous, tree south of the tundra. Of course, the experts are looking for profitable trees, but profit isn’t just about money.

  2. Do you know anyone with a drone? I’d love to see the cottage and woodland from the air.

    Sent from my iPad

  3. So enjoyable looking at these photos. Glad Jack has the small lawn to roll about. Dogs love that. I might even like to roll a bit myself on that lawn.

  4. Hi Colette, do you grow bilberries in your woodland? We are blessed to be living in an area where they are plentiful in the local woodlands and they are absolutely delicious.

  5. Impressive and inspirational. I am looking at planting trees on 15 hectares of ‘denuded tropical forest’ but would like to plant more trees in Ireland too

  6. Looks so fantastic, I am so glad I was able to visit and recognise parts of your land, well done Colette and hope to visit again – p.s. The plants are doing well and I have been collecting!

Your comments are welcome!