Garden Photo of the Day

A Community Miniature Forest

Planting habitat

completed community forest with newly planted trees and shrubs

We visited Kat Kinch’s new home garden recently (Heritage and Habitat), and today Kat is sharing a cool community gardening project in Ontario, where she lives.

The Warkworth Little Forest is the best of community initiatives: organized with a minimum of meetings, by a group of helpful volunteer contributors known as “forest gnomes,” and for public benefit and enjoyment. Placed at the gateway to a popular local walking trail where an annual lilac festival is held, this 13-foot by 13-foot site is home to approximately 40 trees and shrubs that are local to our watershed and chosen for their wildlife value for butterflies and birds as host plants and habitat. The planting is comprised mainly of upland species, suitable to a full-sun location with moderate soil conditions.

The little forest is planted in the Miyawaki method, a style of urban reforestation that involves very dense planting of canopy and understory trees and plants. Such miniature forests grow very quickly due to their internal competition, forming an interconnected thicket of high-quality vegetation in a relatively short period of time, and establishing in years instead of decades.

two gardeners putting mulch over cardboard to create a garden bedThe Warkworth Little Garden site was prepared as a no-dig bed, with the underlying grass covered with cardboard, and was heavily mulched in the late spring. (This first photo is by Kat’s friend Linda; the rest she took.)

new trees and shrubs in their nursery potsThe trees and shrubs were available as a kit, but concerns for spongy moth predation caused us to foster the trees at community homes over the summer for early fall planting. By fall, the no-dig area had no remaining cardboard and was relatively weed free.

volunteers planting the trees and shrubs in the new garden bedAll of the foster plants went into the ground on September 5, 2022, as part of a volunteer planting event. The site got a good watering on planting day, and then afterward it remained well watered by rain, which was then retained by the deep mulch.

close up of new tree with red fall foliageThe trees were all in good condition heading into the fall, even making a show of fall colors before heading into winter dormancy.

completed community forest with newly planted trees and shrubsWe are excited to see the Warkworth Little Forest grow, first with a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance native-plant flower garden across the front edge of the little forest, and then hopefully with a second little forest “wet meadow” site in the floodplain of a nearby creek, filled with trees and shrubs resilient to seasonal flooding. Both of next year’s planting projects are already funded by a very generous donation from the Northumberland Master Gardeners, our local Master Gardener group.

volunteers posing behind their community gardenUntil then, we’ll enjoy watching the first little forest come back next spring, bigger and better for a winter putting on roots.


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. gardendevas 11/28/2022

    Bravo! What a gereous and long-sighted project!

    1. k0kat 11/28/2022

      Thank you!

  2. User avater
    simplesue 11/28/2022

    Such a nice thing to do- volunteer and work together as a gardening community!
    The mini forest is such a cool idea, and I can't wait for you to share more photos of it in a few years as it evolves and grows tall.
    I'm rather fascinated by this project, never saw anything like this before in such a small space, and I'm certain it will, over time make a huge impact!

    1. k0kat 11/28/2022

      I will definitely send more updates as it grows! It was so much fun pulling it together, and we are currently overwintering another 44 trees for next year. There are other little forests like it here in Canada - if you look up they have a mini forest hub in their resource section.

      1. User avater
        simplesue 11/29/2022

        Thanks for the inf on I just found the link and love the plant ID section!

  3. btucker9675 11/28/2022

    Can't wait to see the little forest's progress!!

    1. k0kat 11/28/2022

      Me too! Will send updates as it develops!

  4. alvamiler 07/03/2023

    This information is very helpful for my work from my location, and I look forward to hearing more from you.

  5. alvamiler 07/25/2023

    This so cool, love it.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest