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Productive garden in small areas dotted between trees and shrubs - ideas?

We've got a decent sized garden on a steep slope sort of southwest facing with lots of trees. The big trees are at the top so morning through to about 4pm for sun.  It moves across the garden until the big trees block it out.

Most of the rest of the garden, the lower garden,  has trees and shrubs with plants underneath like hellebore and there's a lot of that H plant with the yellow flowers and red berries,  at the same time on the same plant. 

We've planted a few small rectangles of cleared border with gooseberry in one place and raspberry plants in another.  The raspberry plants are in a line with one end going great,  the other end not so. Sunlight isn't great there or where the gooseberry plants are. Similarly one gooseberry is doing  OK the other not. 

We've also put in strawberry plants in the raised bed over the patio. Good sun and the soil is very black like it's compost or well fed with organic matter before we moved in.  The strawberries took off with loads of strawberries which the birds appreciated and quite a few runners. We'll get some more plants out of them.  They went so well we bought 3 more from the same place and cleared the small strip of lawn between the border and the raised border behind with trees and shrubs. We put the extra strawberries there with a few broccoli plants. There's also two courgettes,  a small line of carrots and two herbs in the border too. Another border other side of the steps up the garden has more herbs and broccoli. 

We potentially have very few, small areas that could be used because of trees,  large shrubs and shade in other areas. What plants would be most efficient in terms of usefulness and practicality? For example onion are so cheap I don't think we'll grow them. Swiss chard is healthy and grows well but i don't think we all like that.  Spinach would appeal to one of us and I think the more you pick the more you'll get.  A possibility perhaps. We are thinking that the area behind the greenhouse could be used but there's an apple tree near it so not a big area. That's the issue there's only a few small patches suitable for food plants.  We're wondering if there's a good fruit option for that genius greenhouse area,  perhaps plum, loganberry or more raspberry canes? 

What's your advice / ideas?

Did I say the area is limestone base rock and it's likely to be near to the surface in places? 


  • Any pictures would help. Are you keeping all the trees and shrubs because you like them?
  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,462
    Sounds like a good place to practice forest gardening. Can't make any personal recommendations, but G****e has plenty of suggestions :)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  • NorthernJoeNorthernJoe Posts: 660
    Might lose the odd tree or shrub but will probably keep most of them. Except three monsters at the top. Leylandii too big to hug, not that I would want to.

    We're hoping to have patches in the sun dotted around. The garden slope and levels don't really make a good area for anything bigger. Not without taking over. Plus there's a fair few bird and bug friendly plants. Rather help the bees.
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