Aspen forest

Some management and gardening in a high sierra aspen forest: a brief background with photos

So, can a high altitude aspen forest be planted and co-exist with an edible landscape? Short answer, yes. For the long answer continue reading.

Background: With a little luck (actually the harder we work the luckier we get) we found ourselves a suitable homestead with an incredible backyard - and front!

The backyard was a wild aspen forest filled with multiple streams and creeks, 18 varieties of native wildflowers, and more trees and thorny rosebushes than I could shake a willow stick at.

First year - didn't touch a thing.

Second year - planted many fruit trees along the perimeter of the forest.

Third year - planted fruiting bushes along the perimeter.

Fourth year - bramble removal, some underbrush clearing, aspen limbing, planted shade tolerant fruiting bushes within the forest.

Fifth year - more fruiting bushes planted in forest along stream banks, took some photos of the wildflowers.

Sixth year - more fruit trees (almost out of room!) and a raspberry patch.

Seventh year - planning on more apples - they along with pears really shine up here.

Eighth year thru fourteenth year - nothing but eating going on...

Native plants and trees: currants, serviceberries, wild flowers, wild rose, aspen, willow, birch, dogwood, pine, and horsetail (as ground cover).

Edibles planted: apple trees, cherry trees, pear, plum, currants, gooseberries, serviceberries, jostaberries, grapes, kiwis, chokecherries, strawberries, high bush cranberry, sea berry, elderberries, blueberries, and herbs. Links to where we ordered below. - best value online that I've found, no frills catalog but their prices and quality of plants can't be beat. - a bit more expensive, but a wider selection and a color catalog to drool over. Healthy plants too.

Our elevation is 7100 feet, summer highs to 95F, winter lows to -18F.

Enjoy the photos, when time permits I'll add captions with some more description.

The backyard still has plenty of thick ground cover, it is quite a chore to remove. Most of our wildflowers are found elsewhere throughout the Inyo National forest but at higher elevations. I believe the shade from the canopy of aspens allows the wildflowers to exist at our lower and hotter climate. Lots of water from the creek helps too!

In this photo above you can see a portion of our forest which has been cleared of rose thickets and other underbrush. Perfect for native wildflowers and fruit bushes. (Shade tolerant species preferred - though some sunlight makes it through)

Kelley's Tiger Lily

Lilium kelleyanum - Lily Family

Broad-Leaf Lupine

Lupinus polyphyllus - Pea Family

Bridge's Penstemon

Penstemon rostriflorus - Snapdragon Family

Sego Lily

Calochortus bruneaunis - Lily Family

Crimson Columbine

Aquilegia formosa - Buttercup Family

(with bug)

Richardson's Geranium

Geranium richardsonii - Geranium Family

Wild Rose

Rosa woodsii - Rose Family

Kelley's Tiger Lily w/ moth


Dontknowhatitisii perplexus

Desert Paintbrush and granite

Castilleja chromosa - Snapdragon family



Black Currant

White Currant

Stella Cherry - this tree actually has a name, Estella.

Apple - It's the Hilton Creek Winter Banana

Pear - Bartlett

Plum - combo tree, 4 varieties.

Horsetail - with mosquito

Equisetum - Horsetail Family


Planted unidentified flower

Planted Snow Columbine

Yet another planted unidentified wildflower - we don't mind

Flowering pea - non edible

American Dogwood

Cornus sericea - Dogwood Family

Quaking Aspen

Populus tremuloides - Willow Family

Just another shot of the Penstemon. Just because. (I like it)

Wild Iris

Iris missouriensis - Iris Family

Mule's ears

Wyethia mollis - Composite Family

Aspen onions

Allium bisceptrum - Lily Family

Common lilac (but sure smells good)

Syringa vulgaris - Olive Family

Honeyberry, "Berry Blue"

Lonicera kamchatika - Honeysuckle Family

White Aspen onion - the whole thing tasted great. (sorry, I didn't have to eat you but I did)

Wild iris revisited.


Taraxacum - Asteraceae Family

Burgie. Cheap beer family.