Cherry guild

This guild was developed for a Starkrimson sweet cherry tree. The bare rooted tree was planted in 2016 with compost, tree starter and mycorrhiza. The soil in the immediate vicinity is relatively friable. Soil testing of the broader showed it to slightly acidic, with an excess of magnesium and a deficit of calcium, phosphorus and nitrogen. This guild has been designed based on interim drip line and has been planted in berm 2 of the Lyneham Commons in Canberra, Australia.

Species list

Common name Variety Botanical name
Coriander Coriandrum sativum
Cornflowers Dwarf blue Centaurea cyanus
Echinacea Coneflower purple Echinacea purpurea
Sorrel Red vein sorrel Rumex sanguineus
Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium
Lovage Levisticum officinale
Liquorice Glycyrrhiza glabra
Broad bean Chocolate flowering Vicia faba
Clover Clever clover Trifolium subterraneum ‘Dalkeith’
Chocolate lilies Arthropodium strictum

Disease and pests 

Cherry trees are affected by three main pests and diseases: pear and cherry slug, brown rot and bacterial canker. Our best defence against brown rot is to maintain a healthy, pest free tree and a hygienic pruning regime that keeps the tree airy and well lit. Bacterial canker is most prevalent in high humidity, but will require a similar primary defence to brown rot.

Coriander has been planted to attract lacewings and hoverflies that eat pear and cherry slug. Coriander is an annual herb that enjoys full sun. It grows rapidly in cooler months and flowers from spring through to autumn. It provides a good ground cover, and can grow 60cm high.

Cornflowers have also been planted to attract bees and predatory insects. Cornflowers flower early, are drought tolerant, prefer morning sun and grow in part shade. The flowers are edible, and can make a pretty addition to salads and desserts.


There are three key nutrients required for healthy cherry production: potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.  The soil is already high in magnesium, so this guild does not include a plant to accumulate that particular mineral.

Feverfew accumulates both potassium and phosphorus. It is a perennial herb that also acts as a natural pest deterrent by means of its citrus fragrance and the beneficial insects attracted to its daisy-like flowers. The flowers can be used to make a tea that reduces headache.

Echinacea and sorrel have been planted to accumulate potassium. Echinacea is a hardy perennial with a deep taproot. The root, stalk, leaves and flowers are all used medicinally. They can be used to make a tea. Echinacea is commonly used as an immune booster.

Sorrel is a hardy perennial sun loving herb. Sorrel leaves have a citrus flavour and can be added to salads or cooked into soups. Red vein sorrel planted in this guild has a smaller leaf than other sorrels and has an attractive bicolour foliage. Potassium will also be accumulated by the liquorice which has been planted as a nitrogen fixer.

Violets have been planted to accumulate phosphorus in this guild. They are a competitive ground cover that loves shade. Violets flower in winter. The leaves can be used to make tea and they produce edible flowers, good in salads or candied as a cake decoration. Phosphorus will also be accumulated by coriander and feverfew that have been planted to help control pests and diseases.


Liquorice has been planted in this guild as a perennial nitrogen fixer. Portions of liquorice root can be harvested while the remainder of the plant is undisturbed. Liquorice root is an old fashioned treat, with a sweet flavour. It can also be used in tea, or used instead of a toothbrush.

The guild will also be planted with inoculated white clover. White clover is the plant from which common blood thinning medication is derived. The flowers also attract beneficial insects.

Bush beans and dwarf peas or broad beans will be planted on a seasonal basis. While some guilds in the Commons have been planted with climbing beans or peas, this guild will not be planted with such a climber, to ensure easy inspection for brown rot and bacterial canker.

This guild is located in a polyculture that is planted with acacias and annual nitrogen fixing green manures.


Chocolate lilies have been planted to attract pollinating insects during spring and summer. They are a native plant, used by local indigenous people as a food source. The attractive purple flowers smell like chocolate.

Succession planning

Several of the species in this guild are annual plants. Some may self-seed, but seed may need to be saved and replanted through the year. Coriander and cornflowers will need to be resown each year. It may be possible to maintain a biennial cycle with the cornflowers, but coriander will likely bolt during the summer. The broad bean will need to be replaced seasonally with a dwarf pea or bush bean as appropriate. The decision to not plant a climbing bean has been made to ensure easy inspection for brown rot and bacterial canker.

This guild contains many root crops which may be harvested on a sustainable basis. The root of the Echinacea is medicinal. Samples may be harvested every few years as the patch matures. It is recommended that harvested specimens be replaced with new seed, seedlings or young plants. Chocolate lilies also have an edible tuber. It is recommended these be harvested when mature, in the context of a bush foods workshop, and replaced with new seed or young plants. Pieces of liquorice root can be harvested from the plant without removing the whole plant. This can be done on an intermittent basis after the first 2-3 years of establishment.

Soil testing will be repeated in coming years to identify any ongoing deficiencies or new soil issues that may need to be remedied.