Over the last fifteen years, I have brought different interesting plants, to my environment. It helps diversify the insect population and I don't use pesticide. You do need to intervened one in a while, when the balance is not to your liking, but sooner or later nature will take care of it. Being a lady farmeress (the feminin form of gentleman farmer, my attitude is relatively casual on the subject of productivity, I admit). In the orchard, there is now a great many different types of clovers and wild flowers. Around the house on one side, the ground was sandy and acidic and it is now covered in creeping thyme growing where it will, a clump of which I brought from a road side, a few years ago. It's exquisite when you walk on it. There is a section in crownvetch on a dry hillside and the soil is greatly improved. I got chestnuts, the unedible kind, under a particularly beautiful chestnut tree which I had noticed in town, and planted a row in the garden in the Fall. The next Fall I transplanted the small trees (around ten, I think) here and there in a forest nearby. I went to visit them last summer, they grow more like a bush, as they are not quite hardy for this climate. I got some small red elms growing near a beautiful red elm growing in a parking lot in town close to where I used to work (I made sure that none of my work colleagues were in sight before I started digging), and transplanted them here and there. I planted some American ginseng on the north slope of a deciduous shady forest. It took a few years before I could tell that some of it was growing, as it is a very elusive plant.
We have lots of wild hazelnut bushes around and this year I intend to buy some domestic types to see if I can improve the size of the wild ones.
When you go for a trip somewhere in a climatic zone similar to yours, collect some seeds and plant them casually here and there while on your walk. This way you get two walks instead of one... !!. Some will take, others won't but after a few years, your forest will begin to be interesting and more diversified.
For coniferous, you just have to collect mature cones, they are usually full of seeds.
Anyone has experience in selection? I would be grateful for suggestions about improving the size of wild hazelnuts.
Hélène, zone 3