Thursday, May 2, 2013

Planning a New Landscape-Time to Refocus

Caretaker of the Home Landscape

My landscape had a major face lift this past season. When we lost four big trees, the sun/shade dynamic was clearly changed. So..... I'd like to share my thoughts on the landscape makeover, and what we are considering.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for the Montgomery County Master Gardeners newsletter on Permaculture.  Two Australians, Bill Mollison and David Helmgren brought to the forefront the idea  that humans need to 'mimic' relationships we find in nature.  This idea translates into 'permanent agriculture,' and perhaps an even broader philosophy of, 'permanent culture'.

Becoming aware of patterns in nature, we can apply these patterns to our landscapes and our lives.  For a species to survive and reproduce, essential needs must be met.  Each species, whether plant or animal, has a natural expression and when these needs are met, harmony exists.

When we design an ecosystem with little or no stress on the plants chosen, the harmony is high.  (My collection of hosta is not going to be happy with the full sun it is going to get.)

I need to create niches for the plants with minimum competition for light, water, and nutrients for my plants to survive. By planting polycultures - groups of plants that work together - these companion plants thrive.

This concept goes further to expect us to take responsibility for our own existence and therefore, we must design our communities to be more self-sufficient.  Newly planned communities have shopping,  doctors, and schools nearby.  The plan not only saves us time, but also, fossil fuel use is greatly reduced. 

Three keywords that the Permaculture mindset embraces are Fairshare, Peoplecare, and Earthcare.

Fairshare  ideas have us limiting our consumption and using wisely and equitably products, foods, and fuels.  Reduce, reuse, recycle is a familiar mantra of sustainability and permaculture.  Share crops you cannot use, and buy locally grown (or made) products.  Local purchases reduce fuel and lower transportation costs.

Peoplecare  is supporting and helping others to embrace the concept of  'Do No Harm'.  Sharing ways to care for our water resources, soil nutrient, soil erosion, and air pollution are aspects of 'do no harm'.

Earthcare encourages us to design the way nature does - in layers.  Earth is the life source and with that in mind, we must treat it with care.  From micro-organisms in the soil that make nutrients available to plants, food those plants provide, the carbon dioxide the plants absorb, and the oxygen the plants give off to sustain our life - - Yes, Earth is indeed the source of life. 

All of this to say this.... If we put together the right things, in the right place, they will support each other and create harmony in our gardens, and in our lives.  Observe nature, then intervene at the right time.  Do not rush to impose your will. 

I have some planning to do before I redesign my yard.  And my foremost thought is to remember that these changes must be good for the Earth.  And that we are a PART of the Earth, not APART from it.

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