Twelve Principles for twelve months – February – Edge effect

Throughout 2015 I will be looking at Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Principles. I have allocated one principle per month at random. I will aim to find a relevant image, some quotations around the subject, some possible applications and a challenge for myself that relates to the principle and the Permaculture activity I am involved in at that time. February – Edge effect

imageThis image shows how materials collect where one material meets another and an edge is created. Here fallen leaves accumulate along a kerb. This principle could be applied in a garden, for example to capture materials alongside the edges of a raised bed and add beneficial nutrients to the soil.

QUOTATIONS

“Edges are places of varied ecology as they share resources between two distinct ecosystems and are known as a net and sieve for energy. We can increase the yield of the system by manipulating where two ecosystems meet, and designing in their unique species. Here the patterns of nature merge to utilize their inspiration with our creativity.” Bill Mollison. ‘Introduction to Permaculture’

“Edges themselves are often very diverse. Many of the species from both ecosystems live there together with some that live only on the edge, giving more species diversity than the interior of either ecosystem.”                                                                                    Patrick Whitefield. ‘The Earth Care Manual’

When we are in the edge between illness and health, and on the road to recovery, we can use our wellness to create more wellness… There is a familiar pattern of trying to step out of the edge too quickly and thinking we are well again, doing too much and then relapsing. This edge period needs to contain a balance of relaxation and activity. There are advantages of staying in the edge, it is a good place to take time to reassess and create new patterns, and to make sure that wellness can really take root in our lives.           Looby Macnamara For Permaculture magazine 

APPLICATIONS To create a successful garden pond, it is important to consider the edges. A pond with straight vertical sides will be uninviting to wildlife. Whereas a pond with gently curving undulating edges and a variety of depths will create niches suitable for a multitude of life forms to inhabit.

Keyhole and mandala gardens are much used in Permaculture. Garden beds in these shapes provide easy access and produce many different spaces suited to different plants. Curved edges are more pleasing to the eye than straight edges and they follow nature more closely too. something we always try to do in permaculture. Personally I have found it challenging to fit curved beds into my garden as it is narrow and long, but I certainly like the theory behind the idea.

CHALLENGE I am going to use the edges of my day to be as productive as possible. I plan to use early mornings and the few hours between the kids going to sleep and my own bedtime for exercise and diploma work. These quiet moments are currently under used parts of my day and they have the benefit of providing time for me to be alone. My brain is most active early in the morning, so it’s a great time to write to-do lists and make plans. I also find that I have good ideas whilst running, particularly at dusk as my mind is concentrated on the task at hand and the general brain-chatter is silenced. However I must remember to write down my ideas as soon as I arrive home before the daily chaos rushes in again.

Another challenge for this month is to push myself to the edge of my comfort zone. When you stretch yourself, important things can happen. When you run a little faster or further than you are really comfortable with, something amazing happens, you get fitter! Likewise when you take on an uncomfortable challenge, such as attending a scary meeting or daring to speak up against an opinionated friend, you find new strength and confidence in your own abilities.

Another thing I want to do is try to overlap some of the projects that I am working on to create new edges. Lots of my activity has areas in common, such as the outdoor playgroup and Forest schools training. Both are involved in helping children engage with nature. So rather than keeping these parts of my life apart, I hope to ‘Integrate rather than segregate’ and join up my thinking. I hope this will make my life easier and create new abundant edges, sparking off new ideas and creative ways of working.

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The Lost Gardens of Heligan Cornwall

We had a fantastic day at The Lost gardens of Heligan. I had read a couple of books about these gardens. They were abandoned for many years and became overgrown and like a jungle! It must have been so exciting for the garden restorers to hack their way into the undergrowth and rediscover old paths, fallen down greenhouses and wonderful planting. The gentle Cornish climate and the unique aspect of the site makes it suitable for semi-tropical plants, so it really feels like another world. I was very impressed with the outdoor education facilities. We spend a fun few hours constructing elaborate dens out of ropes, branches and tarpaulins. So much fun, especially when it briefly rained and we took shelter in our dens to eat lunch. The kids will always remember that adventurous pack up! The walled productive gardens were something special. Every fruit, vegetable and herb imaginable planted out in the longest rows I have ever seen. It looked beautiful.

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There was lots of plants, flowers and sculptures. You got a map and compass at the beginning to help you find treasure. There was also a vegetable garden that grew lots of vegetables in long long rows. My mummy loved it there. There were two sculptures and one of them was a face and another was a person lying down and they both looked really weird! They were made out of stone, plants and rocks. I quite liked the look of them.    Miss E age 8 

We build an amazing den and ate our packed lunch in it while it was raining. We walked over a high up bridge. It was high and a bit scary.                                                        Miss C age 4 

I spilt a whole bottle of water over myself in the vegetable garden so we had to go home  Master S age 1