Lessons You Can Learn from Your Surroundings & Apply in Your Garden

Nature can teach us many lessons, both as gardeners and in general in our daily lives. In permaculture, we take the lessons we can learn from the natural world and apply them in a range of ways in our gardens. By working in harmony with nature, we can create rich and abundant ecosystems that can deliver food for ourselves and our families, and a whole host of other useful things. Below you will find a brief discussion of three of the major lessons you can learn from your surroundings and apply in your garden.

ForestLearning from Forests – A Self Sustaining System

Forests are one of the most successful and diverse types of ecosystem on our planet. We can learn from the ways in which the various plant and animal elements that make up a forest work together to create a fully-functioning ecosystem. By mimicking the forest ecosystem, we can create abundant and beautiful gardens which can sustain us while also taking care of nature and our planet. Forest gardens are one way in which permaculture gardeners can create sustainable food growing systems.

Edge effectLearning from Habitats – The Edge Principle

Another lesson that we can learn from the natural world is that the edges where two ecosystems join (such as a forest edge, or a water's edge) are the most diverse habitats. In a permaculture garden, we can take advantage of this edge principle to create productive growing areas along the edges of garden beds, or around the fringes of a forest garden. Maximising edge and valuing the marginal is one of the key principles of permaculture garden design.

Romanesco broccoli spiralLearning from Nature's Patterns – Designing from Patterns to Details

BranchingAnother key permaculture principle is that we should design from patterns to details. We should always start from the 'big picture' in our gardens before working out the tiny details of which seeds to sow or plants to place where. Patterns are everywhere in nature and we can use those patterns to help inform our garden designs. We can learn from the ways in which wind and water flow through landscapes, and mimic natural patterns such as the spiral, or the branching pattern of a tree or a plant's roots. Mimicking pattern can often serve practical purposes, as well as an aesthetic one.

Nature's wonders can inspire gardeners in a range of different ways. Perhaps the lessons you can learn from your surroundings will help you to create your own dream garden.