It’s not unusual for me to be inspired by a book. I read quite a few over the course of a month with several going at a time. Many of them are geared to self improvement and becoming better. It makes sense that some of them work. But I have to admit to being a bit surprised when a book about gardening motivated both John and I to take a closer look at our garden, hire a permaculture specialist and consider a complete overhaul of our planting’s.
That is what happened though and as many of you know, I have a tendency to get enthused with new ideas and change. Let me give you some back story!
The week after Christmas we were adding up our Chapters gift cards from John’s talks, my birthday gifts and Christmas presents and realized that we could do some serious shopping! On arrival at the store we were dazzled by the maze of hanging sale signs, discounted Christmas decorations and piles of bargain books. John headed to his favourite section that showcases new and trending reads, and I headed straight for the gardening section immediately being drawn to the biggest book they had on the shelves – Permaculture by Peter Blanc, a textbook of sorts on the philosophy behind ‘permanent culture’.
The pleasure we both get in looking at books is hard to describe. We have a houseful: first editions, award winners, on many topics like health, cooking, business, selfimprovement, productivity, as well as novels, biographies, etc. Bookshelves grace every corner of our home, laying on every side or end table and sitting in bins waiting to be donated.
Getting back home with our brand new stack of books, I immediately set up my ‘reading station’ at the kitchen table, with notepad, stickers and pencil close by, turned on some soothing OM music and dug into my new favourite book.
Most of you are probably like me, knowing a bit about how Permaculture works, working with plants and landscape to create a low maintenance garden, but that was about the extend of my knowledge. Studying the principles behind it, well, I didn’t even know there were principles behind it.
Of the six major principles the first is observation. Well, I fell in love with that one. From a very early age, I loved nothing more than to sit and observe. Mom used to tell me how good a baby I was because I would just sit and look. My love of sitting back and watching continued into childhood, sending sticks flowing down the ditch outside our house in Surrey, to adolescence and being fascinated by behaviour on the playground, to my teen years and skipping school with a friend to sit in front of the Bank of Montreal, downtown Vernon and people watch. As an adult I still enjoy just staring out our window at the birds fighting over the bird feeders or sitting in my garden and counting bees and insects visiting flowers and blossoms. So when I read in the textbook of Permaculture that the first order of business for creating a resilient garden was to observe, I knew I was all in.
My goal is to monitor sun movement, how the wind moves with the garden and yard, where water pools or doesn’t and where the property is higher and where it is lower. In other words, I have to watch my garden and everything that impacts it, observing its natural ebbs and flows with light, precipitation and wildlife. Could anything sound better? I think not! I even have permission to sit in spots around the property to find the best places for human relaxation!! Can we say perfect or what?
The result of all this enthusiasm is that John and I are revamping our entire yard. Putting on hold the idea of moving to a larger piece of property and turning our 1/3 of an acre into a food forest that is healthy and sustainable so we will still be able to head up island on weekends to relax on the beach.
It’s a journey both of us, not just me this time, are excited and engaged in. It’s kind of like a pre retirement project to do while we are still fit and able so when we aren’t so fit and able, the garden will still provide us with sustenance.
I’m hoping to share our journey. Feel free to join us. Growing food is always better when you get to share!