Radicle Routes

"Observe Nature thoroughly rather than labour thoughtlessly"

Observation is the key to successful design.




One of my favorite aspects of permaculture design is pattern recognition. Once you start to recognize a few patterns you begin to see them in everything. From the branching of a tree to the relationships between people… everything tends to follow a pattern.

Life begins with an event. An explosion. Upwards and outwards, life reaches and flows into it’s space. Displacing the substance around it and knitting itself into its existence.


Not everything in nature exists in exactly the same pattern. Much of that pattern is a result of circumstance, purpose or required end result. A flower blossoms to attract pollinators so that its line may live on and flourish. A tree pumps water from a subterranean world of infinite complexity, hydrating the air, forming clouds that carry rain to other trees…. re-hydrating the landscape…. replenishing aquifers.

I am trying to paint a picture of patterns in your head with wide brush strokes so that as we begin to explore deign, you may begin to identify the relevant and discard the irrelevant. When we begin to design, it is imperative that we design with purpose,  with direction, flow and a desired result or effect in mind.

As in previous posts, we discussed the necessity to think about where water will come from before planting a tree. Recognising pattern takes that a step further. Pattern increases the ability to ‘stack’ functions… or reticulate flow. Water flows down, but did you know that it is actually trying to move in a circle? It is a result of gravity that water seems to ‘snake’ across a landscape. Always trying to climb, it is forced back towards the center of the earth with everything resisting its progress along the way.

Let’s explore what this means…

Instead of simply letting water run off our landscapes, we can cause infiltration. When we stop water, making it pool and hesitate on it’s busy journey, using a swale for instance. Forcing water to pause along a slope instead of rush to the bottom increases it’s availability to life. Where water  is halted, sediment is collected, animals gather to drink, nutrients and seeds are left in exchange and growth results. The results are not only immediate, but ongoing. An upward spiral.

“Observe Nature thoroughly rather than labour thoughtlessly”
Masanoby Fukuoka ‘One Straw Revolution’

The web develops…

When water events ( such as rain, snow… the dreaded hail… shudder..) that persist to breach the swale can be designed into the downhill wall to allow reticulation throughout the entire landscape. Combined with good ground cover or mulch, water is saved… rationed… used as needed by the roots hidden below.

The flow of nutrients begins to take shape as a web…weaving throughout the web of living organisms… beginning and ending with water