I'm not very arty, to put it mildly. But I'm fascinated with patterns in nature, and the way certain patterns form in relation to function. Like the way rivers will drain an area of land, or the veins of a leaf will form a similar pattern - I've seen exactly the same pattern in the local paths around my village in Portugal, which will go to every little patch of land and back again but never form a true network. The pattern was totally different in the UK where the paths would interconnect and criss-cross. I love the way the arrangement and shape of the cells on a honeycomb will naturally form a regular array of hexagons, like amazingly neat and tidy bubbles. And they way spots and stripes form on wild animals - I'm sure there's something to be learned about that which could be applied to the way we make our plantings. But I've never really got my head around patterns well enough to apply them to my permaculture design, and most discussion about it tends to get too arty for my taste.
Toby - could you give me a few pointers on how to develop my pattern appreciation along permaculture lines?
One way to understand patterns is to look at the patterns in nature around you--the veins on a leaf, the scales on a lizard, the bark on a tree--and try to figure out why that pattern, and what it is doing. There are also great books on patterns, although not too many on their function (I am working on a book on patterning from a permaculture perspective). "Patterns in Nature" by Peter Stevens, "The Se;f Made Tapestry" and some other books by Philip Ball, and of course, Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander. But just asking "why that pattern?" whenever you see one will go a long way.
Here is a pattern that I look at most of the day (it is 6" from my monitor). It is the bottom of a rubber tree leaf.
I am seriously considering this pattern for my garden. Although I am also considering a keyhole pattern.
Some things I have noticed about the design:
1. Some of the side veins are mirrored on the other half of the leaf, some of them are not perfect mirrors.
2. Near the edge of the leaf, each major radiating vein joins the tip of the next one.
3. In between the major radiating veins is a network of tiny veins
That leaf is gorgeous! I can see how that would make a beautiful pattern for a garden. I was actually thinking the same thing before I got to the end of your post. If you ever get the garden done I would love to see pics!
I'm really getting into sacred geometry/fractals and their linkages to patterning food forests. I learn information that is very hard to articulate rationally by looking at these patterns. Watch this video and you'll see what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_nfHY61T-U&feature=related
"To oppose something is to maintain it" -- Ursula LeGuin
This is about maybe an entirley different approach to pattern formation, or is it the same? My garden is fairly large - about 15,000 square feet, and it is surrounded on all sides except the side our house is on by a very high quality undisturbed natural forest. The lot itself was wiped clean by the previous owner when they built the house not too long ago so when we arrived on the scene it was in the very early stages of succession - in other words it was covered with weeds up to 8 feet tall, patches of grass here and there, and patches of dry hot sand. We have decided to plant a food forest. First we put in almost all of the trees, and they were spread out in accordance with their eventual size, and shade requirements. Now I'm installing shrubs, mulch plants, legumes, and eventually all the other types of guild plants that permaculture calls for. Most of the plants are being put in places where it's easier to plant them - that is, where the sand was already bare. Funny thing happened this morning while I was planting pigeon pea and lamb's quarters - the garden pattern began to take shape organically! It was as if it made itself happen and I was only there to provide the labor. It sounds kind of crazy I know. But the main pathways through the forest are beginning to form, and eventually I will have the opportunity to insert the keyhole beds, etc in the appropriate places when those spots are revealed to me! The funny thing is, it's starting to look a lot like the leaf photo above. Can anybody tell I'm having fun?
Certifiable food forest gardener, free gardening advice offered and accepted. Permaculture is the intersection of environmentalsim and agriculture.
Burra, It sounds like you are cut out to be an artist to me. I graduated with an art degree, and most of the artists I have met are simply people who become completely fascinated with something, relentlessly. They explore things over and over from many different angles and often with many different techniques. You obviously have great powers of observation. Just keep observing and trying, let things come out in your own way, it doesn't have to be "artsy". Whatever feels right, and works for you is true art. In my opinion anything you make or design can be art, and function, whether anyone else thinks so or not. Hopefully that wasn't to artsy of an answer for you, haha. Good luck!
Christopher Alexander's "A Pattern Language" is specifically about patterns for building houses and villiages. "The Nature of Order" series is about natural patterns in general and how they apply to design.
upon following the link i found this: "What was fascinating was that the fish’s sculpture played another role. Through experiments back at their lab, the scientists showed that the grooves and ridges of the sculpture helped neutralize currents, protecting the eggs from being tossed around and potentially exposing them to predators."
possibly a good outlying design to surround a heat trap or paul's tefa idea?
i realise its not under water but if it neutralizes water currents then i would say there is potential to neutralize air currants as well, simply amazing