Patrick Whitefield was capable to undergo this work of revisiting his previous work: the living landscape, in a superb way. Patrick left us in 2015 and this will be his last work and maybe most personal. The book is a recollection of twenty and more years of observation of the Uk landscape. Patrick explains how whole landscapes, including woodland, grassland and moorland, fit together and function as a whole. He delves in depth on specific aspects as wild animals signs, and tree shapes, rocks and soil types. Patrick takes us in a walk through history explaining how the landscape has changed in the centuries depending on its use, from roman times, to enclosed land and industrial agricultrue. This is a book that helps the casual pleasure walker, the birdwatcher, or the permaculture designer understand the natural ecosystem.
In permaculture design we need tools that help us, guide us, through a complex world of natural interactions, this is the book. Of course it's based on the specific landscape of UK, but it's universal if read in a correct way. Its not only about what actually we see walking down a countryside path in Dorset, it's about having the tools to understand what we see, and those tools once we master them are useful anywhere.
Patrick takes us in a journey, where we feel his gentle voice point out the small detail and large overall view. This is a sort of book that should find authors for other regions and climates, unique in its kind, that only a man like Patrick could have thought of writing. It's a testimony to his lifelong work of observation, study, and passion.
I must admit I read the previous edition of the book, the living landscape. When I saw this title coming out, I wrote to Patrick Whitefield wanting to know about this new work, he very honestly, how could not have been, told me it was a new revised version of the living landscape, new photographs, and some new text, etc. The overall outline was the same. Nevertheless I eventually ordered the book, it's a passion mostly.
Anyway memories a part, this book is a great read, really. I don't know if there are other works like this on landscape observation, maybe there are but surely not in a permaculture perspective. I know only of Oliver Rackam's book, Ancient woodland, that has great observational view but of a specific landscape: woodlands in the UK.
Patrick Whitefield instead did a complete work covering all the biomes, and extensively putting together his knowledge on how to read what plants tell us about the ecosystem they grow in.
One of the best points in the book are the informations on how seeing weeds and grasses in a field we can understand what soil we're walking on. The chapter on the history of land usage in the past centuries is fantastic.
I must say this book opened my eyes ono what pioneer species are, on what succession is, and on how to note the small differences one gets a glimpse of while walking in the countryside.
I'll never finsh repeating that it is true the book is about the landscape in the UK, but the tools Patrick passes to the reader are universal and can be applied anywhere.
I live in Italy, similar maybe in some regions as for climate, but we're not on an island, has this mattered? has the book left me less? absolutely no, it has made my perception grow, and actually reading it got me more involved in permaculture.
It focuses on something we always speak about obersvation of the natural ecosystem, but it shares insight, tools, intuitions that any permaculture designer should grow. This is one of those books that get out mind fertility growing.
Thank You Patrick for having shared your lifelong knowledge with us, this is care for people, and you practiced it until the end.
May your path continue wherever it has taken you.