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It has been said that there is little ill that a walk in the garden cannot help but cure, and indeed a garden can provide much that is essential to our wellbeing, wholesome and nutricious fruit and vegetables being the most obvious. But there are more subtle ways in which a garden serves our needs. We belong to the natural world and are attuned to make sense of it. Shape and form, colour and smell, harmonise naturaly with our senses in a way that streets, parking lots and highrise buildings can never do. Gentle and varied exercise helps keep the body limber and the need for long and thoughtfull observation sharpens the mind.

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Living with Nature in the wild presented our ancestors with a tough challenge and throughout a long history of grappling with the elements and struggling for survival we came to think of ourselves as somehow distinct from the natural world and gradually grew accustomed to living in a physical and mental environment of our own making…..
A garden is a place where we can redress that imbalance.

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Learning through observation and working along with the patterns and tendencies of the natural world, identifying with the processes of growth and seasonal change can help stimulate a fresh sense of belonging, a profound sense of being an intrinsic part of a larger picture.

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Ill health is often the result of mismanagement and systems will eventually break down when they are abused. It is an absolutely basic fact that without an abundance of fertile soil we cannot hope to sustain a comfortable and healthy environment.

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If we so choose, we have the power and means to adjust and attune the environment into assuming its own healthy and balanced state of equilibrium. This is the way of the gardener and it is based in an attitude of perceptive observation followed up by energetic and appropriate action.

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Dryland Gardens- 
The most critical challenge faced by the dryland gardener is clearly and simply, how best to make do with a scant and sparse measure of rainfall, and is both a lesson in economy and an exercise in ingenuity. The rains when they come can be heavy, a blessing if we are prepared but a curse if we are not and a heavy downpour should not give rise to fast flowing streams that cut their way through deepening gullies carrying precious topsoil to the sea. Rather it should leave behind a landscape puddled with standing water slowly seeping into the ground to provide the moisture that enables plants to thrive. We learn to capture and harvest the rainfall through the means of digging an apropriate pattern of simple earth works that interrupt the flow and lead the rainwater to where it is needed. As plants grow, their roots spread down and out, holding the ground from washing away whilst making it more porous and therefore easier for water to infiltrate. The more water that is fed into the ground, the deeper it will soak and remain in storage where its presence will draw down the roots increasing the growth of the plants and resulting in more porosity and holding capacity that is known as ‘sponge structure’.
blueflower1_1-copyOnce the rains have been successfully intercepted and infiltrated by our earthworks we set about ensuring that the hot sun does not draw it back out to evaporate into thin dry thirsty air and this we acheive by covering the ground with whatever organic matter we can lay our hands on. This process of mulching, is essentialy the same in all climates, and adresses differing problems in the same way by simulating the forest floor where living plants are constantly shedding their leaves and seeds, and, as they slowly die off, contribute their dry stems and branches. Animals add their wastes and eventually their bones making for a rich and diverse litter that will slowly work its way down to the vital layer that is the surface of the soil where a riot of beasties and bacteria accelerate the process, breeding, eating and dying in insurance of future fertility as they play out the great drama of decomposition.
It is exactly the breakdown of this process that is the pivot point in the regeneration of drylands. Where there were once trees, there are now deserts and once fertile soils are reducing to sands. So where we have dug our water catchments is where we pile our mulch to reduce evaporation but also to stimulate the vital process of soil building.