Meg’s Monthly Musings – Sep 2023

Megs fenced garden

Bill Mollison believed that it wasn’t the number of things in a system that mattered, but the relationships between them. In a garden this means applying the principle of “relative location” and grouping things together based upon their use, energy requirements and mutual benefits. One of the easiest ways to understand this principle is to think about the best location for a clothesline. It needs to be in relationship with the access to the laundry, and with sunshine and fresh air. You might also plant things under it that you harvest regularly to save time and energy (because you were going to the clothesline anyway) and because hanging clothes in summer will help to give the garden a bit of shade. We did this at our place, and the clothesline garden was my first step in creating a huge permaculture system.

In food gardens we use zones to make sure that those things needing daily attention are closer to the house, but our recent installation of the gathering circle taught me a valuable lesson. Plants live in relationship with sunshine and when you have a part of the garden with better growing conditions it’s worth a little extra effort to walk there. While my clothesline garden was a great first plot and the source of many lessons, it’s clear that a lot of the problems I faced growing legumes were entirely related to sunlight. The “start at your back door” mantra needs a rethink. I now teach students to design forwards instead of backwards. Learn about your site and microclimates first and then choose plants that will thrive. Don’t do this the other way around.

Organisations are, I think, a lot like gardens. We have all put a lot of work into shifting Permaculture Central Coast from the traditional dendritic pattern to a network with all kinds of connections. The volunteers that step up to help run our group are as diverse as any garden and we all exist in relationship to each other.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the hidden talents of so many of our wonderful members. As the regional events coordinator I’m here to help you. Would you like to offer a workshop or give some kind of presentation? Do you have a skill to share? I can help you by setting up an event and promoting it for you. I just need a good photo, a description, and then the usual check list: times, day, date, location and what you’d like to charge. Please contact me at or via messenger if you would like more information.

One of the most beautiful natural patterns is known as the albedo effect; it describes the way light bounces off shiny leaves. It’s the reason that plants on the floor of a forest can still photosynthesise. Tall trees take as much sunlight as they need and then bounce the excess around to other plants. They share the energy! That’s a pretty good analogy for what we have been co-creating with Permaculture Central Coast. I believe that everyone has a bit of sunshine worth sharing. Let me know if you would like my help to share it.