Diploma Portfolio : 09 School House Garden Design


“Applying permaculture to a nearly one acre garden” 2018

Context and Aim: This beautiful garden with nooks and crannies, woodland, wild areas, lawn, a pond, herbaceous borders, a little fruit, a few vegetables… The owners asked me to do a design that would fit with permaculture ideas.
Framework: SADIMET
Tools: Base maps, Overlays, Zones, Sector analysis, Client Interview, PASTE*, Microclimates, Soil analysis, Random assembly, McHarg’s Exclusion model.
Principles: Mollison
Key successes: Huge learning in identifying plants and trees. Building on what I’d done with overlays in other projects was magnified in this design. it was helpful to see the scale – this was probably the maximum size I’d do on regular (A1) paper. Counting brought into stark reality the things that already existed eg water available, counting the holly trees etc. This made a big impact on how I designed and thought about the opportunity for yields across the site.
Key challenges and how they were overcome: Very little of the design was implemented in reality, which meant we couldn’t see how it worked in practice. However, hopefully in time, some of it will be put in. There were small wins eg broad beans, tall peas and mange tout in the flowerbeds.
Evaluation: The design ideas produced were ambitious and unrealistic for a couple in their 70s. However the purpose of the design was for them to see how they might see the garden from a more permaculture perspective and to see what ideas it might spark for them as a result. This was achieved and in the intervening years they’ve added a raised bed with veg growing in it, cut back trees to allow more light in and been generally much more conscious of the ethics of permaculture.
Reflection: SADIMET was a really good process to use in this garden context. Working on paper with tracing paper overlays was so useful and easy. Although the extent of mapping the whole garden was a lengthy procedure it did mean I had to push myself on plant identification.

Lawn And Pond

Lawn and pond


Base Map

Map showing key permanent structures



Mainly supplied on paper including an A1 basemap with overlays that included mapping the plants and ideas sheets. These are really difficult to photograph and share so this is the word document version but the paper references it refers to aren’t included.