The too-hard basket seems often applied to fledgling aspirations of creating bountiful gardens in rental or strata title properties. Which is really quite understandable, in some ways. To succeed in such ventures one needs to effectively communicate with (sometimes dubious) landlords and fellow residents, which is no small thing.
Recently, though, we came across Lucinda’s garden, which is a beautiful example of such communications gone right. A small space, strata-title, yeehar permaculture garden in the heart of northern Sydney.
Lucinda owns a low-rise apartment which is within a block of perhaps 8 dwellings. You probably know the type – lots of garages and big driveways that lead off to little brick boxes where people live: the fronts of the apartments look squeaky clean and the back patios tend to be, shall we say, underutilized as true living space.
I’ve not had much experience with the ‘body corporate’ aspect of owning a strata title, but from the grumblings of multiple friends who have, i get the idea that negotiating any sort of change, especially aesthetic change to one’s apartment, can be a long-winded process.
Lucinda has been chip-chip-chipping at her strata’s body corporate for about 3 years now; to allow her to plant a little something here, plant a little there, install a water tank down the side, put in a pergola, replace that hedge with something just as attractive but also edible, and so on. You get the idea. Permaculture by attrition.
I think the bit-by-bit approach embodied here just might be (while being frustrating for Lucinda) the reason why, after only a couple of years, this garden is so wonderful. Lots of protracted thought and small spurts of (approved) action. Lots of planning and designing followed by occasional and long-awaited implementation.
The results here speak for themselves. Maybe strata-title does have its up sides?
Visiting Lucinda’s home made me think about small space gardening (as opposed to very large space gardening, which we’re struggling with at Milkwood). The advantages of small are huge. You can fold space and time intricately into any permaculture design, but on a small level the possibilities seem greater than on a farm-scale, sometimes.
When you look out across a field, you seldom consider the full potential of the first square foot of earth directly in front of you. But in a small space, every edge and wall and square foot could be so many things….
As i explored Lucinda’s garden a whole bunch of Holmgren’s design principles kept popping into my head: use slow small solutions / value the edge / design from pattern to detail.
There’s so much fitted in here! Ponds and a mini food-forest and keyhole gardens and vertical gardens and trellis systems and on it goes. wow.
So i thought i’d share some photos as a bit of spring inspiration – this is what the poorly-favored scruffy patches around the sides of apartment blocks could look like in Sydney with a bit of love, care and good design.
Despite allowing for committees and regulations and permissions (and having a full-time job), you too could be growing tamarillos and pawpaw and vegies aplenty like Lucinda in that sad and sorry strip down the side. Happy planting!