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Observation: The key to appropriate design


How do we place design elements where they are happiest, and need the least work from us? Through working with nature by observing.

Take a moment. Sit in your garden, somewhere you don't usually. Just sit. Pay attention. Listen, look, smell. What do you find? Is the ground here a bit wet? Is it really really sunny? A bit windy? what grows here?

By following these simple observations you can more easily place what will naturally work in this spot.

This tactic embodies working with nature rather than against her. First we must sit back and watch. It is a kind of communication. Good communicators speak, but mostly listen. Poor communicators talk over you and force their point of view. This is the industrial agriculture method and it is proving a massive failure (We WILL grow rice here! It doesn't matter that there's no water!)

There is no force required. Nature responds happily to this partnership, and abundance follows.


I notice an area under my deck is protected from wind and rain, receives morning sun, and I pass it every day on the way to the chooks. These are simple direct observations. Following from this data, I form a hypothesis that my seedlings may suit this spot. Next are the trials to prove this to be true or not. I'll start out a tray of seeds here and see how they do. It's possible that they'll get attacked by snails, or something else I don't anticipate. Further observation follows...It's an ongoing conversation.


Sit in your garden every day for a week for 10 minutes. Choose a different spot every day. What do you observe? Take your phone so you can take photos of what grows in each section for identification (but do this later) Now is a time of being with this space and getting to know him or her.

What did you learn? What hypotheses followed?

Till next time,


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