Design overviews

The dyslexic way of creating permaculture documentation


The main purpose of this design is to create a systematic way for documenting and presenting my designs in a way that is easy and achievable for me. Being dyslexic and having a phobia about formally writing anything, I really struggle with documenting my designs in a structured and formally presentable way. Presenting documentation to clients I find easy, as there is a real goal, I know what they want and what they need, so I can easily structure the documentation for them, but making generic documentation for an unknown people is totally daunting and has become a huge phobia. When writing, it often takes hours for me to be happy with one paragraph, so at the outset it feels like it would take me a lifetime to write down my thoughts and designs in a way that I feel would be acceptable. This to me feels like it would be a huge drain on my energy and a waste of my time as it will stop me from doing the work I enjoy. It would be work that I will hate doing and therefore I have no intention of doing.

So while creating formal documentation of my work seems like an impossible task for me, I realise that I do have a lot of documentation, and for my clients I find it easy to make maps and lists and present design by verbally explaining them, while using the printed materials as props and aids. Looking through the wealth of material I have for the 60+ designs that I have made, I realise they are in a bespoke format, i.e. I have created whatever documentation was needed for each design in a format that was necessary to make the design reality (which means they are not in a formal or structured format). So this design is to see how I can take this bespoke material and present it in a way that is acceptable for others to be inspired and to learn from.

NB: Just writing this simple paragraph has taken 2 hours and feels very frustrating that I have wasted 2 hours of my life which could have been spent so much more productively. And to be honest I am not happy with this paragraph, but out of frustration I have decided not to edit it any more.

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Talbot Gardens Urban Forest Garden


This project is to design the garden of the house that I grew up in. We moved out of this house in winter 1989. My parents moved to the house next door, and I moved out of the neighbourhood. Since then the property has been rented out to various tenants. No tenant ever looked after the garden, and given that summer was the busiest time of year for our family business we had to pay someone to manage the garden, which in reality was someone coming in 3 or 4 times a year to cut the grass and chop down everything that was not a tree down to bare soil.

When I finally had the time to manage the garden, the tenants would not let me enter the garden, so I had to wait until Autumn 2011 when the tenants moved out. This design shows how and why I decided to turn this garden into a low maintenance forest garden.

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Talbot Gardens Family Permaculture Garden


This design was made when my father was still alive. It was for him and my mother, both of whom loved gardening, but were getting too old to dig and manage a garden. So the main goal was to see how to design "work" out of the food growing process. Or in other words, how to make the garden truly low maintenance. At the time, I knew I was only ever going to be able to work on the garden 5 to 10 days a year (to make and to manage), so that was also a major consideration. My parents also loved nature, watching birds and insects in the garden, so that made it very easy to design as a permaculture garden.

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Conserving Water In a House without replumbing


This design looks at conserving water usage in a small flat in central London where we are not able to do any plumbing work. The plumbing is part of the building and cannot be altered without permission. So this design looks at how to create an easy system to catch water that is normally wasted and reuse it in an appropriate way. Designs like this are interesting to me as they may be small in scope, but the implications of this design are quite far reaching. I have included it here to show that permaculture does not need to be a huge grand scale project, but its tools and principles can be used in almost any environment.


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Urban front garden


Like most front gardens in suburbia, this front garden was paved over to allow cars to park (back in the day when we used to have 2 or more cars). Now that no one owns a car in the house it would be great to bring some colour and life back to the garden. It would also be good to share with the neighbours as there is not much community spirit in this street (unlike back in the 70's when we knew almost everyone).



Choosing a methodology

The majority of my designs utilise the SADIM methodology, which I find flexible and robust enough for any job. But occasionally I like to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. So having struggled with OBERDIM before, I thought I would have another go and see if I can make the methodology work.


Working through the methodology



Key points from the observation are how lifeless the site currently is. It is also exposed to wind and only post midday sun.

06 TGFG 1 observe-xm

Read more: Urban front garden


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