The Path of Potential Progression

Designing and Creating the Rainbow Serpent Permaculture Garden 2013

This post has been a long time coming, but with starting a small business course and teaching Permaculture Design Courses, I haven't had all the time in the world. There is a big lesson of my own progression at the moment, which is slowing down in order to give my focus and attention properly to things. At the moment my focus is the Permaculture Design Courses (PDC's) and the students and their learning is my priority.

Anyway, I applied to design and implement the Rainbow Serpent Permaculture Garden in 2012, and when I was accepted my ideas changed drastically. At first I wanted to build hexagon raised beds to give a focus to bees and colony collapse disorder (CCD). This proved to be difficult due to the amount of soil that would need to be moved, the timber and the set up at Rainbow.
It is hard to create a 'Permaculture' garden at the site, as Permaculture is heavily reliant on design, and designing with the considerations of sectors (sun, wind, rain etc).  Given the site, I only had so much to work with and I was also unsure as to how long the design could last. If the garden was to be left at the site, it would need a pretty intensive Permaculture design to actually keep it living in the arid lands near Lexton, Vic!

One night I sat with my book on patterns and mazes, and my inspiration came from a picture of a celtic maze. I then started drawing sketches and mind-maps and eventually came up with this:

This was my Garden Proposal, which explains how the garden would be laid out, what materials would be used, and the effects that would be created:

Garden information and proposal:
The garden will work within a 10m diameter, and will consist of a herb spiral in the centre, which is a common Permaculture feature. This illustrates a very basic idea, is easy to maintain and beautiful. Around the Herb Spiral will be 3 sets of hay bales, arranged into triangular setting areas which will have gardens within them. This gives more of an interactive use of the space where people can sit and appreciate the design and the plants.
Around these central features there will be a maze for people to walk around, framing the garden itself and giving a symbolic element to the space. This maze will be sectioned off with corrugated tin or hay bales so that people notice it is a separate and interactive space, and do not step on the plants! The maze itself will be dug into the ground shallowly and filled with coir fibre, which retains moisture, mulch, and grains such as rye, oats and clover. When watered these grains will sprout, giving rise to a living labyrinth! Around the sprouts stripes of LED lighting will be placed, so the sprouts are illuminated at night and the space becomes attractive in the darkness as well as light.
At each node of the maze there will be wooden signs explaining what Permaculture is, how it is used, and some interesting design techniques people can use.
This approach to the garden will be quite cost effective, easy to manage, the materials will be easy to transport and it will be aesthetically beautiful. 

The Path of Potential Progression:

Throughout history, labyrinths and mazes have been used to symbolize journeys taken, progression, expansion and rebirth. As the path of the maze is walked, we shed our symbolic skin and regenerate ourselves in readiness for a new paradigm.
The 2013 Rainbow Serpent Permaculture Garden is an interactive environment that invites the community to walk between the sprouted perimeters, planting metaphoric seeds of transformation as they do.  
This is a space which aims to recharge, relax and inspire those that take the time to form a relationship with the very plants and processes which nourish and sustain us.
Take the journey, read the signs and bask in the intricate, harmonious and chaotic beauty that is nature!

I had to make 3 trips to the site of Rainbow Serpent, and the first one required DIGGING! My little car was packed to the brim with tools and mulch and my two friends Tim Handley and John Down, who accompanied me to help with the digging. Many hands make light work! What a beautiful thing. We measured out the area using simple tools of a Permaculturist, a mesauring tap, some stakes and a piece of string. Let the digging begin! We dug for hours, listening to music in our little headphone worlds and stopping for picnic breaks to keep our energy up. I fed the lads organic pineapple to keep them happy.
After filling the dug out maze ditches, we filled them with coir fibre and mulch and an epic amount of sunflower seeds! Butterflies were landing on the watered in seeds, birds came to feed- we had already began creating a little lush wonderland!
We left the seeds for a week to sprout (with someone watering them everyday).
Arriving 3 days before the festival started, allowing time for error, I got to work instantly with my friend Justine Walsh. I got stuck into the garden with such vigor and enthusiasm that I would forget to take breaks to eat! After digging in the plants (beautiful chillies, globe artichokes, tomatoes and my favourite pretty perennial 'globe thistle'), hammering in the posts, screwing in the signs, setting the haybales around the area for seating, getting the soil delivery, bending the tin (so it formed a lip for OH & S reasons- Don't want some rainbow attendee to 'trip' and hurt themselves on jaggered tin, do we?!), hammering and stacking the tin into a spiral shape, planting the spiral (lush mint, dill, oregano, white flowering creeping thyme, sage, rosemary and basil), hooking up and digging in the lighting and watering everything many times (with the help of an adorable little boy from the solar cinema!) It was finally Friday and I was finally ready to join the festivities!
I was dizzy and exhausted, but it was all so worth it to walk past the garden and watch people as they read the signs and walked the paths... it was so worth it to have people say 'oh did you create that garden? its so beautiful!' or 'This is the best thing I have seen at this fetival!' or 'wow this is what is missing from festivals!'. Not many things have the ability to make me feel like those comments did.

Thank you to everyone for your support and love throughtout this hectic time for me.

I am looking forward to expanding upon this idea and giving the Rainbow Serpent 2014 Garden many weeks of my time, love and energy that will blow people away and inspire others to appreciate the plants that nourish us!
Keep watching this space for more ideas and musings of the 2014 Garden.


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