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Guest Editorial: Alrie Middlebroook of Middlebrook Garden




Retain rainfall on site by recycling, retention and conservation. Water storage, cisterns, attaching downspout water and diverting it to landscaped areas, creating rain gardens, designing and building living roofs and capturing rainfall for fountain and pond use are conservative solutions. Design garden elements to slow water's flow.
Photos courtesy of Middlebrook Gardens
Firestone
Teak Warehouse Bollard Solutions
EnviroGLAS Distefano
John Deere

"When we were kids, we'd trip over an ant hill and then watch in wonder as the ant colony tried desperately to reconstruct it's home. I'd sit for a long time, observing ants, while they tried to recover. Have you ever thought about what parallels there are between an ant colony and a human colony?

When we see ants, it's sometimes difficult to tell their hills and mounds from the natural landscape. When we fly over a city, it's very obvious how much the human colony stands out from a natural landscape. In fact, except for the occasional park with a natural river running through it, everything in a human colony has been altered and disturbed including the designed landscapes.




Originist design does not alter the natural landscape, it blends in so as not to impact the site's environmental quality, yet, the selection of plants can be consistent with the architectual style of the building. Originist gardens have style and panache. It is not necessary to compromise aesthetics for optimum sustainability.

I am a landscape designer who is a practitioner of The Originist Landscape Movement.The mission of this movement is to create beautiful and botanically diverse native gardens, utilizing the principle of succession and return soil systems as close to their pre-disturbed, native state as quickly and efficiently as possible. Ultimately, if more professionals embraced this mission, within a century or two , a human colony would be so well integrated into the natural landscape that , as with the ant, it would be difficult to recognize the colony from nature.

Now, you are probably laughing and asking, what are you proposing, that we go back to 'Wild Nature' before agriculture was practiced??




Edible seasonal plants such as the elderberry seen here can be grown in containers or raised beds with drip irrigation. Composting keeps food production vigorous and plentiful with less artificial inputs.

On the contrary, I am advocating that we utilize science, and science based technology derived from sound ecological principles to practice our highest quality of life and disturb nature minimally in the process. In addition to the mission statement, here are a few of the tenets embraced by Originist Practitioners.

  • Disturb soils at new construction sites minimally. Eliminate compaction and cut and fill practices. Avoid heavy equipment. Remember soil is a living medium, especially the top 6 " of soil. Disturbed and unprotected soils increase air pollution, adversely affect water and air quality and inhibit the soil's ability to sustain life on the Earth. Where soils are disturbed and compromised, they should quickly be covered with a thick layer (3-6") of organic mulch.
  • Design, create and manage native gardens according to the local and regional plant communities of the site.
  • Prior to creating a native garden which utilizes the plant community approach, remove all invasive species from the site. As long as invasives are present, the soil chemistry and ultimate soil health will be compromised.
  • Originist design does not alter the natural landscape, it blends in so as not to impact the site's environmental quality, yet, the selection of plants can be consistent with the architectual style of the building. Originist gardens have style and panache. It is not necessary to compromise aesthetics for optimum sustainability.
  • Moving water that trickles not gushes and remains on the property and does not flow to a storm drain is an element in every project.
  • Power to operate gates, fountains, and lighting is not fossil fuel derived.
  • Landscapes are under planted, not over planted. The smaller the plant, the healthier the mature plant will become!
  • Landscapes are evaluated for optimum habitat value. Detritus is found on each site and encouraged. Gardens are planted to support and increase native bee species diversity and populations.
  • Lawns are replaced with native meadows, ground covers and other habitat friendly native plants.
  • Thick layers of organic material cover all planting areas. (3 to 6 inches) except for exposed soil for native bee nesting sites.
  • Natural materials from local areas or recycled and repurposed hardscape elements like urbanite from the original site are used.
  • Garden structures may be prefabricated, cob, straw-bale, earth sheltered or constructed with recycled, found or bartered materials. Avoid using new wood or new concrete. After the burning of fossil fuels, the manufacture of cement is the number two contributor to global warming.
  • Retain rainfall on site by recycling, retention and conservation. Water storage, cisterns, attaching downspout water and diverting it to landscaped areas, creating rain gardens, designing and building living roofs and capturing rainfall for fountain and pond use are conservative solutions. Design garden elements to slow water's flow.
  • All hardscape elements are porous.
  • Edible seasonal plants are grown in containers or raised beds with drip irrigation. Composting keeps food production vigorous and plentiful with less artificial inputs.
  • Conventional irrigation systems are retrofitted to drip.
  • Native edible plants are a high percentage of any ornamental garden design.

An Originist garden takes about five years to get established. Each garden is unique and requires a detailed management plan. This method of landscaping will reduce labor costs by up to 80 percent, reduce water use by 65 percent, eliminate chemical use, create habitat for wildlife, provide nutritious organic food, including native edibles with minimal disruption to the native Eco-system. By reducing human and/or petro-chemical inputs, the most sustainable solutions are achieved.

Shouldn't human colonies look and function more like nature??

It's up to you!!!

A huge part of your compensation is not landscape design, construction or management services. You are also selling knowledge, specifically an ecological expertise about the Earth's microclimates, how to disrupt them less and preserve them more.

The public is ready for this knowledge.

Are you?


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November 19, 2019, 10:36 pm PDT

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