Permaculture aims to design sustainable habitats for people, plants and wildlife. Permaculture designer Kayode Olafimihan explains the ecological vision for the garden as:
‘The planting is designed to create plant alliances that mimic natural eco-systems. Their foundation is a community of perennials in which each plant contributes something that the soil, the soil-food-web and the other plants need. Together they build fertile soil, attract pollinators and beneficial insects while providing an array of foods, flowers and herbs as well as creating a diversity of wildlife habitats.’
The entrance garden plant community builds fertile soil, attracts pollinators and insect pest predators and provides an array of foods, flowers and herbs while creating a wildlife habitat.
Nitrogen fixers: take nitrogen from the air and feed it to the soil-food-web and to other plants. eg: birdsfoot trefoil, white clover, broom
Living Mulch/Green Manure: provide compost-on-the-spot. They also suppress weeds, help the soil retain moisture and build fertility as they decompose. eg strawberry, clover, comfrey
Nutrient Catchers: these dynamic mineral accumulators have long tap roots that bring minerals from deep in the soil to the surface where other plants can eat them. eg comfrey, borage, chicory
Insect Attractors: lure bees and other pollinating insects. They also provide food or shelter for beneficial insect pest predators. eg borage, dill, lavender, calendula, geranium, honeysuckle, basil, chives, bergamot
This plant community can only thrive when it is living with, and interacting with healthy soil. Vigorous soil is teeming with beneficial microbes, fungi and insects along with the plants. They form a community where, as they live, feed and die, they all provide food and energy for each other.
The foundation of this web of life are the decomposers: beneficial bacteria and fungi that act as natural fertilisers for the plants who in return feed them with sugars and proteins from their roots. A well maintained soil-food-web improves soil structure, moisture retention and also helps keep pests and diseases at bay.