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This Saturday, Michele Fitzsimmons of Edible Landscaping led an introduction to permaculture. In the morning, we learnt about forest gardening, guilds and the basics of incorporating agroforestry techniques in the garden.

We also played a game about the interconnections in the garden. Maggie then introduced the Permaculture Wales network - Paramaethu Cymru.

Having sat down for a fair while, we were ready for some action! So we headed up to the Global Gardens and made a start on creating the mandala.

At Global Gardens there is a small orchard which consists of a number of apple and pear trees of a range of welsh and local varieties. In the space in between these trees we decided to create a garden mandala which could benefit people, pollinators and the site. Drawing upon permaculture principles, our mandala includes a range of plants that have functions including nitrogen fixing, mineral accumulating, pollinator friendly, medicinal and, of course, edible.

Prior to the workshop we dug over the area and forking in some compost. We then had to water it so that it was a welcoming space for the plants.

After forking in a bit more and watering the site, we began to plant the guild. This included nitrogen fixing plants (Clover); medicinal plants (St. John's Wort, Hedge Woundwort and Mugwort); edible crops (Land Cress, Chickweed, Russian Kale and Chard) and fruiting plants Rubus nepalensis and Rubus pentalobus.

Michele helped us think about aspect and long-term growth of the apple trees as we positioned the various plants. We then covered the area with woodchip. To complete the mandala, our plan is to put a bath in the middle for birds, hedgehogs, bees and other insects to drink.

With many thanks to Michele for leading the workshop, the Permaculture Association Wales for making this possible and Riverside Sourdough for the delicious lunch!

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