Hi, my name's Charlie and I live in Hackensack, New Jersey. Instead of going to college when I get out of high school, I plan to do a combination of things; work at a nursery, WOOF, keep my home garden going and build gardens for friends, and visit the greatest gardens in the world.
For the last one I'd like your help in compiling a list of the most impressive, most practical, most beautiful, most intelligently designed gardens in the world. Gardens that have a lesson to teach and are worth the visit. They can be classified as Permaculture or not.
Whether a garden teaches a very important lesson about irrigation, indigenous culture, or practicality, it may be worth traveling from far away to see. It is especially important for me to see these places before air travel inevitably comes out of the reach of the common people sometime in the future. What gardens would you visit if you could visit any?
I'm not sure what the criteria for a "best is the world" garden are, but I've found the Alan Chadwick Garden here in Santa Cruz on the University of California campus to be quite inspirational. (Though I haven't worked there.)
Alan Chadwick (now dead) deserves much more recognition (I guess he didn't write much?) for his influence on sustainable agriculture. He was tutored by the immense Rudolph Steiner of biodynamic fame. The biointensive/French intensive gardening styles that Chadwick championed I certainly would not describe as permacultural in the same vain as I would Fukuoka, but very effective and sustainable in their own way they are.
The plants in the Chadwick Garden, all of them intensely green and vibrant with aliveness, are quite a testament to what a deep and beautiful soil can support. This is a lovely, lovely garden. The incredible tilth here is the product of decades of dedicated labor, intensive and disruptive (think: perpetual double digging of beds). This does suggest only limited applicability of these methods to a permaculture, but also proves that where these methods are indeed applicable, they are so very applicable.
Also, as noted in Rain Tenaqiya's great West Coast Food Forestry book, the Chadwick garden is functionally somewhat food foresty in its interplanting of small fruittrees above and between annual beds.
mrchuck wrote: That seems worth a visit. I really like the geodesic domes.
Bullock brothers site has to be near the top of my list of gardens to visit.
I was thinking the plants for a future site in England would be a wealth of knowledge too.
I'd like to see a site that is practical enough to make a profit using Permaculture but beautiful enough to give spiritual fulfillment as well.
the Bullocks' have a great place that's inspirational for sure. some real good folks there. as I understand it, their business model mostly focuses on education, so I wouldn't be surprised if they could produce and use a lot more food than they do presently if they made that more central to their practice.
The gardens at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) in Occidental, California are well worth a visit. They're French Intensive, but they fit into a permaculture design encompassing the whole site. Dougo knows what he's about, and he's been there for many years, so he can answer your questions with really in-depth knowledge.
If you're interested in travelling to Africa, then we can put you in touch with some lovely projects - where you can also WWOOF. Fambidzanai Permculture Centre near Harare (Zim) is Africa's pioneer Permaculture training organisation - established on 22 ha of farm land - and where Mollinson did his first training in Africa (80's). Many good African Permies have come from this time & location, and are facilitating training across southern and eastern Africa. They certainly provide good examples of indigenous species use, and seed/food security, as well as water/irrigation projects in drought-prone environments.