Bioregions are important in shaping our gardens in a sustainable and ecological way and in helping us find our place in the world. Bioregionalism is an interesting concept that could help us move towards a human society that functions in better harmony with the natural world.
Thinking in terms of bioregions rather than nations or other political divisions can help inform best practices in societal organizations. But what I will write in this article is why recognizing our bioregions can also be very important in garden design.
What is a bioregion?
A bioregion is an area where boundaries are not defined by arbitrary political or national boundaries, but by natural topographic and biological features. There are different ways of dividing areas into bioregions, but any approach that tries to do this is called bioregionalism.
This approach aims to connect humanity and human systems to the surrounding natural environment, forging strong bonds between people and the environment in which they live and finding the best solutions for this environment.
Bioregions can be defined by a range of different geographic and ecological features, for example mountain ranges, major rivers and hydrographic systems, topography and soils, and dominant ecosystem types, such as forests, grasslands. , wetlands, deserts, native flora and fauna, etc.
Bioregionalism may also involve examining how humanity has traditionally interacted with the landscape and examining land use patterns and societal systems in conjunction with the natural setting. Shared societal concepts, history and heritage can also come into play.
Examining bioregions means having a holistic look at where we live and how we fit in, both as a species and as individuals. It is an approach that aims to help us find and understand our place in the world, to work in harmony with our environment and to work with others who live in the same environmental conditions as us.
Consider the bioregion in garden design
Over the years, I have realized that looking at the big picture is extremely important in garden design. When designing a garden, we cannot only look at the site itself, but must consider it in wider landscape, environmental and even social contexts.
Before we can start crafting the best design for a specific site, we need to take a look at the patterns and flows around it. Recognizing which bioregion we are in can be a crucial step in determining the best garden designs. Obviously, our bioregion will be defined by climate, geography and hydrology. We have to look at factors like sunlight, wind and water, wild directional forces acting on the site.
Beyond that, we need to get the big picture by looking at the growth patterns of plants. In general, what plant life predominates in the region? In gardens, it can be beneficial to mimic natural ecosystems, while creating systems that can abundantly meet our own needs. If, for example, you live in a bioregion dominated by woodlands or forests, forest gardening might provide the best solutions for the space.
Being sensitive to ecotones (transition zones between ecosystems) and avoiding hard boundaries can help us see other larger patterns, such as wildlife migratory paths, and help native wildlife in our gardens.
But what is often overlooked is that gardeners need to consider human impact and larger systems. A bioregional approach means examining indigenous knowledge and history, as well as recognizing the contemporary human impact on the land. It can be helpful to examine the gifts nature offers us and consider what we can give in return, wherever we live.
The solutions we shape must consider humanity as part of natural systems, not as something separate. We should come to define where we live not in terms of political structures and boundaries, but rather in terms of the actual natural structures and boundaries that give meaning to our lives and shape the place we call home.
Taking an in-depth look at the bioregion we belong to and questioning modern designs that can shape the way we think about where we live can help us find the best design for our properties. He can guide us to garden in a way that respects and recognizes our place in a bigger picture.
Considering bioregions before focusing on more specific details of our small ecoregions and specific sites can help us find our place in a better and more harmonious world.