Thoughts on the Permaculture Flower

The Permaculture Wheel

Another evolution… the ‘Permaculture Wheel’ representing the three Ethics and seven Domains of permaculture, along with the twelve Principles.  The individual layered images for print can be downloaded here.

An update to the WIP… the Permaculture Flower representing the three Ethics and seven Domains of permaculture, along with the twelve Principles.  The image below can be downloaded here.

Thoughts on the Permaculture Flower.

A version of the Permaculture Flower representing the three ethics and seven domains of permaculture, created whilst working on the PDC webpage content for

Credit to, see their description of Ethics & Domains here, and to David Holmgren’s Permaculture Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability…where I (probably) first came across the permaculture flower.

The Ethics and Domains from Permaculture Principles & Pathways, by David Holmgren, graphic by Darren Roberts.

The permaculture flower is an image that represents the seven domains of permaculture action. Sometimes, as in the image here, it also incorporates the three permaculture ethics.

I’ve looked at it quite a lot in an attempt to gain mental clarity on the relationships between the domains, and to investigate a way of making it feel more coherent when containing the three ethics at the centre. It just required some prolonged observation for me to start to feel the coherence, and realize that at this point, I could do no better. I realize I am an infant glaring at the work of an old master, demanding that its secrets be revealed immediately.

With my old-school, mainstream education, my brain jars at the sight of 7 and 3 in the same image. Where is the symmetry? Perhaps that is part of my ‘evolution’, my permaculture education. Forests are not symmetrical. The ocean is not symmetrical. Why then should I expect concepts to readily form themselves into symmetrical arrangements graphically?

But the arrangement does make sense in terms of relating the three ethics, to the 7 domains.

The ethic ‘Care for People’, is close to the domains of the Built Environment, Tools & Technology, Culture & Education, Health & Spiritual Wellbeing.

The ethic ‘Fair Share’ is close to the domains of Finance & Economics, Land Tenure & Community Governance.

The ethic ‘Care for Earth’ is close to Land Tenure, Land & Nature Stewardship, and the Built Environment.

There are overlaps, relationships. Connections. In that way, things make sense.

(I’m also wondering at the way I just wrote the above. I naturally went clockwise around the Domains. I wonder if someone educated in a culture with no clocks, or different concepts of time, would do the same? Perhaps the relationships would be more immediately apparent to them. Perhaps an example of my Western brain working the way it was taught to. Perhaps our ways of thinking limit us all the time without us realizing it.)

Next step: Principles. I haven’t found an example yet of a Permaculture Flower, that also incorporates the 14 Principles. Let’s see how that works out.  (*updated with new image)

Following on from this – thoughts on Permaculture Ethic 1: Care for the Earth