I like to daydream about living in a tiny cabin way out in the boonies of Appalachia amongst a lush forest garden. Not so much the stereotypical “food forest”, but one consisting of native plants chosen for their aesthetic and ecological rather than agricultural value. I’m not really a gardener or anything, so I like to imagine that I basically could order a careful selection of native trees and shrub seed in huge quantities, rent some farm equipment to plow up the soil, sow that seed, and then just let nature take its course until the field becomes a forest.
Prominent permaculture figures make it seem like it should almost be this easy, like Mark Shepard and his promotion of “Sheer Total and Utter Neglect”, but it seems like almost every wildlife conservation source I consult insists that even wild-type native plants require extremely expensive and effort intensive, irrigation, weeding, protection from herbivores, etc. Normally I’d just dismiss permaculture as too good to be true, but internally I just can’t ignore how these same plants can form almost identical communities in the wild without any deliberate human inputs at all.
Is my daydream completely pie-in-the-sky or is a starting low-effort permacultured ornamental ecosystem at least feasible?