Cultivating Place show

Cultivating Place

Summary: Gardens are more than collections of plants. Gardens and Gardeners are intersectional spaces and agents for positive change in our world. Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden is a weekly public radio program & podcast exploring what we mean when we garden. Through thoughtful conversations with growers, gardeners, naturalists, scientists, artists and thinkers, Cultivating Place illustrates the many ways in which gardens are integral to our natural and cultural literacy. These conversations celebrate how these interconnections support the places we cultivate, how they nourish our bodies, and feed our spirits. They change the world, for the better. Take a listen.

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  • Artist: Jennifer Jewell / Cultivating Place
  • Copyright: 2016 - Cultivating Place


 Cultivating Place: Dispatches From The Home Garden – Emily Wilkins, Seattle, WA | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:28:14

This week on Cultivating Place we hear the next in our series of Dispatches from the Home Garden, this time from a north Seattle neighborhood where artist, gardener and aspiring vermicompost farmer Emily Wilkins tends to composting worms, awkward old maidens of shrubs. She starts and ends her days in the garden with in the company of family and some of her favorite friends – the plants, the worms and all manner of winged insects. Among them, she finds relief, satisfaction, joy and that at at the end of the day having your hands in the dirt is the very best part. Join us!

 Cultivating Place: Jinny Blom – The Thoughtful Gardener | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:50:43

This week on Cultivating Place we’re joined by Uk based garden designer Jinny Blom, whose new book is entitled “The Thoughtful Gardener: an intelligent approach to garden design”. After 17 years and more than 250 gardens designed around the globe, Jinny shares with us her thoughtful, creative, musical and heartfelt perspective and process. Join us!

 Cultivating Place: A Wide-Angle Garden Design Education with Katharine Webster | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:40:52

There's something to be said for having deep and historic roots to one region – one gardening and natural history home. I have an admiration for gardeners who’ve been born and raised in the historic home territories of their families before them, who have been working their own gardens for 20, 40 or 60 years. I have yet to live and work in the same garden for more than 7 years. And while I do envy these long tending one spot gardeners, I also see the benefits of having gardened in a wide variety of places, cultures, environments. I was born and raised at 8,000 feet in Colorado, but grew up regularly visiting extended family - and living myself - in a wide variety of environments across the country – from New York City and Boston, to the Adirondack Mountains of New York, the coast of Rhode Island, interior and coastal South Carolina, Northern Idaho, and the downtown's of Los Angeles, Seattle and St. Louis. You see my point. So while I celebrate those who’ve been able to build a relationship with one place for life, I've come to appreciate the kind of wide-angle education my family gave me on the differing look and feel of different places, and on the universal gardening/greening instincts you can start to see repeated by people in any location. This week on Cultivating Place, I’m joined by landscape designer, Katharine Webster. Now a resident of California's Bay Area, she grew up in the North East and spent summers on land and water in the 1000 Islands of Canada. She studied art, sculpture, and finally landscape architecture where she became compelled by the interface between the built environment and the landscape, finding power and meaning in the way that thoughtful and creative designers worked in this interface. With gardening internship experience in New York's Central Park and a family member/mentor who from an early age encouraged and taught her to really LOOK at the world around her, Katharine too has had a life offering a wide-angle landscape and garden education. Her early experiences and educational (formal and life education) journey lit a fire in her to shape landscapes.

 Cultivating Place: The Wild Ornamental Buckwheats! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:53:52

In life, there are generalists and there are specialists. This week on Cultivating Place, we’re speaking with botanist Dr. Ben Grady about his work with ornamental buckwheats and the upcoming Eriogonum Society conference in Weed, California. While you may not be familiar with the genus Eriogonum, I can promise you, once you meet these beautiful resilient native flowering plants, you’ll know they’re perfect for us generalist flower folk of American West (and all other summer dry regions of the world).

 Cultivating Place: 'Natural Selection' - A Conversation With Dan Pearson | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:50:26

It is full on summer. Perhaps you are in the very middle of summer holidays here at mid-July. If you are like me, there is a special anticipation to the books of summer we choose to companion us on holiday, at least one of which has to be a garden book. The world of garden writing includes lushly photographed coffee table books, how-to books and garden literature, among others. This week on Cultivating Place, we’re joined by British garden design luminary Dan Pearson to hear more about his newest book "Natural Selection: A Year in the Garden." A lovely work of the heart and the mind's eye, this work of garden literature makes for an enriching summer read. I’ll be traveling with a copy tucked into my beach bag this next week when I am on break. In our conversation, Dan shares about the book and his own gardening journey and philosophy. Join us!

 Cultivating Place: Cultivating America's Gardens - Smithsonian Gardens | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:51:49

Over the past year of Cultivating Place interviews, we’ve heard references to the importance of the Smithsonian Gardens archives for the research of such historians, writers and gardeners as Marta McDowell while writing "All the President’s Gardens", as Andrea Wulf while she was writing "Founding Gardeners" and "The Invention of Nature", and as Ryder Ziebarth as she was working to document and preserve 5 generations of her family working and gardening on one piece of land. This past May, the Smithsonian Gardens – a branch of the Smithsonian Institution dedicated to enriching the Smithsonian experience through exceptional gardens, horticultural exhibits, collections, and education – launched a new exhibition entitled “Cultivating America’s Gardens”. The exhibition will be on view at the National Museum of American History through August of 2018. In honor of our country’s birthday this week, and the hand-in-hand role gardens play in the history of our country – this week on Cultivating Place I’m pleased to be joined by the curator of the exhibit, Kelly Crawford. In the second half of today’s program we’ll be joined by Cindy Brown, Manager of Education and Collections Management at Smithsonian Gardens to learn more about the gardens and their on-going mission and activities. Happy birthday to the United States of America – seems to me an exhibit celebrating our shared garden history is a perfect gift.

 Cultivating Place: Gardening Under Australian Skies, A Conversation With Home Gardener Pen Pender | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:45:56

This week on Cultivating Place, a conversation with a home gardener who has moved not just gardens, but continents and hemispheres. As we just reached the height of sunlight with our summer solstice, she eased into her winter. She shares a gardening story of learning, community and adaptability. Pen Pender is a gardener, mother, wife, voracious reader, community activist, bee keeper, cook and novice potter living near Mt. Macedon in Victoria, Australia. While I might never see kangaroos in my garden, and she may never hear the sound of a congregation of acorn woodpeckers, we are still gardening together in some sense. As she digs in and looks appreciatively up at winter over there, I dig in and look up in anticipation of a long hot summer over here. Pen shares her story of gardening under Australian skies. To read more or to see more photos of Pen Pender’s Australian garden, go to You can download or subscribe to the Cultivating Place podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

 Cultivating Place: Revisiting The Cut Flower Garden Ahead Of American Flowers Week | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:28:00

Next week – June 28 to July 4 – our country is celebrating American Flowers Week, celebrating American-grown flowers in 50 states. In celebration, Debra Prinzing, the founder of what’s known as the Slow Flowers LLC — who we interviewed last July — has organized a Slow Flowers Summit in Seattle, Washington on Sunday, July 2. There will be speakers and activities – shared food, shared flowers and shared philosophy. It’s been called a TED Talk day for flower lovers. For more information on the summit, please visit for links. In honor of the upcoming celebrations and the many benefits – emotional, economic and environmental — of locally grown flowers, this week on Cultivating Place we revisit an interview from earlier this year with a leader in the flower farmer renaissance underway: Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farms. Benzakien is the name and face behind the beautiful and impassioned Floret Flower Farms, based in the Skagit Valley of Washington state. Floret is at the heart of encouraging and educating would be flower farmers on the whens why and hows of getting started and making a go of this new-again small farm based industry which is rooting itself across the country and even around the globe. Erin’s new book "The Cut Flower Garden" – aimed at new and beginning flower farmers — is out now from Chronicle Books. She joins us today via skype from the farm.

 Cultivating Place: Dispatches From the Home Garden – A Father-Daughter Garden Heritage Story | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:41:54

In our last Cultivating Place "Dispatches from the Home Garden," we heard from a young gardener experiencing her first garden dislocation/relocation in Sacramento, California. This week – in many ways in honor of Father’s Day — we hear from another home gardener, this time in New Jersey and this time on the same land her grandparents cultivated and which she and her husband, with the steady help and mentorship of her father, became the fourth generation of her family to steward this land after her uncle died and the property went on the market. The 20 years since taking on the family farm has seen a lot of hard work, the restoration of some elements of the homestead and the re-envisioning of other elements. Barns have been stabilized, old rose borders are now mixed perennial beds, and what was once an outbuilding is now our home gardeners writing studio, her father has now died. Other things – including the legacy and spiritual presence of her father – have remained reassuringly similar. Sometimes our gardens are adventure stories in which we are on a vision quest to find out who we are. Sometimes they are our anchors to windward in reminding us who we are and where we came from. Sometimes they are both. Gardener, writer, wife, mother, and daughter Ryder Ziebarth shares her garden journey on Cultivating Place this week. Join us!

 Cultivating Place: An Edible Feast – Edible Communities Publications Turns 15 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:50:14

This week on Cultivating Place we hear the story of the first 15 years of the Edible Communities – the umbrella name of the many publishers who bring you the edible communities publications across the US and Canada. Fifteen years ago, two women who cared about food, Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian, published a 16-page, one-color newsletter to help connect the farmers in their area to the food-lovers in their area. That was the birth of Edible Ojai, and the beginning of what is now known as the Edible Communities publications – the rich look and face of local food across North America. Edible Communities, a James Beard Foundation award-winning family of 100 locally owned and licensed magazines devoted to the local food movement, is marking its 15th anniversary this Spring. Since the launch of Edible Ojai (California) in 2002, Edible Communities’ publications have become an influential voice in the food world by keeping focused and passionate about local food, how it’s grown and harvested, what defines regional flavors and trends, and how to prepare and present food in a way that’s rooted in local culture. This week Cultivating Place is joined by Nancy Painter, executive director of the Edible Communities media, from her offices in Maplewood New Jersey to hear more - join us!

 Cultivating Place: Dispatches From The Home Garden – Urban Homesteading And A Garden Journey | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:45:54

Gardening is a specifically human endeavor. It is a characterizing feature of our species, fairly well documented throughout our evolution. Which fascinates me. And each of us come to this endeavor for our own reasons and needs – sometimes very practical, sometimes very esthetic, sometimes spiritual. Our gardens are like some larger version of our very fingerprints. Today Cultivating Place welcomes a home gardening member of the so called “millennial” generation, and self-described Urban Homesteader. Despite having grown up around gardening, she did not begin to really absorb its importance and her own attraction to it until her own early adulthood. Today, she shares with us her journey so far, some of the lessons and highlights, her first experience leaving an established garden, and the opportunities presenting themselves to her in her new garden. Melissa Keyser, along with her husband Matt, have recently relocated from Santa Rosa, CA to Sacramento, CA. After four years spent building and establishing what they imagined to be their “forever home,” their journey has taken a twist. She is blogs about their pursuit of a sustainable urban homesteading life at Listening to the story of Melissa and Matt’s gardening and homesteading journey I am struck by a couple of things – the first being that there is little new under the sun, but that the fun part is often part and parcel of discovering and learning some of these things for ourselves. The second thing I am struck by is hope. Each generation of horticulturists, gardeners and plant lovers will necessarily respond to the prevailing social, cultural, economic and political winds of their own moment in time, and for me there is beauty, taste and hope in their resourcefulness and resilience in doing just this.

 Elevated – Gardens Of The High Line, With Landscape Designer Rick Darke | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:28:00

What do we mean when we use the word “wild” and why does it matter? In 2017, the New York City urban landscape commonly known as The High Line celebrates its official 5th birthday. This milestone is being marked by the publication of a new book entitled "Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes" (Timber Press, 2017), coauthored by plantsmen Piet Oudolf and Rick Darke, with graphic design by Lorraine Ferguson. Oudolf is the renowned plantsman responsible for overseeing the planting design and plant choices, and Rick Darke has documented and collaborated on the project since its inception. "Gardens of the High Line: Elevating the Nature of Modern Landscapes" reflects decades of dedication to viewing gardens through the lenses of cultural geography and social anthropology. The specific garden design and plant choices of these now famed and highly visited gardens is of global interest and a primary focus of the new book. But the philosophy and design ethos underpinning the layered meaning in the book’s subtitle: elevating the nature of modern landscapes - is absolutely as compelling. Author, photographer, philosopher, and landscape ethicist Rick Darke joins Cultivating Place via skype this week to discuss both aspects of the High Line in greater depth. Join us!

 Cultivating Place: Paying Love’s Celebrations Forward, With Floral Designer Melinda Benson-Valavanis | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:27:29

Melinda Benson-Valavanis is a floral designer and owner of MCreations in Chico, CA. She recently committed her business to participating in a project called re-bloom – in which she accepts the flowers from a wedding or other large event after the event is over and and re-purposes them for distribution to people and communities who might need a bit of floral energy and cheer in their lives. In this season of extravagant and joyful weddings, graduations, reunions and anniversaries – I can’t think of a better way to pay love and joy forward - and along to its next recipients. Melinda is with me this week on Cultivating Place from the North State Public Radio studios to share more. Join us!

 Cultivating Place: 'Heaven Is A Garden' And 'The Spirit Of Stone' With Author Jan Johnsen | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:28:00

This week on Cultivating Place, we’re joined by Jan Johnsen – a gardener, landscape designer and author of the books "Heaven is a Garden" and "The Spirit of Stone,” both published by St. Lynn’s Press. As a speaker for botanical garden show audiences, Jan loves to share her insights on the beneficial effects of informed garden design. Her unique approach — incorporating ancient practices with contemporary ideas — is entertaining, inspiring and informative. Join us!

 Earth Wisdom – John Muir, The Accidental Taoist – With Author Raymond Barnett | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 00:28:00

Spring is a time of awakening and full sensory immersion in the world around us - even if we aren’t gardeners or nature lovers. It is hard to avoid, ignore or miss Spring’s reckless abundance and generosity. It is the perfect counterpoint to the winter’s restful, healing darkness and dormancy. In appreciation for all of spring’s growing energy, I am pleased to be joined this week by Dr. Raymond Barnett, author of “Earth Wisdom: John Muir, Accidental Taoist, Charts Humanity’s Only Future on a Changing Planet,” which he published in 2016. In this season of worsening news about our health of our world’s climate and ecosystems, and the seemingly ever more threatening nature of political abuse of what few protections we have in place for our water, air and planet’s diversity of life in the pursuit of in misguided financial “gain” - a book like this one catches my eye, my imagination and my heart. In our interview Ray shares the story of how he came to write the book and the his own journey of studying and embracing the ancient Chinese Taoist philosophy and his recognizing its tenets in his deepening study of John Muir over the past 5 years. What results is his comparing of Taoism and John Muir’s separate but interestingly parallel “immanent world views,” in which Ray sees profound hope for the life - and heart - of our world. Once understood and adopted, Ray believes, from this immanent world view - pillaging our earth’s natural resources, abusing or dismissing the equal importance of all of its many life forms, make no sense at all to anyone, no matter your political, spiritual or economic interest. In this "immanent world view” Ray sees “three pillars”: 1. That this earthly world is our true home - there is no better place, this is not a test; 2. that we as humans are equal to, and intimately related to all other living things. Humans are not “higher” and do not have “dominion” but are 1 part of a very complex and interdependent whole; 3. That in all of life there is a critically important balance always being calibrated between opposite energies - light and dark, hard and fluid, female and male, Yin and Yang, and that if any individual, culture, or ecosystem is out of balance and overly dominated by any one energy, then it is not healthy and will not be able to sustain itself over time. It is a compelling and thought provoking conversation - join us! Ray is the author of 7 previous titles, which encompass the varied fields of study for which he has not only deep passion, but also expertise, including: evolutionary ecology, particularly that of California, Natural History, mountaineering, traditional Chinese Language and Culture, mystery fiction and John Muir.


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