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
As we enter a traditional two-month period marked by celebrations of giving thanks, this week on Cultivating Place we’re joined by Qayyum Johnson, farm manager of Green Gulch Farm Zen Center in Marin, CA. Practicing in the Zen Buddhist tradition and farming 7 acres of cool season crops, Qayyum explores with us the connection between the back breaking physical labor of farming and the cultivation of awareness, generosity and thanksgiving in our minds and spirits. Join us!
This week on Cultivating Place, we speak with Steve Van Hoven Chief Arborist and Horticulture Supervisor of Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Gardens and Arboretum. This historic landscaped national military cemetery sits on the location of what was once the home estate and gardens of General Robert E Lee and his wife Mary Custis Lee in Arlington, Virginia. More than 400,000 veterans are laid to rest there, among many gardens and more than 8.600 trees. In 2015 Arlington was accredited with LEVEL II arboretum status.
Gardens can be important repositories for cultural and environmental history. From the plants included to materials used — you can read a great deal about time and place in any garden. This might be particularly true of gardens created and cared for at the turn of the 19th century in England and the United States — a time marked by the unprecedented expanding financial, journalistic and horticultural wealth of the industrial age. This week on Cultivating Place we’re joined by Gail Read, garden manager of Blithewold, to explore the history embedded in any garden. Blithewold, which is Welsh for “ Happy Wood,” is a nationally significant Country Place Era house, garden and arboretum on Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay.
Gardens and landscapes, gardeners and gardening are integral to our cultural literacy and sense of place and self as a nation. In 1989 Frank Cabot founded the Garden Conservancy in the United States in an effort to preserve exceptional gardens and landscapes for the future. This week on Cultivating Place we’re joined by George Shakespear of the Garden Conservancy to hear more about its work, including its garden education and conservation mission as well as its dynamic Open Days program, which brings access to many, many other private gardens across the country each year. Several episodes ago, Cultivating Place spoke with the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, California. That remarkable garden resulting from one woman’s passion and dedication became the garden that essentially launched the Garden Conservancy – an American nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by Francis Cabot. The conservancy is dedicated to preserving exceptional gardens and landscapes for the future.
I don't know about you, but for me the garden grounds me, at the same time that it liberates me. Being out in nature - in the garden or on the trail - opens my mind and heart, settles me down while simultaneously teaching me about and connecting me to nature, science and humanity. For some, the combination of grounding, expansion and liberation that can be gleaned from a greater understanding and connection to the natural world is crucial and valuable in even more immediate ways. This week on Cultivating Place, Kelli Bush and Carl Elliott of the Sustainability in Prisons Project in Washington State join us from the studios of KOAS Community Radio on the Evergreen State College campus. Kelli is the Program Manager for the Sustainability in Prisons Project, Carl is the project’s Conservation Nursery Manager.
Thomas Rainer is a “horticultural futurist fascinated by the intersection of wild plants and human culture." A landscape architect by profession and a gardener by obsession, Rainer is co-author of “Planting in a Post-Wild World,” (Timber Press 2015). He joins Cultivating Place this week to explore what gardening in a post wild world looks like and why, despite collective wounds and losses, there’s hope and beauty to be found in the cultivation of resilient plant communities in any place large or small we might find to plant them. Hope you’ll listen!
Every garden has something to teach me – truly. About plants, about people, about space and light and place. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA – the result one dedicated gardener woman’s life-long curiosity and admiration for cacti and succulents as she gardened in a dry climate. The garden started in the early 1950s as a private collection of potted plants. By 1972, the collection had outgrown its location and was moved to its current site, which at the time was an old walnut orchard. After being seen by the founder of the Garden Conservancy, Frank Cabot in the late 1980s, the Ruth Bancroft Garden became the first in the United States to be preserved by The Garden Conservancy. Open to the public since 1972, the garden remains an outstanding example of a Dry Garden. On Cultivating Place this week, we’re joined by Gretchen Bartzen, Executive Director of the Ruth Bancroft Garden to hear more. "The Bold Dry Garden - Lessons from the Ruth Bancroft Garden", is a new book out from Timber Press about the life and garden of a remarkable plantswoman, Ruth Bancroft and her epic cacti and succulent garden in Walnut Creek California. The book is written by Johanna Silver, Garden Editor for Sunset magazine, and is gorgeously photographed by Marion Brenner.
Some people garden for food, some people garden for beauty, and some people garden and farm for cloth. Sandy Fisher is a weaver and fiber artist who since 1980 has literally interwoven her artistic eye, her impulse to garden, her love of natural fibers and natural dye colors to create functional art. An appreciator of beauty and all its textures and colors and patterns, Sandy Fisher is a co-founder of the Chico Flax Project and Chico Cloth, both of which will be represented at the annual Fiber Fusion celebration this coming October at the Patrick Ranch in Chico. The Chico Flax Project is a young initiative experimenting with grow flax in order to produce a locally-grown linen. On Cultivating Place this week, Sandy — artist, weaver gardener, and in many ways activist — shares with us her journey of gardening for sustainable cloth.
Today is the Autumnal Equinox. If gardening at its core is an activity of optimism, then planting fall bulbs is one of its most profound gestures of hope wherein you plant something that looks like next to nothing and then some months later – perhaps when you might need it most — it appears out of the cold, damp earth and then — it blooms. This week Cultivating Place is joined by Scott Kunst, founder and soon to be retiring owner of Old House Gardens — purveyers and champions of heirloom bulbs varieties from around the world and throughout time.
Does simply removing your lawn bring you up to speed as a gardener? Have you noticed how when a lawn is replaced with a garden, some homeowners approach these new gardens with the same mow and blow management technique they afforded their prior lawns, while others seem to assume these are static installations and leave them to their own devices of overgrowth, weeds or death. Into this gap comes a brave new crop of fine gardeners – and they are not what they used to be. This week Cultivating Place is joined by Jenn Simmons, who will talk to us about the path to becoming and the benefits of seeking the help of a fine gardener. Jenn Simmons is a home gardener, and garden manager/fine gardener for Ruskin Gardens in Palo Alto.
In the wake of the ongoing drought in the state of California, the state and many municipalities have offered incentives for homeowners and businesses to replace their thirsty lawns with native and drought tolerant “plantings." Writer and activist Michael Pollan once wrote that when an American rips out his or her lawn, they become — perforce — a gardener. We’ll explore this idea from two sides, that of CalWater, a publicly traded water provider in Northern California which for the last two years or so has challenged water users to reduce their water use, and had offered financial incentives to homes and businesses who replace their grass lawns with drought tolerant gardens. We’ll also hear from a homeowner who took this challenge and experienced the life-changing event of becoming a gardener and garden lover.
Landscape architects create outdoor spaces with intention and thought. While the effects are often unnoticed consciously, they are absorbed and experienced nonetheless — impacting us, our culture, and our understanding of place — historically and right now. Kelly Comras explores some of these ideas with us on Cultivating Place this week.
Dr. Peter Raven is one of the leading plant biologists in the world today, having begun his botanical and natural history journey falling in love with the plants and animals of Central California, the Sierra Nevada and under the encouragement and mentorship of many leaders in the field at the California Academy of Sciences beginning when he was 8 years old. Dr. Raven is President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, one of the country’s top three botanical research institutions. Dr. Raven retired in 2011 after 40 years at the helm in Missouri, but his tireless advocacy and outreach in defense of conservation and the protection of biodiversity continues. He joins me this week on Cultivating Place to share his passion.
It's late summer. The light is shifting incrementally each day now — tilting toward a new season. I notice especially in those transitory, crepuscular moments of dawn and dusk. The light is moving towards a new, quieter season in the garden and the colors of my garden are shifting with it. Some of the saturation is waning, other shades are deepening, bright giving way — very slowly, almost imperceptibly — to earthy
This week on Cultivating Place, life in the garden gets a little more wild when we speak with Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, California director of the National Wildlife Federation. Beth is the author of the recently released book titled "When Mountain Lions are Neighbors - People and Wildlife Working it Out in California.”