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.
As a celebration of the many ways that one’s cultivation of place can benefit not only the individual cultivator – gardener or naturalist – this week on Cultivating Place I’m joined by John Carlon, president of River Partners, a nonprofit organization working to create wildlife habitat for the benefit of people (economically and environmentally), water (quality and conservation), wildlife and the wider environment (including benefitting agricultural productivity and quality) by restoring successional riparian corridors throughout watersheds of the Western United States.
Happy New Year! For over 100 years Sunset magazine has been inspiring gardens and gardeners in the American West. This year marks the first full year for Sunset’s gorgeous, innovative new demonstration and display gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma. Join me this week when Cultivating Place converses with Sunset’s Garden Editor Johanna Silver - inspiring New Year’s resolutions for garden living. Join us.
There is something inherently satisfying about a full circle – a completion – a beginning brought to its fullness and coming to its natural end, which leads right into the next beginning. This full circle satisfaction is true for cycles of the moon, cycles of the seasons and cycles of the field and garden. For me this is especially apparent at the Winter Solstice and, of course, the full circle of a calendar year. It’s long been customary to celebrate the year’s end by toasting to the old and welcoming the new with a glass of something bubbly – and I decided Cultivating Place should too – but not just any bubbly, rather one that is deeply grounded in this cultivation of place and all its systems and intricacies we find so vital and fascinating. A glass of bubbly that embodies and is as interdependent with the soil, water, wildlife and plant life of place as we are. So what better bubbly than the most ancient of fermented spirits, nectar of the gods — honey-based mead. To that end, and to new beginnings, today, I am joined by Gordon Hull, mead maker and owner of Heidrun Meadery – makers of dry, sparkling mead based in Point Reyes, California.
In this season of the winter solstice — marked by the beauty and appreciative contemplation that mark the celebrations of winter holidays the world around, I very much wanted this week's Cultivating Place to acknowledge the diversity, value and fragility of our native plants and their communities. No matter where you garden or cultivate place now, or where you might have done so throughout your life, the native plants of any place are what signify, identify and root that place as its own. Native plants — ornamental, edible or useful, common, rare or endangered — all cultivation and gardening is based upon the native plants of somewhere. This week, I honor the native plants of my place — the native plants of California, one of the world's biodiveristy hotspots, with more native and endemic plants than certainly anywhere I've lived or gardened before now. To help me in this celebration of the plants of our own places, my guest today is Michael Kauffmann, editor-in-chief of Backcountry Press and author of several books exploring the natural history of some signature plants of the western forest, including — so seasonally appropriate — "Conifer Country, Conifers of the Pacific Slope" and "A Field Guide to Manzanitas,” one of our native broadleaved evergreens. As of January 2017, Michael is also the editor of Fremontia, the journal of the California Native Plant Society.
The famous British gardener and writer Vita Sackville-West stated that no room is ever complete without flowers. This week on Cultivating Place we explore this idea with Vietnamese-born New York Based photographer and writer Ngoc Minh Ngo. Her most recent book “In Bloom – Creating and Living with Flowers” beautifully portrays the imaginative and surprising ways in which 11 different artists and thinkers around the world weave their love of flowers into their everyday lives.
Emily Dickinson references plants, flowers, nature or her garden in more than one-third of her known poems, with many more references in her extensive correspondences with family and friends. Flowers and nature provided her with both “inspiration and companionship.” In celebration of the poet’s upcoming birthday, this week on Cultivating Place we’re joined by Jane Wald, executive director of the Emily Dickinson Museum, who’s overseeing current research and restoration of the Dickinson’s historic home garden and conservatory. Join us!
The term “herbal” refers to far more than a soothing tea or tasty spice. An herbal is a book or otherwise codified collection of knowledge about the use of plants for food or medicine. Dating back as far as ancient Egypt, Sumer and China, there are more herbals published every year. On Cultivating Place this week, I’m joined by Stephen Orr, editor-in-chief of Better Homes & Gardens and author of "The New American Herbal," published by Clarkson Potter/Random House in 2014.
Every year about this time, the light wanes, the temperatures drop and we as people draw in a bit, hunker down and begin whatever we can of a winter dormancy. For gardeners and non-gardeners alike, I think, there is a human urge to sometimes craft our garden plants, branches, flowers, seeds, cones and fruit into other, artful and unique creations — for doorways, for gates, for windows, for tabletops. For me this urge is particularly strong in fall and winter. Perhaps it’s an effort to preserve the beauty; perhaps it’s an urge to celebrate and give thanks for the abundance. Or both. For Thanksgiving Day on Cultivating Place, we pay homage to this urge and this age-old tradition when we’re joined by two artists who have an eye, hand and heart for just this kind of craft. Join us as we “gather” and “season to taste” a variety of seasonal plant crafts with gardener, stylist and photographer Caitlin Atkinson, author of "Plant Craft” (2016, Timber Press), and Alethea Harampolis, floral designer at Studio Choo and coauthor of "The Wreath Recipe” (2014, Artisan Books) about the traditional and not so traditional practice of crafting wreaths (and swags and branches). Join us!
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.