Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden

Thursdays at 10 a.m.

The essential connections between nature, our gardens, and our places in both: I’m Jennifer Jewell and this is Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden a weekly public radio program and podcast that explores 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 and gardening are integral to our natural and cultural literacy. It celebrates how these interconnections support the places we cultivate, how they nourish our bodies and feed our spirits. Take a listen.

A co-production of North State Public Radio (KCHO 91.7 FM in Chico, CA and KFPR 88.9 FM in Redding, CA) and CultivatingPlace.comCultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden airs Thursdays at 10:00 AM. The program is created and hosted by Jennifer Jewell; produced and engineered by Sarah Bohannon. Our communications coordinator is Kacey Gardner. Music by Matt Shilts.

Cultivating Place is based on two beliefs: The first, that horticulture (“the art of garden cultivation or management” according to the Oxford English Dictionary) is a foundational element of our cultural literacy — on par with art, music, architecture, history, geography, social studies and literature. The second, that gardens and gardening provide a unique, and uniquely beautiful, bridge connecting us to our larger environments — culturally and botanically.

Weekly interviews explore the many different ways people come to and bring to life what garden and gardening mean. They celebrate how gardening encourages a direct relationship with the dynamic processes of the plants, animals, soils, seasons and climatic factors that come to bear on a garden.

Cultivating Place builds on and deepens the conversations begun in 8 years of creating, writing and hosting the regionally focused In a North State Garden: Celebrating the Art, Craft and Science of Gardening in Northern California, which aired on North State Public Radio from January of 2008 - January of 2016.

The show is available as a podcast on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher

Photo used courtesy of Maria Failla

Maria Failla is the host of Bloom & Grow Radio – a unique podcast from New York City designed specifically for indoor plant people, urban jungle dwellers, houseplant enthusiasts and succulent killers alike. This week on Cultivating Place Maria shares her journey of learning more about the care and keeping of her plants and herself. Join us! 

Photo used courtesy of Benjamin Vogt

Benjamin Vogt is a next generation student of the beloved conservationist and writer Aldo Leopold and a passionate nature and garden advocate himself. In his book “A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion For An Uncertain Future” he takes the essence of Leopold’s "A Land Ethic" and brings it home to our gardens in some surprising and sometimes challenging ways. 

Photo used courtesy Jason Dewees


This week on Cultivating Place, Designing with Palms – in the heart of Spring Break season where those of us in colder climates might be longing for a warm, sunny, palm punctuated beach, we dig into this remarkable plant family and get above and beyond its symbolism and closer to its truer history and essence.

Photo courtesy of Claire Bandfield

Most gardeners - of the indoor or outdoor variety - love (and covet) a good pot. For house plants, for focal points, for cut arrangements, for … well, just for the love of them. We might even be known to over-collect, over-indulge, over-spend, and overly adore the best of our pots. And I am a gardener taken with the handcrafted pots of Claire Bandfield, a self-taught artist living in Camas, Washington. 

Photo used courtesy of Clare Cooper Marcus

The healing power of gardens and nature is well known to almost anyone who gardens and has been recorded by gardeners, landscape designers and medical practitioners as far back as antiquity. This week on Cultivating Place we’re joined by Dr. Clare Cooper Marcus, a leader in the field of evidence based research, education and design of what are alternatively known as healing gardens and therapeutic landscapes.

Photo courtesy Hunter Ten Broeck

This week on Cultivating Place, we talk land and water with Hunter Ten Broeck of WaterWise Landscapes Inc. in Albuquerque, NM. No matter where we live, or how differently our land and our water supplies and sources may look, our gardens and our nature love are wholly interdependent with these two much larger elemental forces.

Photo used courtesy of Loree Bohl

Danger: Home gardener, garden communicator and blogger Loree Bohl, loves a garden with stand-out foliage and  bold form. But pay attention to where you’re going, or as her mail carrier and her little dog Lila both know - it can be dangerous out there! As Loree writes on her blog: "Nice plants are boring – my love is for plants that can hurt you. Agave, yucca, anything with a spike or spur!” Join us for the next in our series of Dispatches from the Home Garden on Cultivating Place. 

Photos used courtesy of Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve

Last week we talked "Little House on the Prairie" and this week we visit the grassland prairies and plains of Kansas. According to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas and the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Texas, tallgrass prairie once covered between 170 to 250 million acres of North America – making it the largest ecosystem in the country. By 1860, the vast majority was developed and plowed under. Today less than 4 percent remains, mostly in the Kansas Flint Hills. 

We’re joined in conversation by Brad Guhr, education coordinator and prairie restoration ecologist for the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, Kansas. To learn more about this inspiring ecosystem based landscape - join us.

This week on Cultivating Place, we’re celebrating the February 7th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder with author and historian Marta McDowell. Her newest book is"The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books” (Timber Press, 2017)  – a surprising plant and environmental journey. 

This week on Cultivating Place, our next in the occasional series of Dispatches from the Home Garden — this time through the lens of a regional newspaper's gardening columnist. Every region needs a paper and at least one regionally knowledgeable gardening columnist. Laura Christman was that person in Redding, California, for the many years of her long career.

She's an avid home gardener and in our conversation, we explore the meaning of gardening through this particular lens of shared stories in a given time and place.

She writes: "Perhaps you are familiar with the term 'gardening.' It is a tangle of weirdness. Turns out there's more to it than growing a lovely lawn or prolific pepper plant."

Her book "Planet Pomegranate" is a collection of columns written for the Home & Garden section of the Record Searchlight, the daily newspaper in Redding. "The pieces are a mix of conversations, observation, reflections and frustrations…..and pomegranates." Join us!