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

Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden is a weekly public radio podcast on gardens and gardening as integral to our natural and cultural literacy. 

A co-production of North State Public Radio (KCHO 91.7 FM in Chico, CA and KFPR 88.9 FM in Redding, CA) and Jewellgarden.comCultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden airs Thursdays at 10:00 AM and again Thursday evenings at 6:30 PM PST. The program is created and hosted by Jennifer Jewell; produced and engineered by Sarah Bohannon. Music by Matt Shilts, Ben Colbeck and Delarte Music.

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 and Stitcher

photographed by Tessa Traeger, all rights reserved and used by permission of the artist and Quadrille Press.

Close to 21 years ago, a cordon blue trained chef and business woman named Jane Scotter left a busy city life in London and bought a farm. She was joined not long after by another professional chef, Harry Astley. Together the two have taken their 16 idyllic acres in Herefordshire, England and crafted a life fully integrated and interdependent with the land, its plants and animals, their food and their own sense of purpose.

courtesy of Dennis Mudd. All Rights Reserved.

It is California Native Plant Week this week. Officially designated by the California Native Plant Society in 2010, this year the festivities and educational and awareness activities are scheduled all week April 15–23.

In celebration of this and in honor of the many native landscapes I love, and native plants that bring beauty, life and a deep sense of place to my home garden, this week I am pleased to welcome Dennis Mudd to Cultivating Place. Dennis is a retired tech industry CEO and developer of such things as MusicMatch and Slacker Radio. He is also an avid native plant home gardener in Poway – near San Diego. 

“Useful, with a pleasant degree of humor” — that is the tag line for the Old Farmer’s Almanac, an annual handbook for American growers, farmers and gardeners — celebrating its 225th year in publication this year. Every year for the past 225 years, farmers, gardeners, landholders and growers of all kinds have been consulting the Old Farmer’s Almanac for weather predictions, growing suggestions and important dates based on — among other things — astronomy.

Laura Wilson

If you’re like me, you love getting out into your own garden, but visiting someone else’s garden is almost as good — there’s just less weeding required. The end of March/beginning of April is also the unofficial kick off of garden-visiting season, with garden tours and open garden days on local, regional and national levels, and of all shapes and sizes, getting started now and running right through to November in some parts of the country.

Gardenways and "The Chinese Kitchen Garden" - a conversation with gardener and author, Wendy Kiang-Spray

I am fairly accustomed to hearing the phrases “folk ways” and “food ways” and even ‘music ways” to describe the history, traditions, and myths associated with these subject areas in distinct locations or cultures. Only recently have I come to think of the history and traditions one brings to the garden or gardening as our “garden ways” – and the garden ways of other people are endlessly fascinating to me as one lens by which we see the world/one lens by which others can learn something of importance about us and who we are.

Stefani Bittner, Homestead Design Collective

Sometimes when you use the word garden – people immediately conjure up images of the ornamental perennial border, other people however conjure up colorful visions of the summer vegetable garden. In July of 2016, we were joined by Stefani Bittner of Homestead Design Collective discussing her work as ornamental edible landscape designer. Early in 2017, her most recent and beautiful book, Harvest, was published by  10 Speed Press. Stefani co-wrote Harvest – Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary garden Plants with Alethea Harampolis.

Richard Johnston

It is the eve of St. Patrick’s Day and it does seem that even if you’re not Irish per se, St. Patrick’s Day brings out a little bit of Irish in us all. And while I have no interest in green beer, I do have an interest in the green of the garden. To celebrate this – today we’re pleased to be joined by Fionnuala Fallon, a horticulturist, garden writer, garden designer and organic flower farmer, and gardening correspondent for 'The Irish Times' since 2011.

Courtesy of Christin Geall, Cultivated. Victoria BC

Every garden has a story as does every gardener. In our next in the occasional series of Dispatches From the Home Garden, today we travel to the Pacific Northwest and cross the border to Canada, where we speak with a gardener, writer and floral designing flower farmer who joins us via skype.

There is a flower farming revolution sweeping across our country and I for one am all for it. A few months back, Cultivating Place was joined by Debra Prinzing, the founder of the aptly named “slow flowers” and "American Grown Flower" movement in the floral industry. This week we’re joined by Erin Benzakien – the name and face behind the beautiful and impassioned Floret Flower Farms, based in the Skagit Valley of Washington State.

As gardeners or naturalists, we often share an urge to display our love – flowers or fruits of the season arranged in bottles and vases, in bowls and on platters. The deep beauty of the harvest and the season have a strong call. As gardeners who harvest food and flowers, as nature lovers who gently forage fallen moss, lichen, stones, feathers, or cooks who prepare our fruits, vegetables and foraged edibles we all experience that moment – perhaps daily of saying: what will I put that in? What vase, large or small, what dinner plate, what cake plate, what bowl? 

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