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

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. 

Photo courtesy of Michael Kauffmann

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. 

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.  

courtesy of the Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, MA all rights reserved.

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!

Clarkson Potter, 2014

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. 

Jennifer Jewell

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.

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! 

(U.S. Army photo by Rachel Larue/Arlington National Cemetery/released)

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.

Pages