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

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.

 

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.  

Photo courtesy of the SPP.

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. 

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). 

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.

Jennifer Jewell

 

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.

Photo courtesy of Old House Garden.

 


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. 

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.

 

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. 

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