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

Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.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 and again Thursday evenings at 6:30 PM PST. 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

"All the Presidents' Gardens," Timber Press 2016

In this election year, and with the Independence Day holiday just past, we have something of a patriotic garden theme going. This week, we’re joined by Marta McDowell, a gardener, historian and writer who lives in Chatham, New Jersey. Her self-described greatest interest lies in the relationship between writers and their gardens — the connection, as she says, “between pen and trowel.” This interest is well-illustrated and developed in her titles to date including “Emily Dickinson’s Gardens,” “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life,” and most recently the patriotic history of the White House Gardens entitled: “All the Presidents’ Gardens” out now from Timber Press, and the focus of our conversation.

Cultivating Place: Gardens For Heroes

Jun 30, 2016
Gardens for Heroes

Are you a person who takes refuge in the natural world or your home garden? If so, then you appreciate the many benefits of these for regrouping from life’s stresses, large and small. As we look to the Fourth of July, we’re joined this week by Ann Mead Daniel, co-founder with her husband Scott Robertson of Gardens for Heroes. It’s a young non-profit in the Washington DC area, whose work seeks to help wounded veterans and their families find space and resources for regrouping and healing in the context of their own home gardens.

John Whittlesey

This week on Cultivating Place, we’re joined by Genny Arnold, Seed Program Manager at the Theodore Payne Foundation who speaks with us about the care and long-term keeping of our native geophytes — those coolest of plants which have an underground storage organ, like a bulb or tuber or corm, which helps them to withstand some of the planet’s harshest conditions: cold, heat, drought and dark. Or a hot dry California summer.

California is home to close to 300 species of native geophytes, many of which are now rare or endangered. This spring, after a winter of closer-to-normal rainfalls, many of our bulbs are treating us to a particularly spectacular year of bloom.

Jennifer Jewell

The impulse to garden is prismatic, right? It's about connection, about beauty, about plants, about productivity and self-sufficiency, about health and community. It can be political. It can be spiritual.

Is the impulse that draws people to cultivate their home gardens the same one that draws them to and grounds them in farming? When we say farm, what are the lines between small farms, family farms, and large tracts of mono-culture farming that we might place under an umbrella we’d call perhaps Big Agriculture — where the human it seems is more removed from any discernible connection to land and is more focused on commodity? This week we’ll explore some of these questions with Lundberg Family Farms. 

John Whittlesey

Flower gardens grow flowers, vegetable gardens grow vegetables, and, yes, butterfly gardens grow butterflies. This week on Cultivating Place we’re joined by Matthew Shepherd of the Xerces Society, a national nonprofit organization based in Portland, Ore., which protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. For more than 40 years, the society has been at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.

Cultivating Place: Andrea Wulf

Jun 2, 2016

Ever wonder how a plant got its name? Or for whom it was named and why? Those are the sorts of questions that started historian and author Andrea Wulf down the path of her research. This week on Cultivating Place, we’re joined by Ms. Wulf, the author of multiple books exploring the ways nature, botany and horticulture influence art, science, politics, human culture and even the development of nations.

Jennifer Jewell

Salvias are among my favorite of flowers. Do I say that about a different plant group just about every other week? It could be. Let’s say then that this week, this time of year, salvias are among my very favorite of flowering plant groups. And it’s a big and diverse group, so you’re not bound to get bored with them any time soon. In my current suburban garden – small no matter how you slice it – I have nine salvias and counting. In some of our recent Cultivating Place conversations we have heard of the value of salvias for pollinators and habitat and the many native salvias in California.

Today we’re going to dig a little deeper into this well-loved cornerstone herbaceous perennial with Salvia expert Ernie Wasson.

Mia Lehrer and Associates

We all know that human development impacts nature, and that the most developed of human spaces — cities — without any nature in them, negatively impacts humans. Since the very beginnings of the fields of landscape architecture and public planning, there have been designers, builders, thinkers and dreamers who have worked to interweave nature — its sense of green, of refuge, or peace — into these otherwise very inorganic areas, for the benefit of both the ecological world and the benefit of humans. Think of Frederick Law Olmstead’s work in New York’s Central Park and many, many other urban parks across the country at the turn of the 19th century. To varying degrees of success, generations of landscape architects since Olmstead have carried the torch.

John Whittlesey / Canyon Creek Nursery and Design

This week on Cultivating Place, we’re joined by Dr. Gordon Frankie, professor and researcher at the University of California Berkeley and founder/director there of the Urban Bee Lab, research initiative on the lives of California’s native bees.

Co-author of “California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists,” Gordon loves bees! Since 1987, he has been studying bee-flower relationships in urban gardens and landscapes and educating on the ways in which home gardeners and public landscapes can help our many native bees as they suffer the consequences of lost, degraded or fragmented native habitat. His work can be followed at helpabee.org.

Jennifer Jewell

Nothing says place like the cultivation and caring for the plants native to your place. As gardeners we hear a lot about native plants. This is perhaps especially true in the past 20 years or so. And it is perhaps especially true in California, one of the 33 biodiversity hotspots in the world and home to an astounding number of native and endemic natives – meaning those natives that only occur in their specific locations here. 

Today we’re joined by two people who have been on a leading edge of the ever-increasing interest in California Native Plants for the home gardener for the past 35 years. In 1981 Sherrie Althouse and Phil Van Soelen were two young twenty-somethings who began the unconventional California Flora Nursery — one of the oldest native plant nurseries in the state, located in Sonoma County.

Pages