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

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. 

Photo by K. Foster.

Dr. Peter Raven is one of the leading plant biologists in the world today, having begun his botanical and natural history journey falling in love with the plants and animals of Central California, the Sierra Nevada and under the encouragement and mentorship of many leaders in the field at the California Academy of Sciences beginning when he was 8 years old. Dr. Raven is President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, one of the country’s top three botanical research institutions. Dr.

    

It's late summer. The light is shifting incrementally each day now — tilting toward a new season. I notice especially in those transitory, crepuscular moments of dawn and dusk. The light is moving towards a new, quieter season in the garden and the colors of my garden are shifting with it. Some of the saturation is waning, other shades are deepening, bright giving way — very slowly, almost imperceptibly — to earthy.

This week on Cultivating Place, life in the garden gets a little more wild when we speak with Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, California director of the National Wildlife Federation. Beth is the author of the recently released book titled "When Mountain Lions are Neighbors - People and Wildlife Working it Out in California.” 

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 – beginning to groan this time of year under the abundance and literal weight of the summer harvest of tomatoes, peppers, corn, zucchini and so on. 

Humble Roots Nursery

Kristin Currin is owner and founder with her husband Drew Merritt of Humble Roots Native Plant Nursery in Mosier, Oregon.

Situated at the interface between temperate rain forest, the Great Basin and the Columbia River Gorge, Humble Roots has a mission to inspire gardeners, nature lovers and conservationists to deepen their relationship with native plants. 

courtesy of Debra Prinzing and Slowflowers.com

Cultivating Place this week welcomes Debra Prinzing, the producer of slowflowers.com, the online directory to American flower farms, and florists, shops and studios who source domestic and local flowers. 

I would be surprised if most people I spoke to today — pretty much no matter where I might be in the US — were not familiar with the term slow food. 

Are you familiar with the term and movement known as Slow Flowers? 

"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.

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