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  • Jennifer Jewell


Tools of my garden life: gloves, clippers, wire, circle hoe and grandfather's hammer. Choosing the right tools makes a difference. Photo by J. Jewell.



This week on Cultivating Place, I'm so excited to offer you our first ever seasonal special celebrating this season of harvest, of taking stock, of giving back, of deep GRATITUDE and of preparing for the restorative dark of winter ahead. Our central conversation is with earth artist Day Schildkret, who makes meaning and beauty with his daily practice, and now global outreach of Morning Altars. Woven throughout the telling of Day's journey and the story of Morning Altars, gardeners from around the world share with us what gratitude in the garden looks like to them.

The late autumn into winter months – from the Harvest Moon rising in October to the Winter Solstice on December 21st and through the beginning of the new calendar year, mark traditional seasons of gratitude, of giving thanks, and of offerings of generous service. For me - my garden itself and my gardening practice are my very best, most consistent acts of both gratitude and service to the world – and I know many other gardener’s and cultivators who feel the same.

The garden – very much like the grace that writer and thinker Anne Lamott references in relation to divine grace - rises to meet many gardeners where we are and - sometimes – it does not leave us where we started, but nurtures us along further than we believed was possible.

This special celebrates, explores and honors the abundance our gardens and nature brings to us, as well as all that we grow while we are there. We hope you enjoy the central conversation as much as you do the many voices of gardeners from around the world who shares with us their own thoughts on what gratitude in the garden looks like to them. As gardeners and outdoor advocates, I think our gardens and outdoor spaces grant us intuitive deep listening and looking moments, of mystery and wonder and day dreaming that like winter’s darkness and dormancy itself – restores us.

Morning Altars artist Day Shildkret creates a practice of mindfulness and offering with his floral, foliage, seed and other natural material foraged Morning Altars. Each one is different. Just as the word garden means and looks like something different to each person, so too what we each bring to the garden and what we receive in return from these - at best - symbiotic relationships we have with these very personal spaces, is different. Ranging from light and airy, playful and bright, other times quiet and contemplative.

Picture this: a land based work of art – it is peaceful and inviting, I see bright orange and pink flowers – they look to be fragrant – like roses or peonies, I see deep blue green coniferous branches with scaly textural needles, I see structural brown cones and bright red berries, I see chartreuse seedpods forming a unifying pattern and shape to the whole. In this still view, there is also dynamic movement.

I could be standing in the center of a garden.

For some time now, I’ve been following the work of Day Schildkret, whose most prominent project is known as Morning Altars. The concept, and gratitude and service project to the world, is one part daily forage and mandala building out of natural objects, one part lesson on beauty and impermanence. As you might imagine, it resonates globally. Day is a beauty bringer and his work encourages people – and gardeners – to be deep listeners to the ways of their place.

In honor of this season of harvest, of taking stock and giving thanks, Day joins us.

When you’re seeing something as though it will only last for that moment,

you really feel like you’re in something alive, because you know it will end.

There’s always something to make meaning of in life, to acknowledge

as a milestone, there are emotions to process, or some

reason to just praise being alive.”

Morning Altars creator, Day Schildkret


Morning Altars is a practice, like that of every gardener I know, including the gardener’s who offered their own voices to the gardeners gratitude gathering, which reconnects to our own sense of wonder, mystery, grace and play. His circles and squares, triangles and star shaped, among other, designs are full of colorful flowers, foliage form, shapely fruit, fun and LIFE – in all its stages, beauty and mystery.

Make sure to check out the 2018 Morning Altars calendar rich with images of these works of earth art!

Follow Morning Altars on Instagram and Facebook to get a daily dose of such beauty AND get the first word when the Morning Altars book is out in fall 2018.

Thank you gardeners from around the world who submitted their gratitude in the garden clips throughout this special episode.

You may not know it, but what I love most about this program are the connections I make with you – gardeners out there and around the world. We are everywhere and as more than one Cultivating Place guest has reminded us, our work and our human impulse to garden is important. It makes a difference to our mindsets, to our families, to our communities and to our environments. Following your journeys in the garden and this week hearing about what gratitude in the garden looks like to you is so fun and inspiring to me.

What does gratitude in the garden look like to you? Send photos - send your gratitude in the garden stories - we'd love to hear!

May the fall into winter season be one of festivity and an ever-growing gratitude in your garden.

NOTE: This week's Gratitude in the Garden special will be aired in its entirety at 6 pm PST on

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