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  • Jennifer Jewell, Cultivating Place


Mondardella villosa (Coyote Mint) and Checkerspot butterfly - South Warner Mountain Wilderness, CA- June, 2018.

Summer is for slowing down, right? Thus the quite later-than-usual A View From Here newsletter from Cultivating Place. I have my excuses. I do. Mostly they fall under the heading of: Jennifer is away from her desk right now, she will get back to you as soon as she returns. That and: Jennifer is busy meeting her book manuscript deadline, she will get back to you in late Fall/early Winter.

After the fire: new life - South Warner Mountain Wilderness Area - June, 2018

Yes. I have had several truly wonderful summer plant/landscape outings - to the South Warner Mountain Wilderness Area of Northeastern California, a hike up Mt. Eddy outside of Weed, CA with plantswoman/Forest Service Field Botanist Julie Nelson, to plantswoman Betsy Clebsch's home garden in Woodside, CA and to Little Compton, RI where I had the fun of visiting several gardens and engaged in the wild life that is extended family.

Each outing roots me more firmly in why I am here: our gardens and our natural environments are (and should rightly be) directly related. They don't have to look exactly the same as one another, but - if healthy - our gardens should support, refer to and reflect their elder natural environments. They should be beneficial progeny - not cumbersome ones.

And we should all be striving to becoming the elders/ancestors we know our young and the future deserve.

What we talk about when we talk about summer: Native Plant Lessons from Salvia dorrii and yellow Eriogonum sp. Are they not a perfect pair? I like how the landscape looks a little uninviting from a distance - dry, going summer dormant, but when you get close up there are these pockets of vibrant bloom and color.

South Warner Mountain Wilderness - June, 2018

And yes. I am working diligently - sequestered at my desk when not out on field trips - writing.

It's been a few months now (6.5) and I am finally sharing this news, because the fear of failure is finally balanced out enough by the light at the end of the tunnel. It is good/great/terrifying/perspective altering: I am writing a book on the current state of women in horticulture (as represented by 75 women) at the invitation of Timber Press. Should be on shelves in Fall of 2019. I am so honored to do this work, to have been asked. And I'm intimidated (read: terrified).

For the past 6.5 months I have been stalking/tracking/considering/researching/interviewing/being inspired by women from around the world doing interesting and field-expanding work with plants in our world. They may not always be the women you'd expect, they may not even be women you've heard of, but to my mind they each represent women working in plants and making our world a better more thoughtful, interdependent (and beautiful) place.

Here's how I interpreted my very general invitation to author this book:

"The mission of this book is to acknowledge the legacy of the women who’ve made important contributions to our area of expertise (which is the big wide diverse world of life with plants), and to celebrate the many ways in which women’s work in this field has come to the fore in the 21st century (so, last 25 years or so). The 75 profiles will focus on women currently contributing to work in the plant world at all levels: plant biology, botany, ecology, horticulture, floriculture, garden literature, foodways/gardenways, social justice, public policy and administration of public gardens, photography and more.

Some of the primary threads of inquiry on my part will be how the plant world is improved as a result of being more representative (not only allowing for more women to excel, but also a greater diversity of women); how it is a far more viable and creative/innovative career path for women at this point in time; how this plant-work world is demonstrating greater social and environmental responsibility, in no small part due to increasing numbers of women’s contributions; and finally, how our human engagement with plants connects us to the natural world/stewardship, to our communities, and to our selves on powerful intellectual, physical and spiritual levels."

For the record, I like men fine. But that wasn't the invitation and as a daughter of a plantswoman, granddaughter to two strong women, sister to two more, niece to five others, aunt to three and mother to two - I'm good with what feels to be female and matrilineal - no matter where you place yourself on the gender scale. Our voice, our strength, our experience and our responsibilities. It's a facet of the larger prism that I'm happy to hold generous space for.

But, scary right? And yet - what's worth doing that's not a little outside-our-comfort-zone scary?

Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) - South Warner Mountain Wilderness - June, 2018

I will of course keep you posted on how the process continues - on who and when and how soon and where. That kind of thing.

Until then - get outside and play for heaven's sake. Roll around in a field, watch for fireflies and dragonflies and butterflies. Inhale the scent of flowers and conifer needles and summer storms ..... inhale life. And I hope you enjoy the slide show of "What I Did This Summer" from John and my trip to the South Warner Mountain Wilderness in Northeastern California.

These seemed so much more engaging and pertinent than a photo of me sitting at my desk....writing. :)

Thank you all, as always, for reading/listening - for being on this path and in this conversation.




In July of 2018:

Well because of my #slowsummer #fieldtrips and #writingdeadlines - we're already part way through the month already, aren't we? But that's ok.

We started off July engaging in a conversation with plantspeople Julie Nelson and Michael Kauffmann about how and why and when we collect (or don't) wild plants. And how our own lust for plants might add to this larger world of acquisition and greed and ultimately unethical collection of wild plants because there are hungry markets that want those plants - this conversation starts with the recent poaching of Dudleya plants along California's coastline; we moved then to wonderful group chat with staff from the Beth Chatto Gardens in England to honor the grand dame of gardening and to hear more about her ongoing legacy starting NOW with the Beth Chatto Garden Symposium coming up this August; looking forward we visit The New England Wildflower Society and hear updates on their outreach efforts in book and workshop format and we finish off the month with a little FLORAL and GARDEN FUN when we're joined by Tovah Martin and her new book: "The Garden in Every Sense and Season." Genius.

Thank you as always for listening, your comments and emails, and for your support. Cultivating Place is a deeply grateful - heart-full - community-and-listener-supported endeavor.

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Lewisia rediviva - South Warner Mountain Wilderness - June, 2018

Lewisia rediviva and company - South Warner Mountain Wilderness - June, 2018

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