top of page
  • Jennifer Jewell






The renowned British gardener and writer Vita Sackville-West stated that no room is complete without flowers - our whole month in celebration of Botanical Artistry proves theres many creative ways to get nature and flowers into the rooms of our lives.

This week Cultivating Place wraps up The Botanical Artistry of Artober 4 part series with Minneapolis-based 3-dimensional paper artist Ann Wood, of Woodlucker studio. Her individual, mixed-media sculptural lowers, fruits, vegetables and insects are painstakingly handcrafted. Her work is born of and grapples with the intricacies of the natural world - in her garden, in wider nature.

For the second part of episode we revisit a conversation with Vietnamese-born, New York-based artist and writer Ngoc Minh Ngo, who spoke to us about her book: "In Bloom: Creating and Living with Flowers", portraits of artists inspired by the natural world. She writes: "Our Craving to Connect with nature continues to be the perfect foil for the magic of the human imagination."

There is an ancient association between the natural and botanical world and the inspiration it provides to the visual and dimensional arts. Ann Wood and Ngoc Minh Ngo portray beautifully the endless creativity of botanical artistry.

Ann joins us from her studio in Minnesota; Ngoc visited with us from her home and studio in New York City.

My dad's final days were full of close observations of the beauty in nature;

something told me to pay attention to what he was experiencing.

This really gave me the permission to spend the

next phase of my creative life connecting more to people,

to really count, and to be seen."

Ann Wood, Artist Woodlucker Studio

Our craving to connect with nature continues to be the

perfect foil for the magic of the human imagination,"

Ngoc Minh Ngo - Landscape Photographer

"Julia wrote me a note following our conversation in which she shared: “The body of work I’m making for my upcoming Solo show is taking these “scientific native plant etchings” and local fauna and using them to create stories of the animals. There are direct references to known fables, but I am trying to reference them away from anthropomorphic ideals. The animals have their own story, separate from us. Their own nature should be revered, almost in a religious way, hence the arches, and decorative framing in my collages. They are almost – very sadly - martyrs to our “unnatural” world.I am not a fan of the actual paintings of the pre-raphaelites, but I do appreciate their love for early Italian renaissance art, the high detail, bright colors, and the depiction of nature within it. I love how in Early Italian renaissance painting each plant is painted individually, and that each plant is a specific species that holds symbolic meaning. I may be referencing this work in my collage, but I also am seeing the connection to textiles and William Morris/Arts and Crafts movement style imagery, which I know is closely tied to the Pre-Raphaelites. Maybe I am creating their heroic, nature filled, everyday life scenes, but with what personally gives me more inspiration, wilderness.



If you are interested in buying In Bloom AND in supporting Cultivating Place, purchase your book through this link at - you will support independent bookstores, writers and for every purchase made a small donation comes back to Cultivating Place. Which is a win-win-win. :) Thank you!

* * * * * * * *

It is October 25th, which means just 12 short days until our mid-term elections here in the United States.

One of the things I feel strongly and speak about repeatedly with gardeners is how every gardening action we take and every gardening dollar we spend is a VOTE. Ann Wood's parents VOTED for her creativity in this world when they allowed her to paint her entire bedroom as a girl with whatever whimsical plants and creatures she desired. And thank goodness they did.

Every gardening decision we make is quite literally a vote for what we believe in and value in this world. In this time in my life and in my place, I know how easy it is to have my everyday actions not actually align with my stated values – on planes, in cars, in the grocery store check out line. But just like gardening, checking in on our own alignment is a practice. So go ahead and practice – fall out of alignment and then strive to get realigned. I will be traveling the week of November 5th and so I researched and completed and mailed my ballot yesterday. I will miss getting my "I voted" Sticker from my local library on Tuesday Nov 6 – but I will know that I voted.

To garden in any capacity large or small is a privilege and choice – to vote is too. As nature loving gardeners in this world, I think we can agree we need to make both of these privileges count for more than just ourselves in this world.

Join us again next week as the conversations continue when we’re joined by Leah Penniman, founder of Soul Fire Farm in Petersburg, NY speaking to us about her work toward ending racism and injustice in our food system and about her new book “Farming While Black.”

There are so many ways that people engage in and grow from the cultivation of their places.

If you ever want to connect more directly to me – or to one another – comment on weekly posts on Instagram and Facebook – I always enjoy hearing from you and connecting back.

Cultivating Place is a listener-supported co-production of North State Public Radio.

To make your tax-deductible listener contribution – please click the donate button below.

Thank you in advance for your help making these valuable conversations grow.

Thank you for listening and for SHARING Cultivating Place WITH FRIENDS.

The value of conversations like these is powerful action for positive shifts in this world.

bottom of page