BEST OF: THE DANGER GARDEN, LOREE BOHL
Today we revisit a Best of Dispatches from the Home Garden episode. We do this in part because I love this episode, because it is deepest, darkest winter and who couldn’t use a hit of green, and because I would love to encourage listeners out there to consider being a Dispatches from the Home Garden guest on Cultivating Place – what do you think? If you might be interested, please send an email with relevant info - where you live, your garden story, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will look forward to hearing from you!
This week's guest is an avid home gardener, horticulturist and garden blogger cultivating form and foliage with decided flair in Portland, Oregon. In partnership with her husband Andrew, Loree Bohl has been designing, planting and loving her urban Portland, Oregon lot for more than 12 years. While the refrain from many a homeowner might be: less maintenance please, not so for this gardener.
Loree is the "head gardener" of their home garden, affectionately and professionally known as "The Danger Garden," a Portland urban-lot garden dedicated to traffic-stopping, often unusual plants with spikes and spines and thorns. A life-long gardener, it was not until Loree's first visit the American southwest for business that she realized her spirit plants were those that thrive in the desert. She’s figured out and shares with us today some creative techniques to adapt her Oregon garden to the plants she loves.
A committed and well-followed garden blogger since 2008, Loree documents the days, weeks, seasons and years of her garden in her on-line garden blog of the same name: The Danger Garden. Besides her own garden, Loree writes about interesting plants, other gardens, and other gardeners of note.
If you want to immerse yourself in the life and times of the Danger Garden, make sure to check out Loree’s blog where she posts at least annually a full visual tour of the garden. You can follow her on line at: www.thedangergarden.com; on Instagram: @thedangergarden; or, Facebook: Danger Garden.
She joins us today from the Studios of Oregon Public Broadcasting from downtown Portland
“Gardening on social media is an amazing thing – to be able to connect to gardeners all over the world and learn from them- see how they’re growing plants, have them send you plants, we’re all learning from each other – it’s absolutely amazing.”
Loree Bohl, The Danger Garden
A 10 hour a week or more gardener who moves hundreds of plants under cover, under lights, and back out again throughout the seasons in order to ensure their survival and thriving, I think we can say – she’s a dirt under your nails kind of gardener.
A side note, since our conversation of almost exactly a year ago now, the sweet gardening companion chug Lila passed away. Revisiting this episode is dedicated to her memory.
"Nice plants are boring – my love is for plants that can hurt you. Agave, yucca, anything with a spike or spur!”
Loree Bohl, The Danger Garden
THINKING OUT LOUD this week..
I love that you’re here with me and with Loree Bohl – her whole story of The Danger Garden’s genesis and journey inspires me. The very physical and real relationship she has with her plants – and her active engagement with the beauty to found in their strengths – and dangers.
For me this is an interesting articulation of what may of us enjoy about the garden – the nitty gritty, the challenge, the embodiment of the fact that it is hard, physical work that can sometimes draw blood, almost always draws sweat, and sometimes draws tears. But if it was too easy – would we love it as much? Not me. And I am guessing not you. The fact that our garden and nature loves calls on us to push ourselves past our known limits sometimes, asking for us to show up as physical beings, as intellectual beings and as spiritual beings – this is a big part of why we love it, I think. It’s not always easy and there’s not just one definition or embodiment of beauty.
In last week’s episode with Sara Bir, we heard her talk about foraging for fruit and how in her youth and early ignorance, she had sometimes taken fruit from people’s trees overhanging streets, etc, without permission. In this week’s episode we hear from Loree how sometimes people will pick a wavy piece of Manzanita bark from the sidewalk for its ornamental beauty and they will look around as if to wonder – is it ok to take this? Following up on an email from listener Jessica Morrison, I want to remind listeners that taking fruit from private property is in fact theft, and without appropriate permits on public land, it is likewise against the law. As Jessica writes: “I had several experiences with people coming onto my property and taking fruit (not just one or two pieces, but baskets and bags), that I had lovingly cultivated, and spent an inordinate amount of money organically treating and amending. This is not a practice that is appreciated.” And as Sara Bir states in no uncertain terms, a very good common sense rule of thumb is this: If taking something makes you a jerk, don’t do it.”
Are you loving this conversation with Loree? I am.
The depth of her attachment to her garden, to its individual plants – to her husband Andrew and their chug Lila and how they are all in this garden life together. But clearly Loree is the head gardener, spending 10 or more hours gardening each week. That’s kind of a tough question to answer - how many hours do you spend in your garden each week? For me it depends on seasons – real seasons, but also seasons of life – how happy or sad I might be, how busy my desk life or my daughter’s lives are, as well. I would estimate that in my small suburban garden I spend between 2 and 10 hours a week – and it always improves my mood and perspective – even when it’s – maybe especially when it’s doing something mundane like weeding or something kind of gross like cutting back mushy winter die back. What do you think – what about you? This is what I mean when I ask people what their gardening “practice” is – it’s how we intentionally incorporate this activity of body and mind into more of our everyday lives for our own wellbeing and sanity. It’s also a social activity as Loree points out - sharing this practice with others makes it all the better.
Speaking of sharing, if you love Cultivating Place, we would love it if you told a friend about the podcast. Tell your best friend, your gardening group, your neighbor with amazing window boxes, the people who work down at the nursery. Share this experience with them! Help them subscribe to the show on their phones, or show them our Instagram account.
Along with sunlight, regular watering, and some care and attention, word of the mouth is the best way for podcasts to grow.
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