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  • Jennifer Jewell, Cultivating Place


A foraged bouquet in Abiquiu, NM. Native plants and roadside beauties.

This last month of Cultivating Place conversations all shared a strong theme of relatedness.

Dr. Lauren E. Oakes examined the relationship between Alaskan Yellow Cedar stands being impacted by the climate crisis and the communities of other plants, animals, and people who lived with them; Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Design in San Francisco considered the importance in her life of her (and all of our) relationships to our indoor plants - how they keep us company and communicate with us in their own ways; Dean Kuipers' whole memoir "The Deer Camp" is a celebration of how his human family relations were restored when they as humans restored their relationship to their land - in his study and personal experiences born out there is straight related line between the health of our lands and environmental communities and our individual and communal mental health.

And Margaret Renkl, whose regular writings in The New York Times always resonate, distilled it into "kinship" and articulated it so clearly in our conversation: "I like to emphasize that kinship because when people feel connected they don’t feel powerless, they feel empowered to do what they can. Often it’s just a matter of saying here’s something you can do: Plant more trees, plant more coneflowers, plant more zinnias. It’s not hard, it’s not enough, but it’s also not nothing."

Mating and Migrating Monarchs in Brattleboro, VT home garden. Small unrelentingly practical solutions to our biggest problems start right where we are - in our own back gardens.

In this past month, we as a larger human community welcomed the Equinox, which is determined by our earthly and physical relationship to the sun, we witnessed the Climate Strike begun by one powerful girl who refuses to let us continue failing our relationship to the planet and to one another, especially our future generations.

I personally visited family in Tacoma, Washington, Brattleboro, Vermont, and Abiquiu, New Mexico - getting a daughter settled in college, visiting elders in need of time and care. Each of these places is very, very different: redwoods and cedars along the Washington Coast; colorful sugar and swamp maples, and the mouthwatering deliciousness of apple season in Southern Vermont; autumnal yellowing, singing, cottonwood bosques against painted desert in New Mexico.

And yet there was a distinct relatedness too: the feel of a dorm room, the feel of a shared hospital room. The universal beauty of the sight and sound of waterfowl, monarchs, and hummingbirds migrating, plants turning their autumnal colors, setting their annual store of seed, and all living beings floral and faunal preparing for this next season.

These are all related. We are all related.

Kinship is a joy and a responsibility of noticing, naming, tending. Of being present and accounted for in every way we can.

A Queen bee visit - home garden, Brattleboro, VT

On the #MyplantofthemonthCP front, Debi Durham writes in with: "In my new world after the Camp Fire. I am identifying many new plants that were never a part of my two and a half acres. Today, I pulled Bermuda Grass, the same species that plagues me at my rental in Chico. Speaking of my rental, and Ailanthus, Tree of Heaven, poked its invasive head next to a Crape Myrtle. HA...have been battling them for years on my Paradise property, and the show up in Chico to remind me my job is never done. I have learned about Poke Berries and Elderberries. which are coming p like gangbusters in Paradise. The blackberries that I thought were eradicated by the fire are back...with a vengeance. Days slip by to week, and weeks to months, I am being healed by my someday garden, and am learning patience from my eradicating tasks."

And Barbara Condon of Butte County, CA with this: "I have the intention of learning the names of my green friends here in my place, and the plant (or two or three) a day plan appeals to me. "

Over on Instagram, Roberta of Columbine LLC in Norwalk, CT; Misti Little of The Garden Path Podcast in Houston, TX; Kathy LaShure of Chico, CA; Amy Coutu of Hueful Habitat in Santa Cruz, CA; Lindsay Claire Newman, a teacher and artist from Illinois/Indiana area; and Jeron Chamberlain all shared images of their newly learned plant friends over on Instagram this past month.

See captions on each below for more details.

THANK YOU ALL FOR PLAYING ALONG - I am learning right along with you.

In appreciation for being in this together,


and the Cultivating Place Team



(just click the live link that is the green title of each program to get to the audio file and listen in....)

Redwhisker clammyweed (and little friend) - Butte County, CA




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The labyrinth at Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM.

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