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  • Jennifer Jewell


Tucker's riff off of an Italian scene in his Southern Californian garden. Photo by Tucker Fitzpatrick, all rights reserved.


Two weeks ago we began a meta gardening theme in conversation with architect David Abelow today we continue in this mode with Southern California gardener, father, and lawyer, Tucker Fitzpatrick whose international travels have him thinking a lot about how cultural norms and biases directly impact how and why we garden in interesting ways.

Tucker is a father to son Brady, a lawyer, a gardener and a gardening culture observer. He joins us today from his home and garden in Southern California to share more about his gardening journey and his curiosity and observations on his garden and gardening culture writ large.

he shares how he came to be in this house and garden and some of the influences, Tucker travels a great deal for work and this travel allows him time and space and exposure to garden cultures around the world – he’s sharing more about his own garden life journey, his curiosity and garden culture observations. As we move into the final part of our conversation, Tucker and I consider some of cultural differences and similarities we’ve observed in different garden cultures around the world

Tucker and I have communicated back and forth – as I do with a great many of you - about this interesting consideration on why different cultures support and raise up and value gardening or don’t. In one of his emails he wrote:

I think we Americans are predisposed to chasing shiny, new objects and de-emphasizing tradition. The other side of this coin is our society's emphasis on individuality. Both sides of this coin are reflected in our gardening practice.

When you travel to other countries, especially those with long histories, you can’t help but be impressed by their palaces and gardens, and the long history of gardening rooted in their history, philosophy and sense of beauty. These traditions can reverberate into popular culture in these countries, creating an even higher profile for gardening. We don’t have as much of this type of cultural legacy, and ours competes in the popular culture sphere with the shiny, new toys we are so fond of.

Since tradition is sparser in the US, our gardening is more grass roots (not top down), and we each follow more individual paths. The individuality and diversity in our large country makes it hard to achieve the critical mass needed to transcend the niche into popular culture or the national consciousness for any particular embodiment of American gardening.

In the US we seem to have very many historic gardening institutions and societies that reflect our different gardening interests. Like gardening organizations, the garden media we have represents a few of the segments of our diverse gardening interests.

For me personally, gardening is based on what I find rewarding. I pick which traditions appealed to me based on what I’ve discovered over the years. My garden isn’t a cottage style or a Mediterranean style, it’s just my favorite parts of whatever styles I happen to see, read about or hear about on podcasts. Spoken like a true American, right?

If you have thoughts you’d like to share about the nature of the culture of gardening where you are – I’d love you to read them – send me a voice memo or an email to


Books on origins of gardening style and/or practices in different countries and regions

International Garden Design History

Carter, George, "Setting the Scene: A Garden Design Masterclass from Repton to the Modern Age", Pimpernel Press Limited, 2018.

Chisolm, Linda A., "The History of Landscape Design in 100 Gardens", Timber Press 2018

Clarke, Ethne, "The Midcentury Modern Landscape", Gibbs Smith

Hartlage, Richard and Fischer, Sandy, "The Authentic Garden: Naturalistic and Contemporary Landscape Design", The Monacelli Press, 2015

(Discusses origins of different contemporary U.S. garden styles.)

Rogers, Elizabeth Barlow, "Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History", Abrams, 2001

"The Gardener’s Garden: Inspiration across Continents and Centuries", Phaidon,

Region- or Country-Specific Garden History and Origins

Keane, Marc Peter, Japanese Garden Design, Tuttle Publishing, 1996

Smithen, Jan, Sun-Drenched Gardens: The Mediterranean Style, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2002

Wijaya, Made, Tropical Garden Design, Archipelago Press, 1999

Focus on California Garden Design History

Comras, Kelly, "Ruth Shellhorn", The University of Georgia Press, 2016

French, Jere Stuart, "The California Garden and the Landscape Architects who Shaped It", Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd, 1993

Power, Nancy Goslee, "The Gardens of California: Four Centuries of Design from Mission to Modern", Hennessey + Ingalls, 2001

Streatfield, David C., "California Gardens: Creating a New Eden", Abbeville Press

Follow along with Tucker's garden life journey on Instagram:;



Ok so thinking out loud this week, my conversation with Tucker got me thinking about and looking for what I am now in my mind and hashtag collection calling #publicdemonstrationsofgardening – because while we are a large and beautifully diverse country of complex contradictions, crimes, and contrasts – we include a great many self-identified gardeners.

38% percent at last check – as we gardeners know it is a human impulse. And so maybe it’s just that we need to raise up and center our leaders and shakers who do encourage, advocate for and creatively engage in this human endeavor?

Michelle Obama did get them to rip up that great big lawn, Martha Stewart put the idea of beautiful functional and civic gardening at the heart of her empire along with food and home skills - Oprah loves her garden her plants, her fruit and veg and fresh air – Robin Wall Kimmerer took the literary and horticultural world and expanded its vocabulary and imagination with Braiding Sweetgrass Leah Penniman and her work at Soul Fire Farm and Kristyn Leach at Namu Farm…. These are some of my public gardeners of the moment on my garden hero list. Along with Tucker Fitzpatrick in his garden, and you in yours, me in mine.

We are legion and we make a difference – to our communities, our economies, our families, and our larger environmental health. One #publicdemonstrationofgardening at a time.




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