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  • Jennifer Jewell


Matt Mattus - - Plantsman. Photo courtesy of Matt Mattus - all rights reserved.


Matt Mattus is a well known horticulturist, plantsman gardener and author. His Growing with Plants Blog and hist first book Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening inspirational and aspirational for gardeners of all levels.

Matt is the third generation of his family to cultivate the land he lives and gardens with. A graphic and advertising designer in the toy industry for much of his career to date, he has a strong practical and aesthetic sense which he brings to bear on his lifelong love of plants and gardening. In our conversation, he shares his experience working at a Fletcher Steele designed garden when he was in high school to creating a "fake" portfolio and going on to become a graphic designer ultimately ending up in the world of toys at Hasbro for a 30 year career.

A consummate plantsman working hobbyist for most of his life till now, Matt is now at it full-time as a grower, blogger, author, and photographer.

Matt joins us this week from the PRX Podcast Garage in Cambridge, MA to share more about his interesting and sometimes unlikely journey as a plantsman and how and why plantspeople matter…Matt’s at work on a new book about interesting flower garden additions both new and the old.

"we all have a personal experience with fragrance or with the beauty of plants or the curiosity of a rare plant - very much like design or architecture - we want what’s new or what’s old."."

Matt Mattus, Plantsman

Creator of Growing With Plants Blog

Also in conversation, Matt and I explore some of the universal cycles of garden desire – and the importance of valuing and preserving "Variety and Rarity" - a chapter in Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening in our plants for our own interests in the new, the old, and the unusual but also for the sake of the genetic pool, and independence in seed and plant economies. As we come back, he is likening our culture need to learn more about these concepts to how the culture has shifted regarding food culture in the past few decades.

Follow along with Matt's garden and plantlife journey online: GrowingWithPlants; Instagram: @Matt_Mattus, or Facebook: Matt Mattus

AND - Join us again next week when we here in my region mark and honor the anniversary of last year’s many large fires in California, including the Camp Fire, which broke out on November 8th, 2018. We’ll be joined by Southern Californian Doug Kent, author of Firescaping, and by two members of the Butte County Fire Safe Council to discuss how gardeners can be critical emissaries of good care practices – for soil, habitat, community, and catastrophic events like fire, flood, and more. No matter where you live.



SO.....a couple of things:

I've had more comments than usual from you all these past few weeks letting me know how much the conversations with David Abelow and Tucker Fitzpatrick resonated with you all and got you thinking about culture and gardening – what grows it and what diminishes it.

It’s been great to hear from you – I had notes from Isa Catto In Aspen, from Mandy in Sussex England, from Amy in Santa Cruz, CA, and from Josh in east Tennessee - all with thoughts on this.

So what about you? What does a culture that values gardening look like to you? What are the marks of it? Does it come up from the base or down from some top? What do we do to GROW it?

I’d love to hear more and share thoughts from each of you along to us all – be in touch if you feel so moved: send me a voice mail or email to

Also - speaking of culture markers and signifiers layered like duff in the Autumn garden - it's October 31st – Happy Halloween! In the ancient Celtic spiritual tradition, it's the time of Samhain.

I am of strong Scot and Irish descent and while I was not raised with historical Celtic traditions, they resonate with me as a gardener and as person of settler/colonial background trying to figure the line between cultural appreciation/cultural appropriation, and the wide grey ocean of meaning – and making meaning out of the cycles of our lives in between.

According to the simplistic but very useful good friend, Wikipedia, "In modern times, Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced “sow-win”) is usually celebrated from October 31 to November 1 to welcome in the harvest and usher in “the dark half of the year.” Celebrants believe that the barriers between the physical world and the spirit world break down during Samhain, allowing more interaction between humans and the Otherworld" – whatever it may be.

These annual cycles of growth and light, contraction, rest and darkness are ones I find plantspeople and gardeners particularly in tune with – these are some of the relationships offered to us as a result of our relationship to the soil and plants and their visitors we tend and nurture as a community of people. In this time of seasonal transition – from Fall to Winter here, from Spring to Summer on the other side of the world, for me personally transitioning from one age to the next this coming week, and for us globally heading toward the end of a decade – what are our garden based goals in the next season? The Next decade? For our own gardens, our global climate, our wide world?

One of my goals is to keep talking to as many of you as I can – every week. To keep holding these plantspeople journey stories up as maps and role models and individual points of brightness altering the collective consciousness for the better. Happy to be here together.

If you’re listening to this, you’re likely a regular listener to the CP podcast – and if you are – make sure to check out the November 3rd A View From Here newsletter – I'll have some fun news and artwork to show you on another project expanding the world of gardening as an important branch of cultural literacy. I think you’re going to like it!




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