top of page
  • Jennifer Jewell


Clare Foster and Sabina Rüber. Photo ©Eva Nemeth, all rights reserved.


MaryLynn Mack is a renaissance woman and leading voice in the world of public gardens today. After beginning her career in the Navy, her experiences have taken her in many directions, including 16 years in Phoenix at the Desert Botanical Garden, and now as Chief Operating Officer of the South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes, Ca.

In the last decade she has served on the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) Board of Directors, and is the current Vice President, the incoming President, as well as the inaugural Chair of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEAS) Committee. She joins us to share more about her journey and some of her big hearted, brave IDEAS for horticulture and public gardens as we move forward. She believes that public gardens can save us all.

You can follow MaryLynn's work online at South Coast Botanic Garden and American Public Gardens Association.

Join us next week when we lean into the spirit of the season and the traditional Jewish festival Tu B’Shevat, or New Year of the Trees in conversation with Karen Flotte, with the Mitzvah Garden at the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri. The New Year of the Trees seems like a perfect celebration in this time of dormancy just before the sap begins rising – in most living things looking towards spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Join us!





Those of you who listen to me all the time, may have noticed I have been starting out my conversations with a slight variation on my normal opening question. I have recently moved to asking people what the mission statement for their garden might be? This might be sort of an obvious question for someone like MaryLynn who is in aleadership position at a public garden, but I think all gardens – small and large, public and private, herb gardens windowsill gardens could perhaps use a mission statement.

I came to this new query in part because of my newest book, Under Western Skies, Visionary Gardens From the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast which I announced on social media this last Saturday. It’s a great endeavor on which I was invited to collaborate by the photographer Caitlin Atkinson and Timber Press.

As a gardener & writer, I’m most interested in that intersection between our gardens, the more wild natural spaces beyond our gardens from which our gardens were carved & our prismatic cultures. I believe that thoughtful & intentional gardens/gardeners help to address challenges as wide ranging as climate change, habitat loss, cultural polarization & social justice, & individual & communal health & well-being. I explore this weekly here on Cultivating Place.

I explored it very specifically in the work being done by women around the world in The Earth In Her Hands. I’m proud & excited to share with you today how I explore these concepts ever more in Under Western Skies, Visionary Gardens from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast, which celebrates innovative place-based gardens in deep & interesting relationship with the Western landscapes in which they are situated & from where (whom?) they take their most profound direction & inspiration, it will publish May 11, 2021, and is available for preorder now from just about any place you buy your books, or you can preorder signed copies from me at Cultivating

While these 40 gardens are based in the US West, in these extreme times, the extreme conditions/biodiversity of these gardens have solid lessons for gardeners everywhere on how to partner w/ the land, cultures & history‘s of our places. This in turn makes for more symbiotic gardens/gardeners in tune w/ this generous, brilliant planet & all the lives and relational systems that make her so. And that, my friends, as we know has the power to shift everything in a better direction.

That is a mission statement from me – and my garden. I will look forward to hearing your mission statement for your garden!

#cultivatingplace is a #publicradioprogram and #podcast - a co-production of #NorthStatePublicRadio @nsprnews, where it airs every Thursday at 10 am and a Sunday at 9 am Pacific. The full sweep of the work is #LISTENERSUPPORTED through CP is created from a physical base on unceded, traditional lands of the Mechoopda Maidu Indian Tribe of the Chico Rancheria. #decolonizethegarden#decolonisethegarden


All photos by or used courtesy of South Coast Botanic Garden.




SHARE the podcast with friends: If you enjoy these conversations about these things we love and which connect us, please share them forward with others. Thank you in advance!

RATE the podcast on iTunes: Or wherever you get your podcast feed: Please submit a ranking and a review of the program on Itunes! To do so follow this link: iTunes Review and Rate (once there, click View In Itunes and go to Ratings and Reviews)

DONATE: Cultivating Place is a co-production of North State Public Radio.

To make your listener contribution – please click the button below.

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

Or, make checks payable to:

JewellGarden with Cultivating Place in the memo line

and mail to: Jennifer Jewell, Cultivating Place

PO BX 37

Durham, CA 95938

All contributions go to the production of Cultivating Place and its educational outreach efforts and endeavors. Thank you for the value you find here and your support of it!


bottom of page