In preparation for May and Mother’s Day here in the US, this week we’re in conversation with Lorene Edwards Forkner, a gardener, a writer, a cook, a mother, a daughter, the garden columnist for the Seattle Times, and known as gardenercook on-line. Lorene joins CP this week to share more about her artistic garden-based daily practice for the last 4 years, which has resulted in the new book: Color in and Out of the Garden, Watercolor Practices for Painters, Gardeners, and Nature Lovers, out now from Abrams Press. The practice and the book are invitations to lean into her own mission statement in life, seen primarily through the lens of the garden: "look closely, with great heart”. A good blessing for all mothering souls in the world.
Color In and Out of the Garden, like most great works of heart and creativity in our world, builds on inspirational works that came before it: the title is a riff off a beloved and beautifully illustrated garden book first published in 1982, In and Out of the Garden, by Sara Midda; the work was inspired by the local color palette work of both Bay Area artist Mimi Robinson author of Local Color, and that of fiber activist, artist, and educator Sasha Duerr; Lorene's practice of daily color and attention devotion to her plants, gardens, walks was born from the #100DayChallenge endeavors on Instagram she followed since 2017. The color/plant/daily observation practice was born of grief and a need to focus on something completely new and engrossing following the death of her father following a long and difficult illness.
When I was asked to write a testimonial/blurb/review for Color In and Out of the Garden, it was a Hell Yes. Here's what I wrote: "From the evocative title of this heavenly missive, you might think you need to be a gardener or a painter to harvest the full richness of its many gifts, but you do not. You need only be human - as worried and full of wonder, as pained and patient (or impatient), peculiar and particular as all of us. This collection of careful color studies of botanical (flowers, leaves, seeds, stems) and botanically adjacent (think time worn stones, beach bleached shells) treasures is offered out to us by the knowing hands of a gardener, the refined eye of an artist, the time tested taste of a cook, and the heart of a compassionate mother. It is seasoned with science: biology and the science of light, the science of color and that of sight. On one level it is an encouragement to practice being present, to practice paying attention and taking good care in and of the natural world, to practice really seeing; but on its highest level, it is a much needed (longed for?) reminder born of both joy and deep grief to live your own days (and thus life) in full color, in and out of the garden. A plea to savor and cherish every last living vibrant cell of it in the process: the extraordinary, the quotidian, the steadfast constants and the heartbreakingly fleeting. A sometimes funny, sometimes sobering prayer to notice and celebrate all the variations and permutations of green (for survival), red (for ripeness), pink (for extravagance), yellow (for luminosity), orange (for energy) and brown - the foundation of all living things - in all their colorful diversity. As Lorene might say, “Yes, Please.” See for yourself. You will never see your garden, food, art, sky, ground (life) quite the same again."
Images courtesy of Lorene Edwards Forkner, all rights reserved.
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Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from the California Native Plant Society, on a mission to save California’s native plants and places using both head and heart. CNPS brings together science, education, conservation, and gardening to power the native plant movement. California is a biodiversity hotspot and CNPS is working to save the plants that make it so.
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Thinking out loud this week:
Look Closely with Great Heart
Look closely with great heart
LOOK CLOSELY with GREAT HEART
I have nothing to add to that as a gardener or a human. Happy Mother’s Day to every soul out there in all of our gender identities – this world needs all the big hearted full-color gardening and mothering we can get.
(and PS: As we find ourselves at the threshold of a new month – the month in which most areas of the Northern Hemisphere move past their last hard frost dates, we can see the world green and grow. I want to thank you all for being out there helping Cultivating Place to grow – by listening, by commenting, by sharing episodes that move you with your family, your friends, and other gardeners – You help this growing podcast to fulfill its mission of growing more great gardeners – gardeners of place, and purpose - and heart. Like many good mothers helping me to grow. THANK YOU.)
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