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  • Jennifer Jewell


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.


Loree Bohl is the Portland Oregon-based founder and visionary gardener behind the well-known and well-loved Danger Garden Blog. In true Danger Garden fashion, Loree’s new book Fearless Gardening empowers us all to be bold, break the rules and grow what you love.

Fearless Gardening encourages you - EXHORTS you - to boldly go forth and claim your garden as a space of joy and creativity, a place of constant experimentation and delight.

No matter if you are a new or an experienced gardener, working with acres, a mantlepiece or windowsill, Loree wants you to fearlessly look at your garden, its plants, its design, its effects on your spirit and ask ‘Why?' As much as 'Why Not??' And to do so regularly.

"be bold, break the rules and grow what you love.. "

Loree Bohl, Fearless Gardening

With knowledge, no-punches-pulled humor, and full-disclosure personal-experience (read: experiments she ripped right out along with those she’s thrilled to showcase) that I love in her Danger Garden blog, Loree shares her own garden along with other gardeners and gardens that defy preconceived ‘gardening commandments', she shares gardening mindset shifts to consider, and she shares planting and design tips.

In our conversation (and in the book) Loree shares some of the drawbacks to what she refers to as the "Commandments of Gardening." These perceived and passed-along so-called RULES of gardening, which in her gardening life she has found to hold her back far more than they support or help her. She also shares how once she moved from an apartment to a house with a small urban yard, Loree thought she would no longer need to garden in containers for the most part. But she in fact came to count on the possibilities allowed for with containers to extend her season and her microclimates. Tis is but one example of learning and living our way through and over preconceived notions or 'rules'.

In a time when when fear dominates so much, Fearless Gardening graciously and respectfully (acknowledging budget, time, and natural resource realities) invites us to (re)engage with our gardens as no-fear, no-complacency zones of unconditional love and uninhibited playfulness."

Loree joins me this week to empower all of us with a sense of boldness.

You can follow along with Loree's work online at: and on Instagram: thedangergarden/


Join us again next week when we head to Philadelphia in conversation with a group of young landscape architects whose similarly bold thinking redefines what landscape design consists of as individuals and as communities. The Refugia team brings it all together.



SO, In revisiting this conversation since I recorded it with Loree a bit ago now, I am wondering if you all sour there listening – and I really do picture us all together over coffee or wine or a leisurely walk as we share these conversations - sometimes are left bewildered by what might seem mixed messages. On one hand I am encouraging us all to garden with our places, and on the other hand I am thrilled with Loree’s perspective and approach even while she admits to gardening like she live’s in Southern California while she lives in Portland. And I have been turning this over in my head intently this past few days. Why in my own mind is this not a mixed message?

For starters, I would say without hesitation that foundational garden belief #1 for me is that there really is no right way to Garden. #2 is all about intention and heart and learning. We are supposed to bring our creativity and have FUN with our garden relationships and spaces – for me this is really, really important. Because if it is not fun – if you don’t FALL IN LOVE with this process and practice – why would you stick with it?

And finally – I have been to Loree’s garden and it is not only creative and colorful and a refuge for her, but it is in fact a contributing member of her wider community – human and more than human. Her dry front garden with many native and climate adapted manzanitas and agaves, succulents, flowers and trees do provide habitat, food and water for insects and birds, and welcome engagement with passersby.

Her garden is not a blind guzzler of unnecessary natural resources, rather a judicious conscious use of them. It is an actively loved and cared for space, not a default. And so while she makes a huge personal effort to care for plants who are not meant for her climate, she does so with sweat equity, not environmental overload. And it becomes a BOTH AND ALSO equation, instead of an either/or equation.

It becomes a relationship based on fun and collaboration with her place, rather than one based on fear and avoidance. And for any of us in our own spaces, this will always come back to: there is no right way to garden and you are the expert in your own garden.

As Loree and I were talking and as I have been thinking about this, some common marriage counseling suggestions keep coming to mind – suggestions for when things get challenging or things get rote and dull and you stop really seeing or really paying attention to each other. Suggestions like – schedule a date night with your loved one, surprise them with a gift, with an act of service or amp up the playfulness romantically….listen to them and make conscious time for them…

DO you think this sounds funny, or silly? Or maybe it’s resonating with you?

Because after all our gardens are just like all of our other loved ones, when we show up and listen and know them, they will return our love in spades.

This is good practice – in the garden, and beyond.


This is the second to last episode in May and I want to thank all of you who have participated to date in the Cultivating Place sustaining membership offer available through May 31st. if you become a monthly recurring donor to Cultivating Place at the $10 or higher level between now and May 31st, I will send you your very own signed hardback copy of my new book: Under Western Skies.

All of your donations make this work of Cultivating Place possible. Your contributions support these civil gardening conversations, which connect us, and which engage, empower and encourage gardeners making a difference from their own gardens out across the world. It’s wonderful interdependence and so thank you for being out there listening. Together we rethink, we learn, and we grow better.

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