• Jennifer Jewell

FOR THE LOVE OF ROSES with FALLON SHEA, ROSE DEVOTEE



Fallon Shea is a rose devotee and roseologist currently making her life with roses in Southern California. Since the stay at home orders due to Covid-19 Fallon, like most of us, finds herself in this unfamiliar territory which has both slowed and clarified our day to day lives, trying to process the pandemic along with the many other demands we might have.


For Fallon these include entomological work for the Department of Agriculture, caring for two elders, and being in the midst of writing a rose book. She recently shared with me: “Now more than ever I find myself retreating to my garden space and immersing myself in the reckless beauty of roses, even if the majority of the time is spent just staring at them. I've marveled at a single petal longer than ever before, despite my short attention span these days.”

For more information on Fallon Shea, you can find her at Fallonshea.com, or follow along on her lovely rose journey on Instagram where she is @fallonsheaa. For more information on good roses to grow in your region and how to care for them, look for the American Rose Society at rose.org, or the international rose society worldrose.org. I hope you also had a chance to listen to the charming and knowledgeable Michael Marriott from David Austin Roses, where there’s a whole world of rose information and beauty to explore at davidaustinroses.com.


"Now more than ever I find myself retreating to my garden space and immersing myself in the reckless beauty of roses..."

Fallon Shea, Rose Devotee


A rosarian is a person dedicated to the study of roses - someone who is learning their history, the many roses varieties, the best cultivation practices for them. Roses are influential culturally, horticulturally, artistically, and economically. In our conversation, Fallon describes her journey from being "tricked into gardening by roses" and beginning work in something of a "monoculture" environment on a Northern California rose farm 13 years ago, she expanded her own understanding and knowledge and went on to help institute a biodiversity and ecosystem mindset on this same farm, ultimately caring for 10s of thousands of roses along with wide range interplanted flowers and herbs for the best overall balance of health, soil life, and wildlife.


She shares with stories around some of her favorite roses, discussing the fashion swings of floral tastes in form and color from the versatile, muted colors of R. 'Honey Dijon', R. 'Distant Drums' and R. 'Kokko Loko', the dashing nature of R. 'Yves Piaget' and her picotee edges, to the simple, elegance of R. 'Sally Holmes.'


Join us again next week when Cultivating Place ventures into a backyard cultivation new to me but age old in the world when we’re joined by Johanna Silver, former garden editor of Sunset Magazine, and author most recently of "Growing Weed in the Garden, A No-Fuss, Seed-to-Stash Guide to Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation" (Abrams Books, March 2020)


There are soooooo many ways people engage in and grow from the cultivation of their places.




RELATED EPISODES INCLUDE:


- BRINGING NATURE HOME, DOUG TALLAMY


- THE GARDEN IN EVERY SENSE AND SEASON, TOVAH MARTIN


- LATE MIGRATIONS, MARGARET RENKL


Thinking out Loud this week...

Ok so thinking out loud this week –

Hey it’s Jennifer,

This is a hard weird challenging growing pain kind of Season, isn’t it? I am not sure where you are at this very moment, but from all of the emails and comments that are coming my way, many of us are home and the entire structures of our lives are different now than they were 3 months ago – which feels like three years ago. Many of us are dealing with fear and uncertainty, loss of work or change of work and because we are human and living in this time, much of how we see ourselves in wrapped up tightly in our work – whatever that might be – our derive a great deal of security around who were are through what we do. So it’s a tricky scary thing economically just for starters, but also psychologically when our work changes, or suffers loss, or contracts in ways we could not have foreseen….

In the midst of this a lot of us are also finding ourselves gardening – for the first time or again or ever more intensely. Which is such a statement about our own most essential/fundamental instincts – what we turn to in times of uncertainty, what brings us joy, hope, comfort in gratifying, empowering ways not depleting ways.

For me, listening to Fallon relate her story of being 19 and feeling lost and having that constant question: WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE reverberating without answer in her head felt very, very timely to me. It is a question we ALL ask ourselves at various moments in our lives, and right now I think a good many of us are asking this question and not seeing a clear answer.

I certainly have no definitive answers for you on this, but for anything it might be worth I will offer out this observation from my own life and the lives of the 75 women in my book, the lives of the many, many plant loving people I have interviewed here over these many years now: there can be a powerful, transformative connection between this scary age-old, life-long question: what am I going to do with my life now? And the instinct to turn to the life of the garden or the more than human lives around us.

This IS what I mean when I talk about gardeners being intersectional agents for change in the world – this is one of those intersections and this – scary and seriously uncomfortable as it might feel in the moments of transformation, it can also feel eye-opening, expanding, exhilarating and relieving. WHAT DO I REALLY WANT FROM THIS LIFE? WHAT CAN I REALLY BRING TO THIS LIFE?

I look at my roses blooming hosting aphids, and then birds and lady bugs to eat the aphids, I think of my vegetable garden feeding me and my girls at least something of our vegetable intake each week, my seedling native cottonwood tree who chose the western most corner of my small suburban lot to site itself and which now offers food and shelter for creatures, shifting seasonal music for my ears in its rustling leaves in their different stages of growth, shade for the house in the heat of summer and an abundance of leaves for the compost bins to then feed the garden soil throughout the year. These other lives remind me to reframe the questions – to edge slowly away from panic and gently towards creative adaptation. To hear the question not as what am I going to do with my life, but more as: how can I use this moment and this space to re-envision what I get to do with my life as a contributor to the whole of life?

Needing and wanting to touch the source of our own survival in even small ways might be what gets us many of us to the garden in times like these – but it’s the incredibly transformative life force we find there – a force which models answers to some of life’s best questions with concepts like: growth, seasons, cycles, experimentation, artistry and spirit that will keep many of us there - gardeners – intersectional cultivators with our places - for life. May there be some joy and rejuvenation in this global question and answer session for us all.

Sometimes, finding the best answer to any questions involves checking back in on what we would rather not live without - those things for which we are deeply grateful. Here are some things I am seriously grateful for in these times: access to the outdoors, the sun, the rain, the flowering plants, the patience of trees, the hugeness of the big umbrella of a SKY over us all;

I am grateful for the range of the human voice, I am grateful for public radio and public libraries and independent journalism and the Unites States Post office – all of which allow for connection to our distanced human voices. In a slightly more complicated way, I am grateful for technology and the internet which at their best allow for a new kinds of connection and exploration and innovation in these new times.

I am grateful for roses – the whole family of them from the wild strawberry to the eating, pie, and cider apples to the vase beside my bed sending me sweetly to sleep.


I am really grateful for YOU - all of you with whom I am in this endeavor of Cultivating Our Places from a sense of urgent love, care, connection, need, service, and learning. Always learning.

I am sure you have your own list – I would be happy to read it or listen to it if you feel like sharing.


You know where to find me.....


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