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  • Jennifer Jewell


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


Jessica Walliser is an avid gardener and professional horticulturist – working in the business of plants and gardening since the tender age of 15. As she has matured as a gardener, so too have have her understandings and passions, and she now considers herself a devoted bug lover as well as a devoted plant lover because, you know, these two groups of lives we love are wholly interdependent.

Based near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jessica is a former garden podcaster, a co-founder of the online gardening resource Savvy Gardening, and the author of many books reflective of her journey and knowledge, including "Good Bug, Bad Bug"; "Attracting Beneficial Insects to your Garden", and most recently, "Plant Partners: Science Based Companion Planting Strategies” (Artisan Press, 2020).

Jessica and I discuss how far we’ve come in our 'mainstream' American gardening practices this past 50 years, from companion planting to cover cropping, interplanting to the joys of watching predatory robber flies help control Japanese beetles. We also cover the even greater joy of knowing that more life in your garden equals more health in your garden life.

Photos courtesy of Jessica Walliser, All Rights Reserved.

JOIN US again again next week, when we head to the prairies of Iowa in conversation with Kelly Norris, public gardener and ecological gardening advocate whose freshly out first book New Naturalism offers us an inspiring, ecologically sound vision for the next generation of our home gardens. Join us!


Thinking out loud this week:

As summer gets into full swing – and that great diversity of bug life that comes with summer does as well – I’d love for us all to keep in mind the joy of Jessica’s mission wanting us to love the insects of our garden as much as we love the plants.

I’ve been doing some reading around pollination ecology and seed ecology and even around faith and ecology of late for a longer term project under way – think Gary Nabhan, Darwin, and Judith Larner, and its just so clear that while we love the fruits and flowers of summer, they do not come to us in a vacuum – they come to us on the wings of millions of years of coevolution and resilience and adaptation by plants, their pollinating partners, their seed and seed dispersers, and their sheer grit and luck. Gary Nabhan and Steve Buchmann in their co-authored work from 1998 The Forgotten Pollinators notes that if a plant is listed as rare and endangered, the chances are that the creatures who live off of that plant should also be protected as endangered…..

And we could be that creature.

So as you eat your peach – or the likes of the apricot galette I made last night – keep this faith close: we are directly attached to the fate of the lives around ours – in body and soul. May our actions align with this understanding…

In other thoughts - I am thinking of sounds and how we listen to where we live.

As of this last week, John has now documented all five species of bumblebees who have made their lives in his garden this past few years as present again this year. They seemed slow to get going this year – perhaps because we are so very dry – but they are here and we are both thrilled. The evening crickets are serenading us each evening now and the Cicadas of summer are faring pretty well on the eastern side of the continent they songs alternately thrumming and screeching. For all we speak of the tastes and scents and colors of summer – the sounds of it are key cues for our lives here aren’t they. It was the point of the fear and tragedy implicit in Rachel Carson’s title for her most famous work: Silent Spring.

I wonder – what insect songs speak of summer to you most poignantly?

I hope you will share – the source, the sound, the memories held in them both for you as a person cultivating your place where you are. I’d love to share your thoughts in our Cultivating Place community – a journal of what it means to be a gardener in these times in our places. Send me an email: Cultivating place @ or share your sounds/sources and stories behind them in comments with me on Instagram @cultivating_Place.





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