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  • Jennifer Jewell


Valley Oaks in the Canyon.

Ahhh it is February – the first full moon, the first new moon, and the Lunar New Year are behind us. The novelty of 2020 has settled into more of a familiarity but the growing season – well that is still in front of us – shiny and inviting, but we still have some rooting and planning and resting to do.

There will be time, there will be time, gardeners.

And as we enter February, on Cultivating Place we are considering the sanctuary that our gardens provide us -and the healing and health to be found in them individually and culturally. A need we all have in common though with different urgency and from varying kinds and degrees of wounds.I am sort of thinking of it as Heartfelt February.

I know I take sanctuary in my garden, most gardeners do (when we relax and let go of our arrogance, control and perfectionism), but so do we as cultures and communities. The series that got underway last week (see direct link below) starting off right where we are - in our own gardens, speaking with P. Annie Kirk of Red Bird Restorative Gardens about Sanctuary and Healing - beginning with ourselves.

As the series continues, we hear from Dr. Naomi Sachs, of the the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, with Perla Curbelo, a recent graduate of the Horticultural Therapy certification program at the Chicago Botanic Garden, with Iain Houten, at London's Chelsea Physic Garden, one of the oldest extant botanical and medicinal plant gardens in the UK (and world), and with Matt Wichrowski, a horticultural therapy clinician and educator in New York City. 

The joy of the early Iris reticulata in a pot in my little courtyard garden.

These conversations bring up so many interconnected and human threads for me – how my mother would walk through her garden in her mind while she was undergoing chemotherapy treatments, how I found solace most completely after her death by either being in the garden puttering slowly or laying on the couch and watching the trees move against the sky outside our living room windows; the research we heard reported from Florence Williams in the Nature Fix about how just having images of green outdoor spaces and plants reduced the anxiety and stress of urban high rise workers, of Dean Kuipers in his family memoir The Deer Camp drawing the correlations between inside and outside in terms of our human mental health being directly reflected in the chaos and disease in our natural planetary environment….and Robin Wall Kimmerer's call in all her work around Traditional Ecological Knowledge but especially in Braiding Sweetgrass to us all to return to a relationship of mutuality and reciprocity and responsibility with the lands in our lives – public or private.

And maybe most importantly the mutuality of our good health being part and parcel to the health of our places, the land, the larger environment and the lives of the more than human who make our lives here not only possible but beautiFULL, healthFULL, meaningFULL.

We all have this in common.

Staghorn sumac in winter dress, photo by Seabrooke Leckie, all rights reserved.

late winter blooms of native manzanita call out to and support our local native bumble bee queens. John spotted his first ones in the garden last week!

I am back in my own home garden after the first big public events of the year around The Earth in Her Hands – the first for the Sacramento Perennial Plant Society and the second for the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon – a sold out event at which I had the great honor and joy of meeting 300 of you.

What energizing community and common ground we share. The reception around the new book has left me sort of speechless and humbled.

But also CLEAR - very clear – the Earth is in all of our hands – how we hold it, how we cultivate it – is on us.

How we lead the way forward from our best gardening selves can make all the difference in the world.

Thank you to everyone I met in these cities – your welcome was sanctuary of its own kind. Next up – The Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle and then back in home territory at Mrs. Dalloway’s Books in Berkeley on Feb 28th and at home in Chico for a local launch party with North State Public Radio March 1st before heading to the Northeast. I look forward to meeting and communing with many of you - because Together we grow - better.


and the Cultivating Place Team

PS: THIS MONTH - my speaking engagements around The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants, include:

- February 28th at Mrs. Dalloway's Books in Berkeley, CA - at which I will be joined by a healthy handful of women from the book. Such a TREAT!



(just click the live link that is the green title of each program to get to the audio file and listen in....)


The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants is being published March 3, 2020 in celebration of Women's History Month.

It's AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER: signed from my website before February 15th:,

And anytime: at IndieBound:; Barnes & Noble:; and Amazon:




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Me. Bio photo by Eddie Altrete 2019.



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