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  • Jennifer Jewell


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



In our ongoing exploration of who gardeners are, where gardeners are, and what they are growing in this world, longtime listeners of Cultivating Place will be familiar with writer/gardener Marta McDowell. She has joined us previously to share her titles digging into the gardening lives of notable people , such as Emily Dickinson.

Marta's writing has appeared in The New York Times, and elsewhere. Her books include: Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, All the President’ Gardens, and Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life, among others. She teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, where she studied landscape design. She lives, gardens, and writes in Chatham, New Jersey.

This week Marta returns for something of a mid-winter escapist break garden book club kind of conversation to share more about her newest title: Gardening Can Be Murder: How Poisonous Poppies, Sinister Shovels, and Grim Gardens Have Inspired Mystery Writers.

It's an oddly fun, and historical, romp into the overlapping worlds of mystery and crime fiction with gardens and gardeners.

Images courtesy of Marta McDowell, illustrations by Yolanda Fundora. All rights reserved.


HERE IS THIS WEEK'S TRANSCRIPT by Doulos Transcription Service: 

02-29-24 CP - Leap Day Special Gardening Can Be Murder - Marta McDowell - final
Download PDF • 158KB


You can follow Marta McDowell on line at:; And on Instagram: @marta_mcdowell

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JOIN US again next week, when to Kick off Women’s History Month, we visit with the Queen of Herbs, Jekka McVicar of Jekka’s Herb Farm in the UK. Her long career bringing the gardened world the best the herbs of the world have to offer to our gardens, to our environments, to our kitchens, and to our souls. That’s next week, right here, listen in.


Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from

supporting initiatives that empower women and help preserve the planet through the intersection of environmental advocacy, social justice, and creativity.

Thanks to a generous matching grant from the Catto Shaw Foundation for 2024, all of your donations to Cultivating Place go directly toward helping us meet that match! All contributions help – go to the support button at the top of every page at Cultivating to chip in. Thank you in advance for supporting this program you love to grow with.



Thinking out loud this week....

I love that this week’s program first airs on Leap Day of the Leap year – something about how the day is supposed to equilibrate time and the planet – but somehow that’s what my garden does for me throughout all seasons of all years, and so maybe it’s just a go to the garden permission slip kind of day if the weather allows, or plan your garden day in dreams and seed orders if the weather keeps you in? I also love that we kick off Women’s History month as of March 1 – and it marks four full years since my first book The Earth in Her Hands was published on March 3rd of that fateful March back in 2020. I am just back from a week of talks on the road, and I head out again next week, and I am pleased to report that the messages of The Earth in Her Hands, about diversity and biodiversity and women being important leadership voices growing our world better continues to resonate with audiences wherever I go. So here’s to women’s history month, and here’s to an incredible diversity of women leading from their gardens, from their impulse to garden, and from the many ways these leaders grow our world starting right where they are.


In other updates:I have had so many lovely interactions with people who have attended my talks recently – and I treasure every kind word, every thoughtful note of feedback. Recently, I had this note from writer/poet Gregg Raymond, that I wanted to share with you all:


Message: Dear Jennifer, I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful and inspiring words at the National Native Seed Conference. I also enjoyed your new book on seeds. I listen to the podcast version of your show regularly. I thought that you might enjoy this poem I wrote several years ago. I had some partridge pea seeds that I’d forgotten to plant outside in the fall (they need some cold stratification to germinate), so I was trying to get them planted in the cold early Maine spring. Enjoy! Gregg


Partridge Peas

The damp rawness

Of early spring

Takes what little courage I can not spare

But these seeds

Beg to be chosen

Full of hope

Grandparents to be

A yearning grows

An opening in the soil

And a vision of what might be


As dreaming seeds fly Into the womb

Of the earth

And begin to stir

Grateful For their chance

To awaken

Into life

I just loved it. And if you had an interest in hearing my keynote address to the National Native Seed Conference you can find it here – should be the third talk in after Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, and Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Tracy Stone-Manning.

Happy Leap Day, happy March –

we are close to the Vernal Equinox now, gardener: lean into the light!




Cultivating Place is a co-production of North State Public Radio, a service of Cap Radio, licensed to Chico State Enterprises. Cultivating place is made possible in part listeners just like you through the support button at the top right-hand corner of every page at Cultivating

The CP team includes producer and engineer Matt Fidler, with weekly tech and web support from Angel Huracha, and this summer we're joined by communications intern Sheila Stern. We’re based on the traditional and present homelands of the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of the Chico Rancheria. Original theme music is by Ma Muse, accompanied by Joe Craven and Sam Bevan.

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