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  • Jennifer Jewell


Valley Oaks in the Canyon.

The Kind Generosity of Late Summer Basil. Butte County, CA September 1, 2020

This summer, for some reason, I have been enjoying a repeating motif of all that fills my garden hat when we collect in the garden in order to nourish the house. By many measures, we do not have big or fancy gardens, but the abundance of what fills the garden hat speaks volumes to me on what we mean - and what I know in my heart and mind and gardening hands - when I conceive of 'abundance' or 'plenty' or 'enough'.

And then there's something about that primal circular shape holding it all, isn't there? That very feminine shape of the full circle radiates out symbolically to the circles of the witnessing full moon we began this month with, that life-giving (and taking) sun, this generous planet, and the balance of the seasons coming full circle. It is the circle of life, our circle of friends, the circle created by our hands held out together to cup a drink of cold water or receive whatever communion is of deep meaning to us - for me it is the communion and abundant companionship of and with the nature of the garden.

It is the wholeness and fullness of all our love's labors.

It is a sacred geometric shape, this circle which both contains and embraces us - restrictive yet supportive - echoed and reflected in much of life throughout the universe.

The #gardenhat series began early in the season with apricots and then plums and then dragon's tongue beans and then tomatoes and then my beloved diversity of oreganos, and now the end of season basil from our vegetable garden at John's - fragrant and fleshy as the nights return to some equilibrium with the days and each day's heat is a little less intense due to the shorter duration of it as we wend our way to the Autumnal Equinox, which will fall on September 22 at approximately 6:30 in the morning Pacific Daylight time.

As high summer gives way to late summer and early autumn, there is a circular resurgence of flowering and emerging that tells a fuller tale than just the late summer's days heat.

If ever there was a year and a series of seasons we may have been tempted to rush through and wish away or hurry along, it might be these of this year - 2020 - oddly circular number that that is.

And yet we as gardeners - of anyone in the world - know in our bones: this is a false choice. Each season has its particular purpose, beauty, advantages, perceived losses, and - always - its own brand of fertility, seed, and transformation.

Might sound or read as a platitude, but the fact remains it is the tiny specks of seed sown in manure and household-green waste-compost-enriched soil, under the ashen skies and searing heat of August here that lettuce, spinach, cilantro, carrots, and beets germinate and root readily - to feed us in fall and early winter.

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

Now, the act of faith that is planting seeds in August for the late summer and early Autumn harvests comes around in its own cyclical path. The carrots and beets are just showing themselves and the lettuce and spinach is - well - just look at them....

September marks the beginning of a busy fall season - circling back from where we left off in spring in a couple of ways, one of those being speaking and public engagement events for me and Cultivating Place and The Earth in Her Hands.

While we are separated physically and there is something very dislocating about virtual events - there is simultaneously connection and accessibility to these events that I find so energizing and heartening in a way that I did not expect (just like until you see it happen you are not sure healthful spinach will really sprout from manure and dirt and air).

All of the virtual events I have had the honor of speaking for have in fact been very human, and connecting, and fun and re-affirming about the connective power of gardens and we as gardeners.

The calendar of events here on has all the dates and most of the links to register to each event. I am so looking forward to connecting with gardeners like you all around the country in these new ways.

On September 11th I will be a speaker for the ongoing author series at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, MA. It will be an intimate and interactive gathering of likeminded garden folk at this horti/cultural, economic, and environmental moment we find ourselves in talking about the power of one person in one place to make a great difference and mentor and model that difference to others.

On October 6th, I will be in powerful conversation with plantswomen Ira Wallace of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello for the virtual version of their Heritage Harvest Festival, which Ira helped to co-found 14 years ago now.

We grow together in this circle and we widen this circle every day and season - even while we are apart.


and the Cultivating Place Team


UPDATE ON THE LISTENER SUPPORT CHALLENGE: DEEP GRATITUDE AND LOUD THANKS! In mid-July the CP issued a listener support challenge for 100 new donors in the second half of this transformative year of 2020. As of August 31st, we have 60 new donors since the beginning of July - THANK YOU to everyone who makes these civil gardening conversations possible- we are well on our way to meeting our goal - if you have not yet join in support of this program you value - please consider it NOW!

Your listening, your supporting, your being on this garden life journey together with me and this CP community is food, water, sun and soil for this garden of humans. Thank you - TOGETHER WE really do GROW THE WORLD BETTER.


The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants


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Hoping to see you and chat more at my talk for the Berkshire Botanical Garden on September 11, 2020




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Me. Bio photo by Eddie Altrete 2019.



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