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  • Jennifer Jewell


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


Just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania a team of plant folks known as Refugia is growing connection among places and people from their beautifully designed native plant gardens and rippling out from there….We are joined today by Refugia founder Jeff Lorenz, by Land Stewardship Manager Esther Scanlon, by Lead Project Manager Ronnie Ludwig, and by Melissa Nase, Refugia’s lead Landscape Designer and Greenhouse Manager.

Esther, Jeff, Ronnie and Melissa join Cultivating Place this week to share more about the process and ethos of Refugia as they design, create and help to steward functional landscapes that are ecologically beneficial, beautiful, and resilient.

"what it means and looks like to create functional landscapes that are ecologically beneficial, beautiful, and resilient. "


Just the fact that Refugia has a position titled Land Stewardship Manager should tell you much of what we need to know.

On their website, their own ethos is distilled by this featured quote by Aldo Leopold:

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”


Make sure to look for Refugia’s garden design "Sanctuarium" for this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show, which has moved from winter inside, to summer outside for the first time in its history. The show runs June 5th – the 13th.

CONNECT with Refugia's work and progress growing connection online at:, or on Instagram at: @refugiadesign/

JOIN US again next week we, when look forward to another kind of floral celebration on the West Coast when we’re joined by Debra Prinzing founder of the Slow Flowers Society and the heart behind the in-person Slow Flowers Summit being held at Filoli House and Garden in California in late June!


Thinking out loud this week:

Here are the phrases that imprinted on my brain as I listened again to this conversation with this team of people:

"Reactivate static/neglected/wounded landscapes," Jeff Lorenz

And: "Communication and relationship."

Which comes together then as:

It is through communication and relationship that we can help to reactivate/re-enliven static/wounded lands and their processes (and maybe even we their people???)

This is gardening with a capital G at its most garden hearted, in my mind.

I’m still considering Esther’s statements about what she wanted to do with her life – and the advice she was given about "working for plants…"

We should all be working for plants – as big G gardeners, don’t you think?

A little later she said: "I would go as far as I could to get lost and then make my way back home."

There’s something poetic and metaphorically compelling about that idea – about how it mirrors quite perfectly any good amount of time out in the garden – where we lose ourselves in time and space, in the most immediate of communication and relationship and in so doing find our way back home. To self and place in proportion.





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