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  • Jennifer Jewell


Ross Gay - Poet & Gardener, Photo by Natasha Komoda |


I wanted to pop in quick here to give you the mid=sept update on our listener support challenge underway. We set ourselves the goal of adding 100 new listener supporters in the second half of 2020 and I am really pleased to report that we are now at 60 new supporters.

THANK YOU – a garden does not grow over night. It grows over a season – and this odd but growing season is maturing beautifully. I know you hear appeals all the time especially in this particularly politicized moment and I appreciate the urgency of that.

I appreciate too that we all have to make realistic decisions about how to allocate our many resources – from our time, to our attention, to our money and what we value and vote for with that money. If you are able to make a donation one time or as a recurring donor – thank you. If not, just your listening to these words its it own form of important support for these civil and expanding conversations in our world. You make my work both possible and a joint communal effort. Together we plant the changes and grow the world for the better. If you would like to be a new listener supporter of this impactful work – thank you - simply Go to the top right hand corner of any page here at Cultivating and follow the links by clicking the SUPPORT button.

Like all art the art of gardening and the artistry of any gardener adds to the world at large – I hope you enjoy this week's conversation about the journey of one very sculptural garden artist!

I would love if people saw my art and they were inspired to make something in their own gardens. I think people giving themselves permission to make art in their gardens or bus Art and have it in their gardens - I just think that just the way plants add to your life - sculpture and art do too."

Dustin Gimbel, Second Nature Garden Design

Another episode in our intermittent series on Art in the Garden and the Art of the Garden – this week we’re joined by designer and artist Dustin Gimbel.

Dustin is a landscape designer and large scale outdoor ceramic artist inspired by the botanical world and based in Southern California, I am pleased to welcome him today to share more about his journey working his way through school and some notable internships to this summer installing his first public exhibition at the Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar.

Dustin's artistic route started as a young person working in a nursery, and then studying plants at a junior college and then opening himself up and taking opportunities and chances that led to first an internship at Heronswood Garden with plantsman Dan Hinkley (and where Dustin would have encountered the artwork of the famed Berkely artist Marcia Donahue, whose creative vibe you can feel referenced every now and then in Dustin's), and from there to other internships at the United Kingdom's Great Dixter Garden and then the RHS Wisley. Upon returning to the US, he took on his own garden design practice and after experimenting and playing and trying out ceramics he is now an intrepid ceramic artist creating large scale outdoor art for public gardens.

Dustin landed his first two public garden exhibitions and installations this summer of 2020 with a few select pieces at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA and a full exhibition at the Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar - near Huntington Beach in Southern California.

To follow along with Dustin's work you can find him on Instagram @dustingimbeldesigns/ or at his website:

Join us again next week when we’re joined by gardener, designer and horticulturist Wambui Ippolito on tracing the history of our own plant love and the legacies and histories of the plants we all love. Listen in!






I wanted to share with you a message I got from a kind, kind listener this week, she wrote: "Hi Jennifer – I just want to say thank you, I’ve been listening to your podcasts from episode 1 and really really enjoying it! I’ve lost my job due to Covid-19 and struggling with minor depression but listening to your podcasts really helps me. So thank you – Can’t wait for the new episode! Stay safe."

To receive a note like this in these times is a serious – and forceful - gut check. I know these civil gardening conversations matter, but I sometimes forget on just how many levels that they can matter to someone who NEEDS to hear some aspect of them – needs to hear that their impulse to garden is valuable, that it makes a difference, needs to hear the unorthodox and meandering pathway of another person – like Dustin’s – to someone who needs be reminded to visualize the many many pathways through difficult times.

Times when looking ahead seems murky at best, I recall that I started these conversations for these VERY reasons. I NEEDED TO HEAR THAT this relationship I am called to is meaningful. I had been told one too many time that my impulse to garden was silly or inconsequential or not productive or life changing, that it didn’t make the world or my girls safer. That it was a waste of time of money. And there were sad, dark days when I believed this. Except that in my heart of hearts, in the marrow of my bones, I knew it did matter – that it did change things and my life and the life of my girls for the better. And it took everything I had to turn back to the plants and the garden for the answers and as it always does – it saved me.

I have no answers for these times – except the answer of the plants which is lean in to what comes, adapt, keep trying to push out a bud here, a root there, a node off of that lower branch there.

Use your biggest most open peripheral thinking to see where some combination of your brain and heart are urging you to tend. …

You have purpose and your plant love and garden life are part of it. Look to it for both solace and that jolt of creative spark you might be seeking. The plants of your place, large and small, common and rare – they will hold you through so much if you look to them.

As Dustin says towards the end of our conversation today – I love the idea of people looking at my art and being inspired to make art in their own garden – giving ourselves permission to make our art – whatever that might be – adds a great deal to our – all of our – lives.

Continue as you first started in the garden – as a student of receptivity and curiosity. You will continue to grow.

AND - If YOU are reading these words right now, then I know you are really really with me on this Cultivating Place journey. And I am so happy to have you with me. I am so glad AND I feel real humility around the new listener supporters to this work.

SO, I wanted to take this moment to check in with you – how are we doing?

How is Cultivating Place treating you? Are there topics or people you’d like to hear, is there a focus you keep hoping for but I have not yet gotten to? If you’re a subscriber to the monthly email, one of which went out last week, are there certain kinds of information you’d like more or of less of? I would really like to hear more from you and we have a few things in the works to help on this front– including LOTS of public speaking events some of which are free, and all of which are reasonable priced in support of the hosting organizations – garden clubs and botanic gardens, museums and foundations. Check out the Events Calendar to find out more.

Until we have a chance to interact virtually, or even meet in person – oh the day! - I’d love to hear from you: where do you live?

Why do you garden?

How long have you listened?

What do you like,

what would you like to see improved?

I am ALL EARS my friends – all ears.

And Thank you again for listening and being here now.




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DONATE: Cultivating Place is a co-production of North State Public Radio.

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Thank you in advance for your help making these valuable conversations grow.

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and mail to: Jennifer Jewell, Cultivating Place

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Durham, CA 95938

All contributions go to the production of Cultivating Place and its educational outreach efforts and endeavors. Thank you for the value you find here and your support of it!


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