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  • Jennifer Jewell


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


Before we get started today, I wanted to jump in a say hello – as the independent creator and producer of Cultivating Place, I am so proud to have a home on North State Public Radio out of Northern California. And I am so honored to that the podcast has almost 40,000 listens each month! For long time listeners thank you! And for newcomers – WELCOME! As a public radio program and podcast, Cultivating Place relies on you the community of listeners who value these conversations and thought-provoking dialogues to grow by to help support the work. Thank you – truly - TO all of you out there who support this program monthly. For those of you who are not yet sustaining listeners, please consider investing in this work with a donation. TO make a 1 time gift or sign us as a sustaining monthly donor, Just follow the SUPPORT BUTTON at the top right-hand corner of every page here at Cultivating Any donation amount starting from $5 a month makes a meaningful difference to producing this program every week.

As we move toward celebrating our 5th birthday, we’ve set a goal to add 100 new sustaining members in the second half of 2020. We know you value the depth and breadth, heart, and voice of Cultivating Place- and with your participation – we’ll be cultivating this informed, engaged, caring garden community for many seasons to come. Join us – follow the SUPPORT button link at the top right-hand corner of every page at Cultivating and together we will keep growing better!

Colleen Southwell is a gardener, a mother to two boys, a farmer’s wife, a garden designer, and an artist committed to celebrating the beauty of the garden in the littlest things in the garden from the finely twining roots of plants to the little magical winged creatures who make their lives in relationship with the flowers of the gardens and fields surrounding her home.

Based on a 100-acre heritage sheep farm, including 3 acres of vegetable, orchard and ornamental gardens in the rural landscape outside of Orange, Australia, Colleen joined us today to share more about her finely crafted pen and ink, paper and wire artistry created under the name of The Garden Curator – sourced in her own delight and appreciation for the amazing diversity and detail of life and its many relationships and inter connections in the garden and natural world.

She writes: "Contemporary life has us on a quest seeking elusive contentment in manufactured perfection. My work challenges this pursuit, inviting the onlooker to slow, look closely, engage the imagination and connect with the cycle of life around us, whether it be in our own backyard or the great wide open. In doing so we rediscover perfection in its purest form - emerging buds, the veins of a leaf, the wings of an insect.

As an artist and garden maker, my creative process requires me to do just that. The more my work develops, the more I find myself marvelling over the smallest details.  The daily walk through the paddocks has become a study in plant forms and insects and the garden provides endless inspiration. Even the “imperfections” are beautiful when observed closely and with an open mind.

Only through slow and mindful attention to detail can I create.  The fragility of my work requires a gentle and respectful hand – the fragility of our environment requires the same.

Pause, look, see. What a lovely relief from these crazy days!"

Her incredible sculptural paper and ink and wire art reminds us of the generative nature of our own gardens to inspire attention, focus, and care.

Follow Colleen's amazing artistry and garden life journey at her website: The Garden Curator and on Instagram @thegardencurator

Join us again next week when we’re joined by another incredible creative, drawing her inspiration from the beauty, diversity and complexity of the natural world starting right in her own garden. Jasna Guy’s artistry uses the colors of pollen, the myriad forms of bee and floral relationships, and the amazement of our co-evolution on this planet as the seed of her visionary work.






TI know how hokey I sound sometimes – I really do. But damn if it does not FLOOR me every time I am in conversation with a guest and we get to the part that the universe called them to their current work – the universe opened a door, and these people heard the call and walked through the door – sometimes without a clue as to what they were doing or WHY they were doing it.

It makes my skin tingle –

We all have true loves and we all have true callings – if we lucky we have a couple of both. And if we are lucky we hear them, we follow them. We dig in even if we don’t understand. I liken it a bit – and this might be way more information than anyone needs, but what the heck – I liken it delivering my daughters. The call in the dark of the night, the instincts built and nurtured and known somewhere deep deep within my own cellular make up born of many generations of women doing just this same thing – and my body took over, it knew just what to do and it did it. My body birthed another body – not easily – not quietly – not tidyily – goodness knows it is all blood and guts and process my friends, but your body knows.

You too know what to do, it may not yet be the time, it may not yet be that the soil is ready – but trust, have faith in the seed of what is in you – in your garden, in your life, in your own cellular knowledge. Take good care of you – your health, your own learning and growing, and soil and the many interdependent lives around you – I think this is part of being able to hear, and being able to take the action you need when the call comes, don’t you? And trust that You will know when and what to grow.

When Colleen heard that call for exhibitions and she was not completely clear on what her art was just yet – let alone completed pieces. But she did it. She knew It was the right thing to do – and now she is proud to watch her sons watch her follow this personal and artistic path so deeply rooted in the land and garden and the lives who thrive within it. So stinking cool. So cool.

To be still. Colleen talks about this in our conversation this week and it sounds so good – why is it so hard to do? This is the only way she can create her art she tells us – she knows this and STILL she says pieces end up in the bin because she couldn’t do be still for it. She HAS TO BE STILL TO make room for CREATING.

Why do we distract ourselves with so much of everything else even preparing to be still? Some of it is survival, ok – I’ll give you that – but let’s be honest right – a whole hell of a lot more is not about survival. It’s about distraction. Nothing more.

Be still this week. Ok? I will too. This is your one and only assignment from me and your garden this week – every single day claw out time in this height of summer here, winter in Australia and just be still – stop - look - listen.

What did you hear?

As always - together we grow....quieter, louder, greener, more creative and better.




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