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  • Jennifer Jewell


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


In our ongoing exploration of where gardeners are and what they are doing in our world right now, I am very pleased to head pretty far north in conversation this week with Canadian gardener Janet Melrose.

Janet is known in Calgary, Alberta as the Cottage Gardener, but she works across a wide spectrum of the garden world and is also a urban farming spokesperson and leader, a horticultural therapist, and co- author with Sheryl Normandeau of a series known as the Prairie Gardener's Go-To guides - the first of those guides was published by Touchwood Editions in March 2020, and two additional guides have been released every year since.

The series are up to date Q & As for gardening in Janet’s specific northern prairie place on everything from vegetables, to soil, seeds to garden pest management, trees and shrubs to perennials.

All photos courtesy of Janet Melrose. All rights reserved.

One of the great hopes of Test Plot is seeing the art, craft and science of gardening being brought back into the fold of a fully envisioned manifestation of LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE. In this, Jen and Jenny see the possibility for changing how landscapes are designed and the possibility of designers, stewards, and communities working together instead of as individual and separated parts.

You can follow Janet's work online on Instagram @calgaryscottagegardener


you might also enjoy these Best of CP programs in our archive:

JOIN US again next week, when still in the dog days of summer we revisit a conversation with Owen Wormser on transforming lawns to meadows in our world. This time of year - when the chore of caring for a lawn in your gardening life might be more taxing on your time and resources than you might really want or need - I thought this would be a nice review! Join us.


Thinking out loud this week:

I like Janet’s glossing of the words Company – and community – coming together over bread and coming together in unity. I am not sure of the exact etymology of these but I love the spirit of them. Maybe a kindred glossing of the word Garden (with a big hearted capital G) is coming together on and for the earth and her many lives?

I frequently talk about this, especially when I speak in person. Especially when I am speaking about the philosophy of Cultivating Place as expressed through gardens and gardeners in my books the earth in her hands and under Western skies. I see gardening and gardens as an earthly variation on a three part harmony As expressed by each Gardener. Each single gardener’s expression being a particular that adds to and expands on the universal concept of what gardens are and what gardening is. This three part harmony, or trinity, or Braid as envisioned by Robin wall Kimmerer, includes the gardeners personal history brought to that plant palate or garden space, it includes the cultural history and context in which that Gordon and Gardner sit which is a little different in 21st century Northern California in the United States then it might be on the prairies outside of Calgary Canada, or on a tidal river in Australia, or on a little balcony in Tokyo or Paris, or on the chalk downs of England. The third part of this three part harmony is then in my mind the natural history of each place each of us might live. The micro climate, the geology, watershed, the faunal and floral relationships that have long co-evolved in your place, and for whom a garden might offer important refugia in our current world.

Now here’s the thing, every garden does include all three of these parts - but in many of our gardens one or more of these pathways/threads is highly under developed, maybe even undervalued. Maybe even unseen. As you look at your garden, can you see what I mean?

And as you look at it, which of these threads do you think might need more attention from you in your place? I would love to hear your thoughts on this theory of mine. You know how to reach me, cultivating place@ or leave a message for me on This weeks post on Instagram cultivating_place.

Keep growing!





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