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  • Jennifer Jewell


Photos Courtesy of Frailty Myths, All rights reserved.

As Lunar New Year celebrations continue, we travel to Japan to celebrate an amazing project known as The Tokachi Millennium Forest.

Dan Pearson is a landscape and garden designer for whom an understanding of plant ecology along with an appreciation for natural landscapes inspires his acclaimed designs – including that at the Tokachi Millennium Forest. He, in partnership with Huw Morgan, creates a weekly gardening journal DigDelve.

Midori Shintani is the head gardener at the Tokachi Millennium Forest in Hokkaido Japan. Having trained as a gardener and horticulturist in Japan and Europe, she joined the Tokachi Millennium Forest team in 2008. The project and its gardens merge a “new Japanese horticulture“ with wild nature. Midori was featured in my first book the earth in her hands, 75 extraordinary women working in the world of plants.

Dan and Midori's inspiring and collaborative work at the Tokachi Millennium Forest really speaks to gardeners around the globe who want to reconnect with the ecological life of the land and the plants and animals that surround them. The project and their work exemplify a new naturalistic gardening which relates closely to the immediate environment and interweaves culture aesthetics and horticultural traditions of both east and west.

In the conversation the two share more about their own plant-love origin stories, the remarkable partnership between themselves, the native mountains and forests of this Northern Japanese island, and the garden that involves them all. They speak of nuance and the traditions of animism, nature worship, and Satoyama in Japanese tradition.

Having interviewed both Dan and Midori before, I am delighted to welcome them to Cultivating Place this week to celebrate their new book on the Tokachi Millennium Forest, out now from Filbert Press.

You can follow Dan and Midori on line at:

Dan Pearson Studio:


Instagram: Tokachi Millennium Forest Midori Shintani @lillajapan/

Dan Pearson @coyotewillow

Join us again next week when we’re back stateside to visit with a longtime gardener and garden writer also engaged in a new level of relationship with her new plot of land. Page Dickey joins us to talk about the leaving and grieving of one garden, and the getting to know and love a new garden and its nature – all of which grows her. Her new book Uprooted is out now.





Thinking out Loud this week...


One of the things I love so much about this conversation is the way it illustrates so completely the universal impulse to garden and the common ground that our gardens and plant love really is: east or west, near or far, man or woman, tall or short – the garden meets us there and grows us along.

I’ll meet you there….

The other thing that strikes me here – as I ponder the cultural traditions that Midori and Dan discuss with us about Nature Worship in Japan, about the nuance and granular level of detail in animism, about relationship to the land in general - is how non-binary it is. It is not black and white, this or that – it is all of this and all of that – wild and cultivated. And here we are living at the seam. Trying to make the very most of it for all involved.

They remind us that no matter where we are – we are never alone and the land is always sacred in the garden.




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