• Jennifer Jewell

WINTER GARDEN - A RE/VIEW FROM HERE - 2021


Valley Oaks in the Canyon.

Diamond Bright Raindrops on Lupine Leaves - Winter Butte County CA


And so here we are – full solar and close to full calendar circle. The final Cultivating Place episode of 2021 is ready to go out on the airwaves to your ears this Thursday.


Here at almost the 40th parallel where I live, our day length is already up to a little more than 9 hours and 26 minutes, from its shortest of just over 9 hours 24 minutes at the Winter Solstice. Even so, mid-winter is here for a while. Heeding the way and the call of the garden, the wild land and the plants - we slow, we rest (I hope you're resting!), hunker down, settle into the rooting gifts of the cool dark. The light will return with full force soon enough.


Dark and light – they are always at play, each offering their own perspective, each showing us another truth.


The last of the now-straggly summer/fall crops and tender flowers had their hard killing frost this past week, they were ready - and I was really ready. The seasons turned turned their blessed/sacred turn.


For me in my garden, as we enter the welcome dormancy of many beings, I am also happy to be reminded of those beings that are quickened and enlivened by the chill, by the damp, by the dark. our own imaginations among them.


Blankets of leaves - oak, alder, sycamore - now cover the ground, feeding and insulating life below. Rain and cold seasonal fog fed us all these past few weeks through different pathways than the long and many sunny days of summer feed us – and the fungi among others are delighted by the onset of winter. The generative nature of the decomposers and the recyclers cannot be underestimated, cannot be overstated.


Light and dark they are always at play - each growing us a little differently… for the better....




Under Western Skies in 2021


As I look back at 2021, and I think and winter-dream ahead to 2022 and it's growing seasons, here's what I know: we grew. And looking ahead, we will continue to grow. Maybe not in all the ways all the time, but in some of the ways - important ways, some of the times - important times.


We planted and we will plant; we harvested, and we will harvest; we composted, and we will compost.


Among my favorite lines in Gary Nabhan's conversation with me the week of 12.20 was something along the lines of: "I am not too concerned with immortality. When I die I hope to be rolled down the hill to compost on the seed farm and keep the food chain going."


What better dream/hope/wish/prayer, than to be a seed-bed for the future growth? This is just what gardeners in their fullness and conscientiousness can be and do.


Full circle garden grown winter wreath. Butte County, CA



These gardeners of fullness and conscientiousness include the 51 new gardening voices you all listened to, learned about and from, and supported on Cultivating Place this past year and the hundreds of hours of audio recorded with them and edited of them and their gardening/growing world stories and knowledge and passion and hope.


Here's how I know we grew, and we will grow - even as we compost what is no longer needed in the form it has been in: in 2018 Cultivating Place aired on 1 public radio station, was downloaded 155,000 times, and a kind handful of listeners were also financial supporters of the program, making my full-time+ devotion to researching, scheduling, recording, thinking about, editing, and posting each week's resulting podcast barely possible/reasonable.


In 2021, the Cultivating Place mission of empowering and engaging gardeners to grow our world better airs weekly on 3 public major public radio stations from Ohio to California, and airs frequently on at least 3 other stations from Florida to Maine to California. The program is now supported by two best-selling books on gardeners and gardens of contribution and meaning: The Earth in Her Hands (2020), and Under Western Skies (by Caitlin Atkinson and me, 2021). Cultivating Place has been downloaded 592,000 times in the past 12 months, and financial supporters of the program in the form of listeners and partner/sponsors, make my full-time+ devotion to researching, scheduling, recording, thinking about and dreaming ahead, editing, and posting each week's resulting podcast not only possible, but stable and sound enough to keep going.


Gardeners grow peas and beans and greens, they grow potatoes and tomatoes and dandelions, they grow oaks and snowbells and sunny spaces, they re/grow habitat and health and home (without any chemicals) for soil, water, air, humans and the many beloved more-than-humans: fungi, frogs, bats, lizards, lady beetles, lightning bugs, meadow larks, vultures and eagles, deer, fox and weasels.


Gardeners also grow the gardens and the gardeners of tomorrow - and therefore some portion of tomorrow itself - with their voices and choices and sown seeds today.


Many good seeding wishes for this, our next round, which, like the one before it, will seed all subsequent rounds. So be it.


In the deepest gratitude for this garden-hearted way with you,


Jennifer & The Cultivating Place Team

LINKS to November & December 2021 CULTIVATING PLACE PROGRAMS

(just click the live link that is the green title of each program to get to the audio file and listen in....)


12.30.21 Brave New Seed, Kellee Matsushita-Tseng


12.23.21 A Conservation of Generosity & Relationship, Gary Paul Nabhan


12.16.21 Dormancy and Sabbatical, Devorah Brous


12.9.21 Trophic Cascades, poet Camille Dungy


12.2.21 The Three Tree Geeks of San Francisco & Their Covid Trees Tours


11.25.21 Thankful for Farmers, Matthew Martin, Pyramid Farms


11.18.21 Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations, Rowen White & Gavin Van Horn


11.11.21 The Wild Seed Project, Heather McCargo


11.4.21 Garden History & Hindsight, The Garden Museum, London




Scenes from the Winter Garden on a Frosty Morning


Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from the American Horticultural Society. Soon to Celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, AHS has been a trusted source of high quality gardening and horticultural information since 1922. Today, AHS’s mission blends education, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship with the art and practice of horticulture. Members of AHS receive the award-winning flagship magazine, The American Gardener, free admission and other discounts to more than 345 public gardens with the Reciprocal Admissions Program, plus discounts on books, seeds, programs and more!


Listeners of Cultivating Place can receive a $10 discount on the annual individual membership of $35, by visiting www.ahsgardening.org/CP For your annual Membership to the American Horticultural Society for the special Cultivating Place rate of just $25 a year, head over to www.ahsgardening.org/CP.




Cultivating Place is also proud to receive support from the California Native Plant Society, on a mission to save California’s native plants and places using both head and heart. CNPS brings together science, education, conservation, and gardening to power the native plant movement. California is a biodiversity hotspot and CNPS is working to save the plants that make it so.


For more information on their programs and membership, please visit https://www.cnps.org/



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Me. Bio photo by Eddie Altrete 2019.