DISPATCHES FROM THE HOME GARDEN (JOURNALIST): LAURA CHRISTMAN
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This week on Cultivating Place our next in the occasional series of Dispatches from the Home Garden - this time through the lens of a regional newspaper's gardening columnist. Every region needs a paper and at least 1 regionally knowledgeable gardening columnist - Laura Christman was that person in Redding, California for the many years of her long career. She's an avid home gardener and in our conversation, we explore the meaning of gardening through this particular lens of shared stories in a given time and place.
She writes: "Perhaps you are familiar with the term "gardening." It is a tangle of weirdness. Turns out there's more to it than growing a lovely lawn or prolific pepper plant."
The book "Planet Pomegranate" is a collection of columns written by journalist Laura Christman for the Home & Garden section of the Record Searchlight, the daily newspaper in Redding, California. "The pieces are a mix of conversations, observation, reflections and frustrations…..and pomegranates." Join us!
“I like the concept that when you’re gardening, you don’t have to garden like anybody else, you bring your own experiences of the place that shaped you, and the place where you garden and so you’re kind of in your own little world, it’s your own little that you’re creating and it doesn’t have to be like anybody else’s world. And so if I had my own world it would be Planet Pomegranate because I love the fruit, pomegranate is such a great fruit to grow and they taste great, but I just love that they are this inconvenient fruit that it takes time to eat and you can’t multitask when you’re eating one. You have to devote your full attention to that. ”
Laura Christman, Gardener, Garden Journalist
In Laura's own mind she was not a gardener per se when she started her job, but she grew into understanding she was indeed one through the job. As to what it takes to earn your badge as gardener and be entered into the great gardeners club: “All you really need is to plant 1 seed – and you’re in."
Through the course of her career, especially after she created her position of Home & Garden editor at her paper in part so she could work part-time after the birth of her first child, Laura was moved by the friendly, open, curious and generous nature of the gardeners in her region. How they wore their "frying pan summer kind of place" stories like badges of honor as well as important connections between the community at large.
In our conversation I was moved by her awareness and reminder to us that gardening is a practice, a process, not a destination in some static or perceived to be perfect photograph or mental image.
Have you ever grown or eaten a pomegranate? Laura's description of spending time eating a pomegranate, and how each of our gardens are our own little worlds or planet's (her's being Planet Pomegranate) made me laugh and made me nod my head in agreement. Time spent staring slowly into the mystery of the garden is part of what energizes us.
Laura’s favorite season in her garden might be when the pomegranates are ripe and she can wander into her garden, pick a fruit and eat it – slowly - staring at the miracle of it. My favorite moment in this conversation might be when she describes the joy of this as she describes “inconvenient fruit” and how it forces us to devote our full attention to it in order to get the sweet reward. Pretty sure those are words of wisdom for life – and certainly a well-lived gardening life in general.
While Laura is retired from her newspaper-based journalism career, you can pretty regularly find her human and humorous garden and nature-loving work in Enjoy magazine of Northern California Living.
Cultivating Place is an award-winning co-production of North State Public Radio, where it airs every Thursday at 10 am PST.