CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT WEEK with VINCENT BELLINO AND VOICES OF NATIVE PLANT ENTHUSIASTS
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It’s California Native Plant Week this week and around the state and the wonderful treasure of diversity that is the California floristic province there are celebrations to help you learn more, get out, come together and be inspired.
In honor of all this, we hear a diversity of California native plant voices on CP this week.
In late January, I had the great honor of conducting an mobile recording “booth” of sorts at the California Native Plant Society Conservation Conference held in Los Angeles. This gathering of hundreds of people – young, old, multi-national, multi-cultural, from a diversity of backgrounds and walks of life, gathered together to share research, joys and struggles all about their shared passion for native plants.
I never take an interview lightly – I always hold it as an honor to view into someone else’s life, mind and heart through this particular lens of our shared plant and nature love and interdependence.
Sometimes I interview in person, but primarily I interview for the program remotely. At their best and my best, both methods require their own version of deep listening. To be in an busy urban hotel, in a busy metropolis, in the concreted semi-industrial landscape in the vicinity of that city’s international airport, is to be made profoundly aware of both the need and the privilege (and what should be a shared right) that is daily access to green space.
Over the course of the conference I sat and listened to dozens of native plant enthusiasts willing to share their stories with me: Why they were there, their sacred memories, their losses, their gains, the plants and plant communities with whom they felt kindred. I heard of the loss of children, the marriages of couples, of seeing a herd of elk antlers moving through morning mist across a meadow and wetland at the break of day. I heard about the precious gift that is life consciously shared with the land and beautiful beyond measure natural plant and animal and geologic systems on which our human lives depend. It was about the love and connection to these plants; it was about our own sacred connection to life.
The California Floristic Province is home to on the order of 6500 native plant species and there are those among us who love and want to ensure the long life of the genetics and habitats of every single one.
Today, in celebration of California Native Plant week, we’re hearing from a selection of those voices of native plant passion and purpose interwoven around the story of a young native plant home gardener finding his voice and purpose and passion in a poignant Dispatches From the Home Garden that really pulls the concepts of why we’re here doing what we do - together.
"The general public does notice the loss of the things that they grew up with, they don’t see the fireflies anymore, there are fewer birds, they’re concerned about that. A lot of people hadn’t put it into words, but they’re concerned about it, and then I come along saying - Hey, there’s something you can do about it. This is an environmental problem where you can act and actually see results.”
Doug Tallamy, Keynote Speaker, CNPS Conservation Conference
Vincent Bellino is a native plant advocate and gardener living in Southern California. His garden restoration company is known as Restoring California.
In addition to Vince’s native plant focused Dispatches from the Home Garden central conversation today, we also hear from 6 of the native plant community whom I interviewed on behalf of the California Native Plant Society at their Conservation Conference in LA earlier this year.
To hear all of the Native Plant Story Booth interviews, please visit CNPS.org.
To access CalScape, the native plant research tool that Vincent mentions in our conversation, check it out here: CalScape
To contact Vincent, send him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Learning about, leaning into and supporting the communities that mean the most to you is really at the heart of today’s conversation with Vincent Bellino; it’s at the heart of the students and scientists and citizens who shared their stories with me at the CNPS Conservation Conference. When I listen through all of these voices and stories from a distance, these are the words that stand out: community, connection, joy, purpose. I hope that all of these are an integral part of your own gardening life and that you are able to make room for it and hold that space as valuable in your days and weeks. So often, something like gardening or nature walks are easy to let slip away from us as nice, but not necessary. But we know they’re necessary. And nice. So that’s a bonus.
If you’re on my email list and read thisView from Here newsletter this month – you’ll know I explored a little the idea of garden literacy and what it means to me now – how it has shifted over time and place and experience. I think this is one of the things that draws me to these kinds of conversations with people about their plant and gardening lives and journeys – this maturing and growing.
Vincent makes an observation in our conversation about how as a now mid-twenties gardener, he is so much more aware of how his grandfather grew as a person by being in relationship to his garden – even if that garden wasn’t particularly welcoming to rambunctious little people. What does garden literacy look like to you? NATIVE PLANT KNOWLEDGE? (I love Vincent's story of his first black sage (Salvia mellifera). So fun those first loves. What was your first native plant love? Mine was Salvia clevelandii. Well, maybe Eriogonum grande rubescens, but then there was also Fritillaria affinis in spring! Ah!)
Plant Names in General? Plant medicine? Cultural and historical knowledge and lenses? How to cook with your plants, their natural communities, how to arrange them into pleasing designs and combinations for their sheer beauty?
I remember once my Aunt Bettina remarking to me that as a younger gardener she had never liked variegation but that as an older gardener (in her 60s) she loved it. How has your garden literacy shifted? Expanded and focused?
As always, if you feel called to share – leave a comment at this week’s post on Instagram and Facebook – or send me a note through the contact page here and make sure to sign up for the newsletter when you’re there.
It’s a great way for ME to hear from YOU.
Happy Native Plant Week - wherever you live and garden. #everyweekisnativeplantweek