There are few things so affirming as growing plants from seed, but this is also a gardening skill and activity that can be shrouded in mystery and result in a gardener feeling intimidated and/or frustrated. In her own garden life, and in her new book co-authored with Sabina Rüber, Clare Foster removes the fear and mystery, and underscores the joys and benefits - to your garden and to the world - of growing flowers from seed.
Clare has a long history in the garden world. She is currently the Garden Editor at House & Garden UK, and has been a garden writer for nearly 20 years, having started her career at Gardens Illustrated magazine. According to her website, "she gardens as much as time allows and is developing a new cottage garden in Berkshire, England." her books include Compost (Cassell, 2002), Your Allotment (Cassell, 2007), Painterly Plants (Merrell, 2012) and The Flower Garden: How to Grow Flowers from Seed (Laurence King, 2019) which is just out this spring.
Clare joins us today from her home and garden in Berkshire to share more about her own garden journey and her new book.
"More than anything, I just want to encourage people to try to try [growing from seed]. For the fun of it, for the color of it in the garden, and for the the lack of expense - you can create your own garden so cheaply and so quickly. I haven’t had to go out and buy any annuals for my pots this year - I’ve grown it all from seed and and it’s so satisfying
Clare Foster, co-author of "The Flower Garden: How to Grow Flowers From Seed" (Laurence King Press, 2019)
You can follow along with Clare's work at on Instagram at: /clarefostergardens/
THINKING OUT LOUD this week..
Summer is all about Fruits and Flowers and fecundity in the garden – even if you don’t have much of a garden, this is the image we hold of the summer garden I think – perhaps sometimes to our detriment.
Sometimes the image in our heads handed to us from someone somewhere on some page can be so irritatingly different than the reality in our actual day to day gardens. It can be for me. July in interior Northern CA is hot and dry and more hot and more dry (although it has been blessedly mild these past two weeks with highs in the mid 90s NOT low 100s).
The days can be blindingly bright and the heat reflected off of the pathways and open areas is nothing short of radiation exposure. A gardening kindred spirit Wolfgang Rougle referred to this time in our seasonal year as another winter – it is a time of dormancy, and retreat much like what we think of as winter.
Listening to Clare talk about the ease of flowers in summer, from a place of summer green and generally reliable rains off and on, I would remind those of us not there to not aspire to that exact garden, but to gardens of our places that meet the heart of these ideas here.
In my garden this looks like the tougher than nails seed-sown California native buckwheats, it looks like noticing the wildland interface scrub plants that BLOOM despite all such hardships – the vinegar weed, and rabbit brush, and the sacred datura that seeded herself in my front courtyard with no participation on my part. I am grateful and surprised by her everyday. She is a seed of my place. I hope you have time and even momentary mental and physical space to see and appreciate the seeds of your place and garden as well - while soaking up every bit of the lush advice and knowledge about and joy of gardening from Clare Foster.
It’s been fun this past spring to see not only see the garden and spring landscape growing, but to see Cultivating Place growing as well – getting heard on other radio stations around the country. Have you heard CP on your public radio station? A shout out to some of the stations that have featured the program in just the past months: KZYX in Mendocino County, on The Sea out of Florida, on KVNF in Colorado’s beautiful Delta County, and on KWMR in Point Reyes Station, CA. Thank you all – and welcome to this green and growing community of impassioned, informed, and caring plants people making a difference in the world by cultivating their places through the human impulse of Gardening.
If you’d like to hear the program on YOUR local public radio station, you can let them know that every episode – and indeed the series - is available weekly on PRX! Public Radio Exchange – we’d love to be seeded into the healthy soundscapes wherever you all are.
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