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Meet Our Community: Jennifer Jewell, explorer of gardening “why”

Let’s get to know each other!

Since we’re not able to meet up in person this year, let’s meet online. Every week we’re introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We’re excited to see what everyone’s talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you’d like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)

Jennifer Jewell

I write and host Cultivating Place, a weekly public radio program and podcast. I believe in gardens and gardeners as powerful agents for change, from individual and communal health and well-being to community activism, social justice, and environmental healing. As a lifelong gardener, I’ve found there is plenty of how-to out there but less information about WHY, and how the “why” of our gardens can have greater positive impact in our lives as well as in the world. We have the bad habit of seeing gardening as a sweet, pretty hobby, not necessarily as an economic, cultural, and environmental change-maker. With every person I interview and every word I write, I am striving to illustrate how powerful gardens and gardeners are, and to encourage every gardener out there to embrace, celebrate, and work towards this power ever more intentionally.

A landscape I love in the Trinity Mountain Range, Northern CA

My small suburban garden in northern California displays my enthusiastic willingness to try anything – and my lack of any clear focus. What it lacks in elegance it makes up for in cottage garden exuberance. I have native trees (oak, cottonwood, redbud) and flowers (salvia, buckwheat, monkey flower, manzanita, ceanothus), wildlife habitats, cutting flowers (roses, gardenias, narcissus, and peonies), vegetable beds, and a LOT of Mediterranean herbs: rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano. I love the entire genus of buckwheat (Eriogonum) because they are diverse, hardy, grow all over the West (like me), and are gorgeous, from tiny ones the size of my little finger to those with stems arching up past my chest. They age beautifully, feeding an array of insects while they do it.

My favorite garden will always be the garden(s) of my mother, a woman and her place that grew me into who I am. When I was little, it was a 1-acre garden at 8,000 feet in Colorado under aged ponderosa pines. Her final garden, on the edge of a tidal marsh in South Carolina, was filled with ferns, camellias, lilies, night-scented moonflowers, and night-blooming cereus under architectural live oaks, with loads of frogs, toads, and marsh birds.

My first book, The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants, centers on the impact of diverse women working with plants. Its reception, especially by young women around the world, makes me so proud every damn day. My second book, Under Western Skies: Visionary Gardens from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast, a collaboration with photographer Caitlin Atkinson that is coming out in April 2021, explores the importance of us as gardeners knowing our place in the world, literally and metaphorically.


Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Jennifer! You can follow Jennifer at Cultivating Place and on Instagram; learn more on her author page at Timber Press.

Photographs courtesy of Jennifer Jewell.


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