Cultivating Place: Talking Open Days with Jennifer Jewell

cultivating_place_online_logo_1500x1500pixels_72dpiWhat else can you say when your favorite garden podcast asks you to be a guest? You say “Hell, yes!” and worry about the rest (you know, like how on earth will you be able to keep up with her previously impressive guests and wonderfully thoughtful interviews) later.

Cultivating Place: Conversations on Natural History and the Human Impulse to Garden is a weekly public radio podcast on gardens and gardening as integral to our natural and cultural literacy. Created and hosted by Jennifer Jewell, Cultivating Place airs on North State Public Radio.

Listen to Cultivating Place: The Garden Conservancy’s
2017 Open Days Directory, With Laura Wilson

Jennifer and I spoke about the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program, my since resigned position that I still volunteer with and advocate for, and about garden visiting in general – our own personal experiences, and what the public can take away from a stroll through someone else’s private garden.

I discovered Cultivating Place just as it launched in February 2016. Jennifer’s beliefs on gardens and gardening reflect my own, and I felt a sense of relief the first time I read her mission statement. Great! I never have to try and put that into words again – she nails it. Hurray! Now I know (of) at least one person in California who is just. like. me.

Cultivating Place is based on two beliefs: The first, that horticulture (“the art of garden cultivation or management” according to the Oxford English Dictionary) is a foundational element of our cultural literacy — on par with art, music, architecture, history, geography, social studies and literature. The second, that gardens and gardening provide a unique, and uniquely beautiful, bridge connecting us to our larger environments — culturally and botanically.”

To find out more about Cultivating Place visit the weekly program page on the NSPR website, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, and follow along on Instagram and Facebook for even more inspiration. You’ll be so glad you did.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post featuring highlights to look forward to with Northern California’s 2017 Open Days season. Meanwhile, here’s a peak at the three NY gardens I mention as my favorites in the interview…

GCOD.NY.AmyGoldmanFowlerGarden of Amy Goldman Fowler, Rhinebeck, NY (Open Days 2016)


Hyland/Wente garden, Millerton, NY (Open Days 2014)
View additional photos from this garden here.


Garden of Anne Spiegel, Wappingers Falls, NY (Open Days 2012)
View additional photos of this garden here.

Happy Nat’l Public Gardens Day!

I l-o-v-e gardens. And so in honor of National Public Gardens Day 2016, a newish holiday that genuinely makes me feel like celebrating, I’m sharing this quick photo tour of garden visits I’ve made over the past five years. Hopefully after viewing, you’ll want to party (or visit a public garden in the near future) too. For help finding a garden near you, go to the American Public Gardens Association website.

GardenOn.NYBG2New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY

GardenOn.NYBGNew York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY
(Opening weekend of the Native Plant Garden, Mother’s Day 2013)

GardenOn.WethersfieldWethersfield, Amenia, NY


Wave Hill, New York, NY

GardenOn.WaveHillWave Hill, New York, NY


Vassar Shakespeare Garden, Poughkeepsie, NY

GardenOn.UntermyerUntermyer Gardens, Yonkers, NY


UC Berkeley Botanic Garden, Berkeley, CA


The Mount, Lenox, MA


San Francisco Botanical Garden, San Francisco, CA
(With two of my most dedicated, garden-visiting partners in crime!)

GardenOn.PlantingFieldsPlanting Fields Arboretum, Oyster Bay, NY
(Nothing chases the Long Island winter blues away like a trip to the
Planting Fields Camellia House in February!)


Orange County Arboretum, Montgomery, NY


North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC

GardenOn.NaumkeagNaumkeag, Stockbridge, MA

GardenOn.MtTopArboretumMountain Top Arboretum, Tannersville, NY

GardenOn.MontrealBGMontreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Canada

GardenOn.MontgomeryPlaceMontgomery Place, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY


Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA


Longwood Gardens, Kennet Square, PA


Locust Grove, Pougkeepsie, NY

GardenOn.JCRaulstonArbJC Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC

GardenOn.InnisfreeInnisfree, Millbrook, NY

GardenOn.HakoneEstateHakone Estate Gardens, Saratoga, CA

GardenOn.GroundsForSculptureGrounds For Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ

GardenOn.GreyTowersGrey Towers, Milford, PA

GardenOn.GardenInTheWoodsGarden in the Woods, Framingham, MA

GardenOn.FiloliFiloli, Woodside, CA


Chanticleer, Wayne, PA

GardenOn.Bellefield2Bellefield, Hyde Park, NY

GardenOn.AnnapolisRoyalAnnapolis Royal Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada



Garden Visit: Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco


Back in December (2015) we were up for a quick garden outing and headed to Golden Gate Park to visit the Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States.


I didn’t read the history of the garden while we were there, it was pretty crowded and there were photos to take! But this sad story can be found on the website:

Originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the site originally spanned about one acre and showcased a Japanese style garden. When the fair closed, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara and superintendent John McLaren reached a gentleman’s agreement, allowing Mr. Hagiwara to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity. He became caretaker of the property, pouring all of his personal wealth, passion, and creative talents into creating a garden of utmost perfection. Mr. Hagiwara expanded the garden to its current size of approximately 5 acres where he and his family lived for many years until 1942 when they, along with approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, were forced to evacuate their homes and move into internment camps. When the war was over, the Hagiwara family was not allowed to return to their home at the tea garden and in subsequent years, many Hagiwara family treasures were removed and new additions were made.




Just when I thought garden visiting couldn’t get any better, I walk into one that serves ethnic food. (What’s next – a beer garden garden?) It was packed, and looked like an absolutely perfect place to be on a Sunday afternoon.




The ginkos had been showing off their fall color since we arrived in California in early December, and fallen leaves made for beautiful golden carpets throughout the garden.



This photo doesn’t do it justice, but climbing the very steep Drum Bridge is a must when visiting the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco.

GardenOn.JapaneseTeaGarden11Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA

Hours: Mar-Oct: 9am-6pm; Nov-Feb 9am-4:45pm

Open daily, no holiday closures.
Admission: Mon, Wed, Fri: FREE before 10am
Adult: $8 (Non-Residents), Kids $2.

I’ve recently learned about the North American Japanese Garden Association, championing the art, craft and heart of Japanese gardens in the US and Canada. To read more about this organization, or find a garden near you, visit their website at