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93 minutes | 3 days ago
We return from hiatus with tales of the Snowpocalypse -- or Snowmageddon, Snowvid, whatever you want to call it -- to document the record-breaking winter weather that broke Texas' electric grid and ushered in a scary new climate reality for the plants and people of the Lone Star State. Your hosts discuss personal trauma, a jumble of conflicting post-freeze plant advice, and a bunch of anecdotes about what worked and what didn't in preparing our gardens and ourselves for an unprecedented 144 consecutive hours of below-freezing temps in Austin. Visit us at horticulturati.com Subscribe to our PATREON! Mentioned in this episode: Aggie Horticulture Facebook page videos; City Council Member Greg Casar; Resolution Gardens
68 minutes | 2 months ago
Virtual Flora & “Tree Lady” Margret Hofmann
On this episode, we discuss virtual foliage, time travel, and big trees. Colleen looks into how video games might play a role in curing plant blindness, and Leah shines a light on the remarkable life and legacy of Margret Hofmann (1925-2012), whose 1970s “Think Trees” campaign introduced Austinites to a majestic urban forest hidden in plain sight. Leave us a voicemail at 347-WAP-HORT or drop us a line at horticulturati.com! Mentioned in this episode: The Greenberg Turkey plant explosion; “A Video Game Garden: The Delights of Virtual Botany” (The Guardian); Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture; Video Game Foliage (Tumblr); the iNaturalist app; Myst; Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut; A Key To Survival by Margaret Hoffmann; The 1976 Tree Registry; Hofmann’s archive at the Austin History Center; The Secret Life of Plants documentary; Photo by Alan Pogue of Hofmann in 1975 with a historical marker at the site of a 700-year-old live oak at I-35 and Braker Lane (see the tree on Google Street View).
61 minutes | 3 months ago
Kate the Chemist on Chemicals in the Garden
Fertilizers...oxidizers...explosions! We’re still trying to wrap our brains around Ammonium Nitrate over here, so we called on science superstar Dr. Kate Biberdorf, aka Kate the Chemist, to help us out. What is Ammonium Nitrate, and why is this volatile chemical so ubiquitous? What are the conditions that create fertilizer explosions? Is synthetic fertilizer safe? We ask these questions and more, then find ourselves back down the philosophical rabbit hole: questioning our assumptions about organic food, while taking stock of the unintended consequences of industrial agriculture. This is a follow-up to our earlier Ammonium Nitrate episode (released September 19, 2020). Drop us a line at horticulturati.com and/or leave a voicemail at 347-WAP-HORT. Mentioned: Kate the Chemist on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; Kate’s books: The Big Book of Experiments ; and her Kate the Chemist fiction series; Hypoxic dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico; “Deadly blue-green Algae returns to Austin’s Lady Bird Lake” (kvue.com, July 20, 2020); “Austin’s toxic algae bloom continues to keep dogs out of Lady Bird Lake” (Culture Map Austin September 11, 2019).
52 minutes | 3 months ago
Five Seasons Total Landscaping
Autumn has come to Texas at long last! To celebrate, we watched the documentary Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf (2017) by Thomas Piper, and we're now officially card-carrying Piet stans sporting Dutch accents, asymmetrical haircuts, and scythes. We discuss Oudolf’s “mathematics” of design, seasonal ambience, and the art of garden editing. How might we translate Oudolf's temperate palate to the not-so-temperate climate of central Texas? Drop us a line at horticulturati.com or a leave a voicemail at 347-WAP-HORT. Here’s where you can rent the movie: https://shop.fiveseasonsmovie.com/product/single-viewer/ Mentioned in this episode: Oudolf designs at Hummelo; Hauser & Wirth; the Lurie Garden; the High Line; Planting Design: Gardens in Time and Space by Piet Oudolf and Noel Kingsbury; Medicinal Plants of Texas by Nicole Telkes; and Coopers BBQ in Llano.
59 minutes | 4 months ago
Backyard Update & One To Grow On crossover
Crossover alert! This episode is a twofer. In part one, we check in about the busy fall planting season. After many months of Zooming, we’re back to in-person, social-distance recording from Colleen’s backyard! As we test out our new remote podcasting equipment, the conversation drifts from back-braces to bulb-mania to the monk parakeets of Austin. Part two is our guest appearance on another great planty podcast, One To Grow On! Hallie and Chris Casey interviewed us about one of our favorite topics, Xeriscaping. Subscribe to One To Grow On for stories of how food production impacts our world, and if you haven't heard our interview about local food and soil health with Sustainable Food Center's Hallie Casey, check that out here. Visit our website for show notes! Email firstname.lastname@example.org Leave a voicemail: 347-WAP-HORT
121 minutes | 5 months ago
On this mega-episode, we’re tackling garden design--our approaches, our anxieties, and our gripes about “expert” sources of mystifying advice and misleading photography. Garden design books are rife with the jargon of art theory. How well does this translate to the living medium of plants in the landscape? Google Image Search puts pictures of every plant imaginable at our fingertips, which is great...but also not so great. Hashing it out at length, we agree on some basic aesthetic tenets, then throw the rest out the window. Maybe it all comes down to climate, maintenance, and solving problems with plants. First up, Leah describes a real-life botanical nightmare that sends her down memory lane. Last, Colleen shares a listener letter from a Buckeye gardening in the southwest. Leave a voice message on the new Horticulturati Hotline! The number is 347-WAP-HORT. Or drop us a line on our website. Mentioned in this episode: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg, here’s the illustration Leah’s referring to, and her 1991 home video of her interview with Chris Van Allsburg; Landscapes in Landscapes by Piet Oudolf; Gardens of Japan by Tetsuro Yoshida, and his excellent illustration of balanced grouping of stones; Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 2 by Brad Lancaster; Texas Wildscapes by Kelly Conrad Bender.
69 minutes | 5 months ago
Why are we putting explosives on our plants? On this episode, Colleen charts the history of ammonium nitrate, the synthetic fertilizer that propelled the rise of industrial agriculture in the 20th century--cheap to manufacture, but spectacularly costly in terms of lives lost. This highly explosive compound has caused some of the worst industrial accidents of all time (Oppau, 1921, Texas City, 1947, Toulouse, 2001, West, Texas, 2013, Tianjin, 2015, and Beirut, 2020) and was the terrorist weapon used in Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995. Nitrogen is critical to all life, and as any farmer or gardener knows, is the first ingredient in fertilizers (the “N” in the N-P-K). Plants can’t naturally pull nitrogen out of the air without the help of soil microbes; it wasn’t until the invention of the Haber-Bosch Process in 1910 that humans found a way to cut out the microbial middlemen and provide nitrogen to plants in synthetic form. We discuss the role of nitrogen in plant life, the disastrous toll of the Beirut bombing, Trump’s rollback of EPA regulations on fertilizer facilities, and how going organic (“teaming with microbes”) can help save the planet. ...And then, to lighten things up, we read a listener letter! Horticulturati fan Mike has a bone to pick with us about our Xeriscape episode and pooh-poohing of “Martian landscapes” filled with rocks, but we agree his use of rocks in dry-creek bed design is the exception that proves the rule. Drop us a line at www.horticulturati.com Here’s a YouTube playlist of the ammonium nitrate explosion videos discussed and a YouTube playlist of Leah and Colleen’s Central Texas Gardener appearances on KLRU-TV. Mentioned in this episode: “Arson Blamed For West Fertilizer Explosion,” Texas Farm Bureau (May 11, 2015); “West unveils memorial six years after fertilizer plant explosion killed 15,” The Texas Tribune (April 17, 2019); “Trump EPA eases safety requirements enacted after West explosion,” The Texas Tribune (November 5, 2016); Beirut blast: How does ammonium nitrate create such devastating explosions? Live Science (August 5, 2020); Organic Manifesto by Maria Rodale (2011); “Fertilizers: A Long HIstory of Risky Business“ in Modern Farmer (April 2013); “Many Fertilizer Plants are Poorly Located And Regulated, Says Report,” New York Times (January 29, 2016); “Extension Corner: Strike Fertilizer Facility Explosions Off Worries List,” The Gadsden Times (May 15, 2013); “EPA Delays Chemical Facility Safety Regulations Inspired by West Fertilizer Plant Explosion,” Texas Monthly (June 15, 2017); “Texas town holds no grudge against exploded fertilizer plant owner,” Reuters (April 23, 2013); Teaming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis (2006). In remembrance of James Hand (1952-2020). Thank you a lot, Slim, for your music.
77 minutes | 6 months ago
Turtle rabbit. Shell possum. Roadkill. Whatever you call it, the nine-banded armadillo is a mysterious, ancient, and unfairly maligned mammal. Find out everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about this Texas icon. Leah traces the armadillo’s bizarre migratory history, its role in medical research, and its rise as a symbol of the Austin music scene. We’ll bust some armadillo myths, meet some famous champions (including naturalist Roy Bedichek and artist Jim Franklin) and discuss the intractable problem of armadillos in the garden. So, spark up a spliff and fill your pantyhose with worms! The next time one wreaks havoc on your flowerbeds, you may just have a little more appreciation for this humble critter. Songs: “Dead Armadillo Song” by the Lost Gonzo Band; “Spanish Moss” by Doug Kershaw; “Armadillo Stomp” by Commander Cody & the Lost Planet Airmen; “You Look Like the Devil” by Willie Nelson; “London Homesick Blues” by Gary P Nunn; “Beautiful Texas Sunshine” by Doug Sahm. Here’s a Spotify playlist. Mentioned in this episode: Pink Fairy Armadillo; Adventures With a Texas Naturalist by Roy Bedicheck; The Amazing Armadillo by Larry L. Smith and Robin W. Doughty; The Armadillo World Headquarters: A Memoir by Eddie Wilson Jessie Sublett ; The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock, by Jan Reid; “The Rise and Fall of the Armadillo World Headquarters” doc; “Poster Art of the Armadillo World Headquarters” doc ; A Poem is a Naked Person, a film by Les Blank; Franklin’s story about “You Look Like the Devil” told on Pick Up The Tempo podcast; “Armadillo Man,” (The New Yorker, 1971). Managing Armadillo Damage (Texas A&M Agrilife Extension).
31 minutes | 7 months ago
Seeds from China
We dive into the "seeds from China" story and discuss the implications and ramifications in the context of the political moment, which brings us back to an endlessly debatable question: is garden "nativism" xenophobic? Visit us and drop a line here. And check out the Central Texas Seed Savers to learn about how you can get involved in sharing seeds. To hear the story behind Central Texas Seed Savers, and why Colleen is so passionate about seeds, listen to this episode of Hothouse! Mentioned in this episode: Press release from texasagriculture.gov; “Mystery Seeds Mailed From China” by Reese Oxner (Texas Tribune, 2020); Sid Miller talks about seeds (Texas Department of Agriculture Facebook page); “Against Nativism” by Michael Pollan (NYT Magazine, May 15, 1994); Sid Miller’s 2020 Texas GOP Convention video (his Facebook page).
54 minutes | 7 months ago
Neighborhoods & Neighbors
Howdy, neighbor! In this episode, Colleen discusses architect Ross Chapin’s idea of “pocket neighborhoods” -- residential blocks arranged around a shared green space, where small homes or apartments face a pedestrian-friendly commons, rather than facing the street. We imagine how much more aesthetically pleasing and psychologically rewarding landscapes could be if we took vehicles, driveways, and "car holes" out of the equation. Next, Leah brings up a perennial landscape design challenge that comes with having neighbors: screening! How do you create privacy around the home and block unsightly views, especially as growing density in urban areas has created a trend for tear-downs and the construction of taller houses with larger footprints? We share tips and tricks, from tree selection to the importance of sight lines, and ponder whether good fences really make good neighbors. Mentioned in this episode: Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small Scale Community in a Large Scale World by Ross Chapin; and the Arborists’ Certification Study Guide, Third Edition, by S.J. Lilly.
79 minutes | 8 months ago
Crap(e) Myrtles & Cushaw Squash
Crape myrtles are blooming all over the place and Leah is DISGUSTED! What’s triggering this Lagerstroemiaphobia? Perhaps it’s not about the crape myrtles, but rather the living demons of exurban hell? Next, Colleen reports on a storied gourd that vine borers can’t touch: the cushaw squash. Domesticated some time around the dawn of agriculture, the obscure cushaw took on special significance to African American foodways as a “slave food” staple. We discuss plants and memory, the merits of “folklore,” and the importance of heirloom seeds as “living archives” of cultural information. See photos of Colleen’s humongous cushaw plant and drop us a line at www.horticulturati.com. Mentioned in this episode: The Botany Coloring Book by Paul Young; The Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney; Neil Sperry on topping crape myrtles; Nandina ‘nana”; the “Pool Party Incident” of 2015; Homestead Heart (YouTube); “The Seeds of Survival” (NYT); Kathe Hambrick-Jackson, The River Road African American Museum (Louisiana); Michael W. Twitty, The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty; Farming While Black, by Leah Penniman.
87 minutes | 9 months ago
Compost Clues & Urban Foraging
Please donate to The National Bail Fund Network! On this Horticulturati, Colleen teaches us the best way to build a compost pile; Leah forages far and wide and lives to tell the tale. Visit our website for images from this ep. Mentioned: The City of Austin’s Home Composting Rebate Program; Mantis Compostumbler; Soil, a novel by Jamie Kornegay; The Telluride Mushroom Festival; The WIld Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair; Turtle Lake Refuge in Durango CO; Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons
84 minutes | 10 months ago
Metamorphosis & Victory Gardens
On this episode, we bring you stories of adaptation and change. Leah has been studying up on butterfly holometabolism -- that is, complete metamorphosis -- with assistance from her niece, nephew, and Vladimir Nabokov. Colleen describes the history of Victory Gardens, from World War I to the present day, and outlines three ways to start a “pandemic garden” of your own. But first: we revisit the sleeper masterpiece that is the Secret Life of Plants doc (1979), which is only available in bootleg on YouTube. Watch it here. Mentioned in this episode: A color guide to familiar Butterflies Caterpillars and Chrysalides by Josef Moucha; Butterfly Gardening for the South by Geyata Ajilvsgi; Gayata on Central Texas Gardener; photo of a giant swallowtail chrysalis and a monarch chrysalis; Nabokov’s 1948 “Butterflies” essay from the New Yorker; Sebastian’s rescued chrysalis and newly emerged monarch; National Audubon Society Field Guide to Butterflies of North America; A Brief History of Gardening by Neil Fairbairn; Nature’s Garden for Victory and Peace by George Washington Carver; Victory Garden (undated propaganda film); “How to Plant a Victory Garden” (NYT Sunday Style); this article about panic gardening; this article about scallions; and Central Texas Seed Savers. Get in touch with us on our website.
72 minutes | 10 months ago
The Mulch Episode
What’s the deal with mulch? Why do we do it? Where does it come from? Mulch is a noun, a verb, and--for many--a pile of mystery. On this episode, we discuss mulch's history, weigh in on the bag vs. bulk debate, and call into question the whole practice. Roll up your sleeves and grab a shovel, because your hosts are ready to dump several cubic yards of mulch facts in your mind's driveway! Mentioned in this episode: Austin Resource Recovery Recycling Center (currently closed due to COVID); Rodale's How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method; Cheryl Hazeltine's Central Texas Gardener. More info at our website: www.horticulturati.com. Email us at email@example.com. Our theme song is “Plants” by The Horticulturati House Band.
58 minutes | a year ago
Local Food & Living Soil (with Hallie Casey)
How is the global pandemic impacting local food systems? We interview @Hallie_Casey of Sustainable Food Center and On To Grow On podcast to find out. We discuss food supply chains, how local farmers’ markets are adapting, and who counts as “essential” workers during a Shelter in Place Order. Then we dig into a more fun topic: soil! How do you know if your soil is healthy? What's the role of soil in regenerative agriculture? Lastly, we introduce a segment called the “Gardener’s Gauntlet,” in which we invite guests to spill their horticultural passions and peeves. Mentioned in this episode: The Essential Worker Travel Form letter from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, the SFC Farmers’ Markets, the USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service (NCRS), Texas Plant and Soil Lab, and One To Grow On’s series on organic agriculture. This one goes out to John Prine, who is battling the virus. Drop us a line on our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org and find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
74 minutes | a year ago
Music & Plants
Best wishes to everyone! Here is a little plantastic escapism to entertain you. [We recorded this episode on 2/28 and added a little corona check-in intro on 3/21. Episode begins around 4:19.] Can plants “hear” music? What would plant-generated music sound like? On this episode, Leah and Colleen attend “The Secret Song of Plants,” the release party for an album of the same name by music therapist Andrea Cortez. Accompanying Andrea is cellist Henna Chou and… a pothos ivy?!?! Join us as we dive deep into the world of plant music, plant sentience, and philosophy, from the Plant Wave, to The Secret Life of Plants, to Mort Garson’s “Plantasia,” and beyond. Watch the Secret Life of Plants documentary here. More info at our website: www.horticulturati.com. Email us at email@example.com. Our theme song is “Plants” by The Horticulturati House Band. Also mentioned in this episode: “Inside the Spiritual World of Plant Based Instruments” (Vice magazine, 2016); “Data Garden Quartet” at Philadelphia Museum of Art (2012); Multiple intelligences; “Rock or Bach an Issue to Plants, Singer Says” (New York Times, 1971); In Search of … Other Voices with Leonard Nimoy (TV series, 1977) PS. In our research, we found several great podcast episodes on the topic of plants and music and tried not to rehash too much territory. Highly recommend you check out: “Smarty Plants” (Radiolab, 2018); “Plants That Sing” (Twenty Thousand Hertz, 2019); “The Secret Life of Plants” (The Organist, 2018), “Are Plants Listening?” (Sound Meditation Radio, 2020).
51 minutes | a year ago
Arboriculture & Time-lapse Photography
How did the invention of time-lapse photography revolutionize our understanding of plants? Leah checks in with Charles Darwin and Barbara Streisand on this subject. Colleen tells us how to get certified through the International Society of Arboriculture, and brings us up to speed on some Facebook drama. But first, a garden update... It's been a bad year for the roses. Watch the videos we discuss at the end of the episode at our website: www.horticulturati.com Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our theme song is “Plants” by The Horticulturati House Band. Mentioned in this episode: Tree Folks Urban Forest Stewards Program; "The Secret Life of Plants: Visualizing Vegetative Movement 1880-1903" by Oliver Gaycken in Early Popular Visual Culture (Feb 2012); Charles Percy's The Birth of a Flower (1910); The Revolutionary Genius of Plants by Stefano Mancuso; Science in Action: Time Lapse Photography (1964); On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970).
49 minutes | a year ago
Xeriscape & The Hundredth Meridian
Shake off those umbrellas! On this episode, Austin-based garden designers Colleen Dieter and Leah Churner discuss Central Texas’ climate and its consequences. Specifically, rain. And the lack thereof. Leah explains how longitude is destiny, and Colleen examines how “Xeriscape” became “Zeroscape.” But first, a garden update: Leah’s ripping out landscape fabric and Colleen has a misadventure with a skid-steer. Email us at email@example.com and visit us at www.horticulturati.com. Our theme song is “Plants” by The Horticulturati House Band. Mentioned in this episode: “Austin’s on the Wrong Side of the 100th Meridian,” by Christopher Collins in The Texas Observer, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Path to Power by Robert Caro, Southwest Gardening by Rosalie Doolittle and Harriet Tiedebohl, and “Gravel in the Garden: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” with Elizabeth McGreevy on KLRU’s Central Texas Gardener.
63 minutes | a year ago
Joshua Trees & Martha Stewart
On the premiere episode of The Horticulturati, Austin-based landscape designers Colleen Dieter and Leah Churner discuss the majesty of Joshua Trees and the thorns of Martha Stewart. But first, it's gardeners' corner: Colleen plants an orchard for wildlife and Leah buries cardboard to build soil. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit us at www.horticulturati.com. Our theme song is “Plants” by The Horticulturati House Band. Mentioned in this episode: Womack Nursery, Legg Creek Farm, American Eden by Wade Graham, Special Occasions by Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart’s Gardening: Month By Month, Just Desserts: The Unauthorized Biography of Martha Stewart by Jerry Oppenheimer, and this Cereal Cube Castle.
1 minutes | a year ago
Introducing The Horticulturati
The Horticulturati is a new gardening talkshow co-hosted by designers Leah Churner and Colleen Dieter. Visit us at www.horticulturati.com
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