Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Meet Our Community: Lisa Wagner, garden educator and blogger

 


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.)


Lisa Wagner



Raised-bed vegetables in mid-May
My gardening passions are solidly divided between naturalistic gardening with native plants (providing habitat for wildlife) and vegetable gardening. Growing up, I took a keen interest in my grandma’s garden in Northern California, which was full of vegetables and fruits, much of which she canned. My own first gardening enthusiasms were for edibles too, including fruit trees and berries. At the time, I was founding director of a small botanical garden on an old homestead willed to the Georgia college where I taught. There I focused on adding native plants, creating pollinator-friendly borders, and overseeing a children’s vegetable garden program. Later, my husband and I moved to a wonderful old house in upstate South Carolina surrounded by a LOT of lawn. Over 20 years we transformed most of that lawn into a native woodland garden, native perennial beds, a meadow, naturalistic shrub borders, and a vegetable garden.

I have a special fondness for early-flowering native wildflowers like bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), hepatica, and trout lily (Erythronium americanum). When bloodroot flowers in late March, it’s a wonderful sight.

I’m a plant ecologist by background but spent most of my career connecting people to plants and nature as a garden educator. I continue to teach and do presentations as a volunteer in Asheville, North Carolina, where we live part time. We also have a house in Le Bic, Quebec.

Two of my favorite gardens are Great Dixter in southern England and Jardins de M├ętis/Reford Gardens in eastern Quebec. Both are remarkably individualistic creations by passionate horticulturists and continue to be beautifully managed as public gardens while still exuding the creativity and passion of the original gardeners.

Pocket meadow in late August
I started my blog Natural Gardening in 2007 to reflect on what I had been doing, observing, and enjoying in the garden. I loved writing posts and sharing photos, and it became an almost daily practice. Three of my gardens are now documented: our former S.C. garden, our garden in Asheville, and our native plant-oriented garden in Quebec. Blogging connects me with the natural world by allowing me to revisit past seasons and track things like the arrival of the first hummingbird in spring or flowering times of native wildflowers or when I planted sugar snap peas. I appreciate having a visual record of how the gardens have changed over time. But equally important, regular writing has honed my observation skills, clarified my writing, and encouraged me to expand creatively in other ways, especially by returning to art. Several years ago I started a second blog, Places of the Spirit, as part of a year-long daily writing challenge. I continue to write there about a wider range of topics, including foodways, culture, nature, and sense of place.

I’m currently working on a book about the improbable story of how two Americans, who spoke little French at the time, bought a historic cottage in Quebec surrounded by ornamental gardens and rustic outbuildings. It includes our experiences over the two summers and winters we’ve spent there. I’m hopeful we can return to Quebec this summer after a year away.

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Thanks for sharing your work and gardening passions with us, Lisa! You can follow Lisa on her blogs, Natural Gardening and Places of the Spirit.

Photographs courtesy of Lisa Wagner.

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