Jenny Peterson – The Cancer Survivors Garden Companion

Cancer Survivors Garden Companion

Ann and I were fortunate to interview Jenny Peterson, just after her new book was published. Jenny is an amazing, extremely positive lady who is an inspiration for us all.

A Garden that Heals 
Pittsburgh, Pa. (October 5, 2015): When Jenny Peterson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, it rocked her world. Her cancer treatment was hard, emotional and often deeply depressing. But Peterson, a garden designer and Master Gardener, did not let the cancer diagnosis define her. She used her desire to garden and dig in the dirt again to pull her out of the darkness. And she discovered that gardening is good medicine –for the body, mind and spirit.

The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion: Cultivating Hope, Healing and Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet
(St. Lynn’s Press, January 2016) tells Peterson’s story and explores the therapeutic benefits of this vital “earth connection,” including inspirational profiles of other cancer survivors, both men and women, whose gardens became their partners in healing.

With gentle empathy, beautiful photographs and easy how-to steps, Peterson shows others how to create their own backyard haven for healing – a personal restorative garden – with well-grounded guidance about diet, exercise, mental focus and spiritual renewal. Her book adds a fresh voice to the growing fields of horticultural therapy and therapeutic gardens.

What others are saying about The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion:

“Jenny’s tips for incorporating gardening into your life for mind, body, and spiritual health are ingenious! As a cancer coach, I will definitely be suggesting this book to my clients.” – Susan Gonzalez, BSN, CPCC, co-author of 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It, and editor of The Savvy Sister blog
“Jenny’s beautiful book reminds us all that life can be found in the healing, meditative act of gardening. By lovingly tending a garden, we can learn to nurture ourselves, restoring our mind, body and spirit in the process.” – Ray Anne Evans, Executive Director, Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas

“Jenny’s connection with gardening, garden design, and simply being in nature remained strong throughout her cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. In fact, it was part of what helped her through. And now she is helping others to learn from her powerful experience.” – Naomi A. Sachs, Founding Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network; co-author, Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces

The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion will teach readers how to use the garden to heal, find hope and feel joy.

About the Author
Jenny Peterson is a landscape designer and Master Gardener specializing in xeriscaping and small urban spaces. She is a cancer survivor who found hope and healing in her garden, even during the darkest days of chemotherapy and radiation. In the process, she made deep connections with the cancer support community, including physicians, nutritionists, bodywork practitioners, psychologists and spiritual counselors. Peterson co-authored Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013) with Kylee Baumle. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her fiancé, 19 chickens, two dogs, two quails and a goat.

You can listen to the interview here :   Interviewing Jenny Peterson

If you would like to purchase the book : The Cancer Survivors Garden Companion

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It’s all about the people !

Digital Radio, always on, step through and listen now !
Digital Radio, always on, step through and listen now !

Listen here

Most people are so interesting, it’s just a matter of coaxing them to talk to you, then asking the right questions.-

Are you passionate about your garden ?,

Do you have a favorite  landscape ?,

Would you like to be interviewed ?

We started this series of horticultural based interviews with one simple idea, which was, that within our very diverse industry there were many people :-

both Homeowners,

Designers or Creators,


or Visitors  and Admirers,

who had fascinating stories to tell about their everyday lives.

We have not been disappointed , in fact, we have been surprised by how many folks have a real passion for all things outside, particularly by how many people would like to reconnect with nature.

Tiger Rhus
Tiger Rhus

So with that in mind here is a day in the life of… Ann & Chris. the co-hosts of Growing Trends, we ventured out last Saturday, bright & early, just as the sun was rising :-

5.00 am Saturday

Ann & I had literally, a ‘field day’ on Saturday.

We each got up at the crack of dawn, and went to interview Farmer Steve, at Weston Red Barn Farm

We arrived at 7.30am and had already missed Steve, who had picked a crop of fresh peaches for Cindy ( his lovely wife) to take to market some 50 miles away.

Early one morning , Weston Red Barn Farm
Early one morning , Weston Red Barn Farm

Steve & Cindy have, for the past 25 years been slowly developing Weston Red Barn Farm to a traditional working farm, specifically to show kids how farms are part of the community. They have Apples, Peaches, Chickens, Goats, Horses, a Farm Shop, Pumpkin fields,  along with a wedding venue. It keeps them very busy throughout the summer and autumn.


One of Steve’s farm workers arrives to feed the chickens, goats, ducks, and horses, calls Steve for us, who appears over the horizon in a 4 wheeler…

We set up the Mics, the recorders,then we interviewed Steve for around an hour, it could have been much longer, Steve had a fascinating journey and one that you will be able to hear on our show shortly at  Growing Trends Internet Radio

A few snippets : –

They have an amazing 12,000 – 15,000 school children visit them every year !

They have 67 weddings at the farm in a year.!

Old Milk Churns
Old Milk Churns

I happen to know one of the current family members , of the family that invented the milk churn, their company was called Express Dairies, they developed the original milk churn to take milk from the ‘shires’ to London on the newly built railways, for the burgeoning population of the city.Needless to say they made a handsome profit !

Of course these days most milk isn’t delivered by horse & cart, or by electric milk floats – yes way back in the 60’s milk in England was delivered by battery powered eco-friendly milk floats, as a youngster I often helped the ‘Milkman’ on his rounds for an extra shilling or two.

Express diaries
Express diaries

Ok, so back to the interview.

The Farm is about to lay out it’s Pumpkins for sale so Ann found a few pumpkins lying around and ….posed for a quick picture – they sure look impressive !

It's fun here...
It’s fun here…

There was even time for a spot of ‘picking’, in my miss spent youth we would go ‘Scrumping’

These look yummy !
These look yummy !


With our interview completed, it was time to rush back to interview our second fascinating person of the day.

Alan Sargent was over 4000 miles away, and 6 hours ahead of us, in Petworth, West Sussex in England.

A must for Head Gardeners.
A must for Head Gardeners.

Alan has a most varied career in horticulture :-

He has Built or,

Designed and Built dozens of Chelsea Flower Show Gardens,

Design & Constructed Award Winning Landscapes.

Formed a Trade Association,

Judged Garden Exhibits,

Written Books

Found time to be a Head Gardener at one of England’s finest and busiest Estates – the 12000 acre Goodwood Estate – with its 44 acre gardens, airfield, horse racing,and motor racing circuits.

Goodwood estate
Goodwood estate

the race course…

The Race Course
The Race Course

the motor racing circuit. – or for the Petrol heads as Alan refers to them !

goodwood 4

Alan’s skills are legendary, and he has a keen eye for detail – I am a detail freak too, so I love his workmanship !

One of those more famous English Schools
One of those more famous English Schools

His stone work is superb.

Ann and I were to coin an English expression ‘Plum Tuckered’ – you will need to look up it’s meaning, here’s a clue to replenish the reserves we stopped for breakfast..

10.30am back home.

It was time for that quick breakfast, and of course coffee – coffee in America is so good …

Then we quickly reviewed the recordings, packed up the recording gear. Headed off to the lake some 53 miles away for a well earned break, sailing our little racing cruiser ‘Stiletto’

Stiletto - Capri 25
Stiletto – Capri 25

It’s amazing how relaxing an afternoon sail can be.. this week it was a tad hot at 100f but still fun.

This Weeks Show

This weeks show will be about a fantastic store that brings in it’s very own miniature pony each weekend, where it has a small coral in the ‘Fairy Garden’ at the back of the store. – you can buy all many of things for creating a miniature garden !

We are also talking to Richard Benfield a Garden Tourist Guru, whilst he is on his travels, around the world, we caught up with Richard in Western Australia..  do listen to the show at..  Growing Trends Internet Radio  if you, or you know someone that would be fun to interview drop us a line and we will get back to you.

In the meantime we have a website telling you more at

You will be able to hear all about Weston Red Barn Farm, along with Alan’s adventures in the coming weeks.

If you have someone in mind we could interview drop us a line briefly explaining who & why.

Ann & Chris.

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When did you last walk in a park, or a garden?

Ann & I thought it would be fun to explore in a little depth the opportunities to re-connect with nature and the ways we can all achieve this within our busy schedules.

Recent reports have shown that even a simple stroll in a woodland has beneficial results, as the trees give off a scent that is very calming to us all – the Japanese even have a word for this.

Green entrance 1

We also know that the soil contains beneficial microbes that act in a similar way to anti-depressants – perhaps this is why so many gardeners are happy dedicated folks ?

Our promenade starts at home…. with a stroll around a garden.

Taking a contemplative stroll in a garden is very relaxing
Taking a contemplative stroll in a garden is very relaxing

By adding the artificial stream we created more interest as you walked around the garden.

We added a small stream to flow alongside the path
We added a small stream to flow alongside the path

Many of the gardens we have designed and built contain a pathway to walk around the garden, they are wide enough for two people to walk side by side, usually constructed of a long-lasting, hard wearing semi flexible surface, ( we avoided concrete as its everywhere in the urban environment, and we have found that natural materials almost always look better)

Here the pathway is made of bound limestone and leads around the garden, directly from the brick terrace.
Here the pathway is made of bound limestone and leads around the garden, directly from the brick terrace.

Here the path acts as transition between the shrub beds and the more formal lawn, further over was a fenced in swimming pool.

Path along lawn edge
Path along lawn edge

The amount of traffic, will to some extent dictate the types of finish materials best suited to the task – all will need a sub-base preparation that can withstand the intended loads. ( a reminder for designers).

A lunch break walk, or special trip to the museum , brings a different style of path.

The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art , Sculpture Park
The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art , Sculpture Park

This beautiful pathway was repeated on the other side of the parkland setting

This heavily trafficked walkway above , is constructed of large rectangular pieces of natural stone, with a suitable load bearing base beneath, it is designed for many years of use.

Anyone for Badminton?
Anyone for Badminton?

Some of us are lucky to have offices with roof top garden for us to relax in for a few moments, this one was attached to the staff restaurant in central London.

Wooden pathway on Roof Garden
Wooden pathway on Roof Garden

This Roof Garden walkway is constructed of pre-treated wood and then stained, it’s laid on a spreader system, to allow the loads to be evenly distributed across the roofs entire surface ( one of those engineering requirement when working on a roof). We stained the wood green to soften it’s impact and to add to the whole ambiance.

Back home for a moment , this stepping path acts as a beautiful transition from lawn to path to pond

A little more adventurous, next to a small pond.
A little more adventurous, next to a small pond.

Walking to the rose arbor from the house….

The rose arbor was connected to the house by the pathway.
The rose arbor was connected to the house by the pathway.

Constructed of large wooden pieces, this treated timber, then stained black stepping path has pea-gravel between the pieces so we could add scented herbs , which release their essence as you step on them, the edges of the shingle are stopped off with bricks set between the wooden pieces. Creating a soft, but effective pathway.

Some years ago at a Dutch Floriade we came across this superbly, educational pathway.

A somewhat unusual pathway
A somewhat unusual pathway

Designed so that users could observe nature on the floor of the pond, it was both inspirational and educational.

Almost all gardens benefit from a method to transit from one space to another, here we created a gravel path that took the place of a traditional lawn, serving two main purposes, it significantly reduced aftercare, and reduced watering, yet looked as if it was meant to be here.

By breaking up the gravel path with two angled lines of paving and setting a pergola between the illusion of a larger space was created.
By breaking up the gravel path with two angled lines of paving and setting a pergola between the illusion of a larger space was created.

This garden was only 10ft wide by the shed !

This roof garden, was the subject of an exhibition, so a great deal of work was required to create a suitable pathway around.

Sometimes it is necessary to go to great lengths to create pathways
Sometimes it is necessary to go to great lengths to create pathways

The roof top garden was tracing the history of London’s gardens from the middle ages to the present time – well some 20 years ago.

Here’s how it finally looked..

Museum of London
Museum of London

I’ve no idea how it looks today !

Finally, if you want very low maintenance, it’s best to stick to hard surfaces, like this granite sett pathway..

This granite sett pathway is extremely hard wearing  and yet very rustic looking.
This granite sett pathway is extremely hard wearing and yet very rustic looking.

If you want a softer look , using natural bricks ( as long as they are frost resistant) is another alternative to consider.

Brick makes a very attractive pathway
Brick makes a very attractive pathway

or perhaps for the busy executive, a pathway that’s covered by a pergola on either side…

The pathways are on either side of this beautiful lawn
The pathways are on either side of this beautiful lawn

Hopefully we have inspired you to step outside and wander down to your nearest park, playground or just enjoy outside.

Find out more, listen to the amazing folks that create, tend, are passionate about or just have built these beautiful relaxing gardens, our show is all about the people

To hear our internet radio show Listen here   or our web site visit  Growing Trends Web Site

We would love to hear from you.

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A new name for the Blog – Growing Trends


We changed the name of our blog today to ‘Growing Trends’. Growing Trends is our internet based radio show, that is all about people.

The home owner that is passionate about their garden, who has a specialised skill or knowledge or style of garden landscape. It’s about the experts that design or help create them, or one of the many consultants that bring new ideas to each continent every year. lastly it’s about products and materials and how to best use them in your landscape.

We need your help especially if you are one of those passionate people with a beautiful garden landscape , or to ask those friends of yours who have those amazing gardens to contact us so we can try and interview them, for the show. it doesn’t matter if they are in another country, we can use skype to interview. If you want to see the program schedule it’s available on the website at

We would also ask for pictures of these lovely landscapes, so we can add them to our growing library, please do include any credits so we can include them as well.

In return we are going to try and post here many more of the beautiful projects we have been fortunate to work on over the years, along with the anecdotes and experiences, after all it really is all about the people  !


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A new trend or just more observant ?

I don’t know about you but, it’s sure been a busy week. Here in the MIdWest the temperatures have been unseasonable , with lower temperatures than normal and lots of rain. This has had a bit of a calming effect on plant growth, with some unusual results – for instance it hasn’t been a particularly good season for of all things Rosemary.

My roses are just returning to flower after a prolonged intensive care program, which afforded harsh pesticides, insecticides and miticides use. 

“She” – who much be obeyed, had given due notice that she would not be amused if they continued to look like a cross between a spiders web and a spotty leaf.

This week was also National Farmers Market Week, so we interviewed some really interesting growers at a market, we then interviewed an amazing couple who have literally planted thousands of unusual trees on their mini estate – loved the Larch, and a Zelkova, and a magnificent specimen Oak.!

All this interviewing had us thinking – well the brain cells were stimulated a tad more than normal. We realized we were noticing a trend that I suspect is becoming more prevalent, in which people are missing the contact they once had with their suppliers. The market was just bustling from early in the morning, with regulars, who really wanted to converse with the many producers, all the wonderful folks we’ve been interviewing all really enjoyed talking about their garden passions. 

We could see time and again, that there is a need to engage folks, and that youngsters are part of this, they are seeking information on a  one to one basis, sure you could find this on your phone or tablet, but  thats only half the story, the big stores are impersonal, some even intimidating, what we are seeing is a return to the more, small personal specialist. It will be interesting to see if it continues. Big may not be as beneficial as it once was !

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Growing Trends our new Radio Show

About three months ago, Ann ( my Co Host on Growing Trends) & I were given the opportunity to Host a radio show, we were basically given the chance to create our very own show, we wanted to be a little different, so after much thought and deliberations ‘Growing Trends’  was born, we would both love to hear what you think ? What we could include in the shows?

We’ve been having a ball talking to the most amazing folks in their spaces, they are in our midst and yet we hardly ever see them in this  light,  we all rush around in our daily lives, heads buried in smartphones or tablets, completely disconnected with the nature that is all around us.

Our guests are all connected by either their garden or the landscape where they work, some are keen gardeners, others technical experts in their field, all are in tune with nature, it’s as if it’s a constant healing process.

“A little oasis in the middle of suburbia.”

belinda impressionist

( Belinda & Terry’s Garden)

All find time to re connect almost daily with their space, we feel so privileged to be able to hear all their stories and bring them to you usually in their own homes.

Sometimes the recordings will be a little quirky, it’s because we are not in a studio. Some are far away, and we have to rely on the internet, which gives an odd echo from time to time, but talking to folks in Australia, England, South Africa, brings us all together.

“Chestnut growing down under!”

2013-11-15 18.45.34 HDR

( John Stanley’s Australian outback)

We caught up with John in Australia early one morning.

“In my global work I see new trends in merchandising, display, social media marketing, general retailing, culinary eco-tourism and lifestyle retail”

we will catch up with John again shortly in the meantime.

“Finding happiness in a garden – how it’s done at the Kelly Gallery”


(Kelly Daniels – The Kelly Gallery)

Kelly was just inspirational , almost magical, her photography is enchanting.

You can find us on the internet at , or download the phone app Live365 or you can  download Growing Trends as a podcast from the website.

Our upcoming schedule is both varied, fun and very different, here’s a few pictures taken on locations we visited..just wait till you hear the stories…

( half-pint McGee !)

half pint mcgee

“A simple stunning memorial garden”

kauffman memorial garden 1

” A sculpture park extraordinaire”



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Special gardens don’t just happen.


The picture above is from a classic French village, in this case it was a restaurant we stopped at during a summer vacation. It was special because it drew the eye and the multitude of geraniums seemed to go  on for ever. Red is by the way a great attention grabbing colour !

Sometimes a garden landscape just seems to ‘pop’ right out at you and you look almost spellbound by its balance and harmony. This doesn’t happen by chance very often. It is a result of a client choosing the right designer and then working together as a team to create a dream.  A living stage if you will , that constantly changes with the seasons, and yet develops into this amazing restful, visual smorgasbord of colour, contrast and functionality.

Today I thought it might be fun to show some projects under construction, you will notice that most are ordered, very little mess to clutter the picture ( the cleaner you can keep a site the more efficient and the higher the final quality often is).

So with out further ado, here are a few true craftsmen at work.


This was an exhibition , with all the parts pre designed, when everything arrived on site, we realised that the back of the site had been raised 18 inches ( 450mm) and this required a complete re-adjustment and refit on site, so Tony and his co-worker did just that. You would never know looking at the final result.


This roof garden looked just like a normal roof, for a little while..then Mike and his co-worker went to work.


It’s hard to believe that this roof above became the picture below…


Or we started with…a mess


some  300 tonnes of sub base, 100 tonnes of sand and 30,000 bricks, 250 tonnes of soil, 500 sq m of turf, 200 plants later….


became this..


What you cannot see, is that these are natural bricks, selected because they are softer looking, colour fast ( they do not bleach with time as a concrete block does) and because they are ‘fired’ they are not all the same size or shape. This is significant because it is almost impossible to lay a continuous pattern without it running out of line, it takes quite a bit of skill to get it just right.


or we started with.. the corner is the edge of the conservatory..


and created…


it is both exciting & fun to create a dream space for someone… here an old set of steps leading to a lawn is completely revamped, we extended the terrace, drained the lawn and raised the levels some 6 inches (150mm).


with a little extra effort…


and looking back..


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