the show

The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion

encore date: March 3, 2016

original air date: January 7, 2016

Designer and gardener Jenny Peterson takes us on her poignant and spirited healing journey with cancer in The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion: Cultivating Hope, Healing and Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet. On tour, Elayne Lansford welded a magical Bottle Tree World for strengthening renewal when she and her husband both faced cancer. Daphne champions heat and humidity-tolerant Newe Ya’ar sage, a surefire draw for pollinators in spring. And find out why she composts plants in winter. John shows how to make a cold frame to grow all winter long, especially in small spaces.


Episode Segments

On Tour

Elayne Lansford's Healing Garden

Elayne Lansford’s Bottle World healing garden is a tribute to triumph over life-threatening illness and the power of healing through gardening. Reframing her reality by giving new life to old objects helped her when husband John Villanacci faced a random disease and lung transplant, soon after she recovered from breast cancer. It was a twist for Elayne, a psychologist who helps clients every day.  In her refuge of sanctuary and peace, she worked out some of her sorrow and anger through hands-on activity and creation.



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Jenny Peterson's The Cancer Survivor's Garden Companion

Designer and gardener Jenny Peterson takes us on her poignant and spirited healing journey with cancer in The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion: Cultivating Hope, Healing and Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet.

Watch more CTG Interview videos on YouTube →

Question of the Week

Why apply compost in winter?

While compost may be applied any time of year, winter is the best time to apply large amounts when plants are dormant.  Compost is 100% organic matter and needs a little time to be broken down by microbes and become a part of your garden soil. That microbial action turns the compounds that are tied up in that organic matter into precious, slow-release nutrients for your plants.

But more importantly, that organic matter will become a part of your soil as it’s broken down, slowly, making for better soil structure, and a better environment for most plants’ roots, over time. Better soil structure means better water and nutrient holding capacity, as well as better oxygen exchange. And that is a good thing for many plants, both ornamental and vegetable.

You can add compost as mulch in garden beds around established plants any time of year, but adding a 1 to 3 inch layer in the winter allows for a slower breakdown, and is just a good all-around practice. Putting this task on your annual garden to-do list will make a difference, over time, in the health of your soil, and will provide enough nutrients for most native plants.

Note:  compost isn’t a universally good thing. If you have plants that prefer sandy or even rocky soil, or if you have succulents that are recommended to be planted on berms or extremely loose soil, those areas of your garden could actually be hampered by the addition of compost, so be judicious.


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Plant of the Week

Newe Ya’ar Sage

Newe Ya’ar Sage

Salvia officinalis x S. fruticosa

Newe Ya’ar sage, also known as silver sage, is a hybrid of Salvia officinalis and Salvia fruticosa. A culinary sage, it’s excellent in any foodie’s garden, but is also a great ornamental, even if you never plan to cook with it. Developed by horticulturists in Newe Ya’ar, Israel, the goal was to develop a sage hardy enough to be commercially productive in Israel’s harsh climate, and they definitely succeeded with this cross. Like many other soft-leaved Mediterranean herbs, Salvia officinalis, the common culinary sage, often struggles with our intense weather in the southern U.S. In spring, when humidity may be very high and days are often cloudy, garden sage may rot overnight. And in the summer, when humidity is low and the sun is bright, it may burn to a crisp under our intense rays and off-the-chart heat. These conditions can also affect the volatile compounds in culinary herbs that give them their valuable flavor. With silver sage, you not only get a plant that looks great and performs well in our harsh southern climate, but it also retains its savory taste. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil, and like other culinary herbs, water sparingly, except in the hottest, driest times. It’s listed as hardy into USDA Zone 8 and so may be winter hardy in your garden, which would allow it to live several years and potentially get 3 or 4 feet wide and tall. And, as if you needed any more reasons to plant silver sage, it will be covered in delicate spring blooms, serving as a valuable pollen source for bees and other pollinators.   Viewer picture goes to Nelwyn Persky who painted concrete bunny statues for Easter last year. Inspired by Merrideth Jile’s How To on staining concrete, she followed his instructions and did a great job for her first try—she admits she rushed a bit, but knows the steps for future projects!