In the last five years I’ve been refining my ideas about the depth and breadth of  human culture that lie behind the making of gardens.  These speaking topics are but a partial list of these ideas.

THESE FRAGRANT DRY HILLS: Learning and Loving the Landscape of Southwest France

What happens when a landscape “garden” tries to tell the story of 2,000 years of interaction among people, plants, and landscape? The land of the Gard region of southwest France has been continuously occupied and worked hard in order to support its small population. An amazing landscape narrative, Memoires de Garrigue, does just that in a moving and generous way. Paula Panich will tell the story of what draws her to this place time and again — and how the use of plants in the garrigue (think of our chapparral) have resonance for us here in Southern California.

Ever Changing/Never Less Than Whole: Perception and Robert Irwin’s Garden at the Getty Center in Los Angeles

Writer Paula Panich visited contemporary artist Robert Irwin’s garden one morning a week for six months for a particular reason: She wanted to test the artist’s ideas about seeing and perceiving. The result? She agrees with him. Perception is an activity and can be enhanced in the human being. She will show some of the hundreds of photographs of this ever changing garden, and urge you to push your own capabilities about how and what you see.

The Shape of Your Heart, the Shape of Your Garden: Spatial Archetypes and the Reflection of Culture

The late architect and Pratt professor Mimi Lobell (1942-2001) held that humankind has danced with six basic shapes that lie behind the forms of human expression — art, architecture, garden-making, music, literature, and so forth. Which shapes attract you?  And how are they reflected in your garden? This talk also plays with ideas found in Werner Herzog’s documentary film, Cave of the Forgotten Dreams.

Tales of Passion, Obsession, and Other First Hand Reports From the Garden

Do you think garden writing is mostly about rattling teacups among the delphiniums? Think again. You know in your heart the garden is all about passion and obsession. Spend an enlightening evening with Paula Panich as she unearths written tales of sex, lying, cheating, greed, and other first hand reports from the garden. Hear the voices of witty and world-weary writers (ever think of Chekhov’s garden outside that cherry orchard?) who know it’s not all about the Garden of Eden.

The Landscape of Sorrow and Love: M.F.K. Fisher in Hemet, California

The great food writer and prose stylist, M.F.K. Fisher (1908-1992) and her second husband, artist Dillwyn Parrish, moved to Hemet from Switzerland in 1940 to escape war and to cope with Parrish’s fatal disease. This is their story, and the story of the Southern California landscape of its time. (The landscapes of the Hemet Valley and the San Jacinto Mountains are of particular interest to Paula Panich, as she has lived part-time in Idyllwild for five years.)
(Suggestion: serving tea or lunch using M.F.K. Fisher’s recipes. Speaker can advise.)

M.F.K. Fisher and Her Home Ground:  Living and Loving in the Landscape of California

M.F.K. Fisher (1908-1992), the great prose stylist and food writer, began her California odyssey as a three-year-old in Whittier in the teens and twenties; she returned to California to Hemet during the war years; spent vacations in Laguna Beach; lived in Napa for fifteen years; and spent  her final years on a ranch in  Sonoma. Hers is a California story of abundance and struggle.
(Suggestion: serving tea or lunch using M.F.K. Fisher’s recipes. Speaker can advise.)

Writer Mary Hunter Austin and her Land of Little Rain: The Beloved Landscape of the Owens River Valley

The exquisite writer Mary Hunter (1868-1934) came to California at age 20, in 1888. The beautiful landscape she saw moved her to write her first piece of prose. A few years later, living in the Owens River Valley, the now-experienced and more confident Mary Austin wrote her masterpiece, The Land of Little Rain (1903), about which Edward Abbey wrote: [This book] is about earth, sky, weather, and some of the plants and animals that survive and reproduce among those elemental and elementary events, and about a few of the human beings who once lived in what now seems to us, from our urbanized point of view, like something close to an original state of nature.”

Nothing like it had been written before — a hymn to the American desert. Austin was the original writer of the beauty and ecology of California’s dry natural world. This talk introduces Austin, the beautiful landscape of the Owens River Valley, and the price it paid so that Los Angeles could become the megalopolis it is.

There Really Was a Cherry Orchard: Anton Chekhov and His Passion for Gardens and Landscape

Anton Chekhov’s (1860-1904) letters, plays, and stories reveal him to be one of the world’s most passionate gardeners and lovers of landscape. Her pursued his gardens at his final house in Yalta, near the very end of his far-too-short life.
This talk is a celebration of one of the world’s most compassionate and humane writers.
(Suggest Russian tea and pastries to be served.)

What Julie and Julia Have To Do With You

This workshop will energize writers and bloggers! Awaken  renewed passion for your subject — and for your reader— no matter if you are writing about gardening, plants, food, or urban poultry.

All talks are illustrated and are one hour long, although time can be expanded at will – or contracted, but the latter not by much.

$500 plus expenses
Please contact Paula Panich’s agent, Marj Clark to put you in touch with Paula for further details
Publicity photographs available upon request.