Emily Murphy is the author of Grow What You Love, 12 Food Plant Families to Change Your Life, featuring 12 sets of seasonal ingredients, garden-to-table recipes, and easy to follow methods for growing your garden, no matter the size.
Emily is an organic gardener with a BS in Ethnobotanical Resources from Humboldt State University under which she studied botany, environmental science, and ecology as well as religious and cultural studies, and herbal medicine. She later studied pedagogy at Sierra Nevada College and garden design with the California School of Garden Design, and worked as a classroom teacher and school garden educator. She teaches and speaks regularly about gardening and living, and her writing appears in numerous publications such as Better Homes & Gardens. Emily is also a photographer, cook, garden design coach and consultant, and creator of the celebrated blog, Pass The Pistil.
A native of Northern California, Emily spent her early years between her parent’s home in in the far reaches of coastal California near the Oregon border, and the homes of her grandparent’s in Sonoma County. She weaves stories from each of these places into her writings, gleaning from her experiences of living on a homestead, farm, and the neat city blocks of a college town where food and nature could be found just as easily in each respective landscape.
MY START (First published August of 2010)
If you were around in the 70’s, I was the kid down the road whose family was growing potatoes in her front yard instead of a lawn. I was told it was Portuguese tradition and good luck for a new home. (My paternal grandfather was Portuguese, a dear little man who ran a farm in Sonoma County, California.) I remember feeling a mixed sense of pride and embarrassment at our patch of potatoes, conspicuously placed for all to see.
We grew food and flowers, mostly daisies, and were fairly self reliant on our 1/2 acre lot, at least when I was young. But my passion for gardening is probably not unlike yours, a more complex yet simple affair. A love affair.
It began with natural childhood curiosity, time spent outdoors, and my grandmother, the garden she kept, and the pockets of orchards and berry patches sprinkled around the hillsides near her home. She grew grapes on the arbor of her deck where the steps led down to a garden of meandering paths and beds filled with flowers and edible treats. On one fence there were snap peas growing and around the corner butterflies flocked delicate, pink flowers. It was a place to explore and wonder. The fencing and gates protecting the garden from the surrounding wilderness added to its enchantment, heightening awareness and forever imprinting itself upon me.
My personal gardening style emulates these two realms. A blend of wild, form and function creating a place to discover, retreat, grow food and generate habitat, for critters and humans alike. However, I appreciate and find myself in awe of almost any garden. Traditional gardens, roof top gardens, potted gardens, meadows, even highly structured gardens and, yes, even those filled with topiary.
Emily Murphy is a garden designer, writer, enthusiastic botanist, runner, cyclist, consultant, educator, and native of Northern California.