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Gardening Advice from an Expert Cape Cod Gardener

The secret garden-like nature of Fornari’s backyard makes for a true sanctuary, where Fornari can be one with the flora that surrounds her.

Fornari knows young people are interested in food, be it wholesome organic nutrition or new flavor discoveries, and she hopes to draw them into the garden by podcasting information that will interest them. “It’s become my mission,” she says. For the last two years, she and fellow garden communicator Ellen Zachos have done a podcast program called “Plantrama.” Their mantra is “Science, art and dinner. It’s all in your own backyard.” Podcasts include discussion on eating plants and how to grow them. “Ellen is a forager and professional gardener. We are both very opinionated and don’t always agree,” Fornari notes, which results in lively, fun and informative podcasts. (Episodes are available at 

“I never intended to be a writer or a garden professional,” Fornari says. “Sometimes life takes you down paths that you never intended to walk.”

She and Dan, a marine geologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, made time for a trip to Italy in recent years, but she is most content at home. “Why leave this?” she asks, gesturing around her. Cardinals pause by her poppies, while Blue Jays linger by the catmint. (Could they be on her payroll?) Hardscape blends seamlessly into the landscape—stonework and walkways look as if they have always been there. Containers of flowers create splashes of color. Chipmunks zip around, much to Sparky’s delight. For Fornari, home is her great escape.

A few years short of her seventh decade, Fornari is steaming ahead. She consults several days a week at Country Garden, maintains her own garden, and travels the country for speaking engagements. Meanwhile, she has another idea for a book. “A novel with heroes and villains. Plants play a huge part in it,” she says with a grin. “Freud said there are two things that give our lives meaning: work and love. I’m blessed to enjoy my work.”

“Sand & Soil” is available at Titcomb’s Bookshop, 432 Route 6A, East Sandwich. For more from C.L. Fornari, visit The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is hosting a book signing on Thursday May 30, 2019 at 4pm.

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