Gardens as Creative Non-Fiction

Spring 2019
Evening and Weekend
Class Size: 42
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Marja Eloheimo square
ethnobotany, environmental and cultural anthropology, plant studies
academic and creative nonfiction writing, community studies, analog game design

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

--Marcus Tullius Cicero

This writing and field botany program will examine ways in which both gardens and writing embody intersections between human creativity and the facts--or “nonfiction”--of the environment.

In the writing portion of the program, we will be especially attentive to the following lines of inquiry and their implications: accurate observation, effective communication of sensory detail, and the creation on the page of the writer as a robust and multi-dimensioned narrator. We will draw on tools and methods of analysis from the fields of creative nonfiction writing and literature to undertake this work.  In the field botany portion of the program, we will engage with Evergreen’s Longhouse Ethnobotanical Garden, learning to identify and understand many of the plants; carrying out seasonal garden care; and examining how gardens—with their various contexts, intentions, designs, and dynamics—can function both as a metaphor for creative non-fiction and as a resource for writing it.

 One way we will link these two disciplines—writing and field botany—will be through the practice of creative nature journaling. Program participants will have abundant opportunity to develop the habits of mind of analytic, creative, and resilient thinkers, observers, writers, and “gardeners.” 

Books under consideration include  The Sweet Breathing of Plants  (edited by Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson) and  Braiding Sweetgrass  (Robin Wall Kimmerer). Program participants must be willing to share their writing with all program members for their response, in person and in a program-only space online.


This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

writing, education, and professions related to botany, ecology, and cultural studies


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

$45 for entrance fees plus art and garden supplies

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 42

Scheduled for: Evening and Weekend

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 6:00 pm
SEM 2 B1107 - Workshop

Advertised schedule:

Wednesdays 6-9pm & Saturdays 9:30am - 5pm

Located in: Olympia