Frequently Asked Questions about the Talking Plants Blog

What is Talking Plants?

Since you already know it's the name of my blog, perhaps what you really want to know is why I have one. Truth is, I've loved and lost so many plants that my beneficent employer thought I might have better luck just talking about them. (I've also loved and lost dogs, too, but NPR isn't crazy enough to give me two blogs. Not yet, anyway.)

Who is Ketzel Levine, anyway?

If you're that curious, you can check out my official NPR biography. But the long and short of it is this:

I was raised in public radio. I started at a member station in the early '70s, joined NPR in time to help launch Morning Edition, worked overseas at the BBC and, in the last 30 years, have been NPR's sports director, arts reporter, workplace correspondent and gardening expert. You may know me better as the Doyenne of Dirt, my nickname during a decade of on-air gardening shtick (1992-2002, RIP) with Scott Simon.

As for my creds, I'm a student of horticulture, a design consultant, a reasonably well-paid lecturer and a garden book author. Mostly, though, I'm a plant nerd.

Why is your blog called Talking Plants?

I had a Talking Plants Web site back in the late '90s while I was taking a break from NPR. It was a hoot. The network lured me back in 2000, ostensibly because of my skills as a reporter. But it was really just to get its hands on that hot commodity of a name and Web site, now worth its weight in humus.

What is the purpose of this blog?

You're really making me work, aren't you? I'm after that community of people in the world who prefer life with more joy and less breaking news, people who love plants, nurseries, gardens, prairies, mountains, forests, and other assorted eco-wonders. Talking Plants is an open invitation to gather with irreverence, humor and shared pleasure, as we meet new plants and cool plant people (I'm not above hobnobbing with the Big Names, you'll meet plenty of them), gain access to incredible private gardens (stick with me), savor inside-industry gossip, swap dead plant stories and get the odd gardening question answered, though NOT by me. Been there, done that, read it here.

How is it different than the earlier Talking Plants, and your other work for NPR?

You're telling me I'm supposed to do other work here?

As for the blog, I hope to get away with even more than I usually do because I won't be as heavily edited by the good-taste police, the folks that take the insult, sting and crass language out of everything I do. Which is not to say this blog isn't edited; au contraire! Even these innocent Q&A's have been reworked to suit The Man. I am, after all, a salaried employee who intends to hold on to her job, n'est-ce pas?

Do you have rules about what people can or can't say in the comments?

Yes. See the Talking Plants Rules for Discussion

What if I have a question or comment about something that I don't want posted to the public?

Use the "Contact Us" form.

Can I link to your blog?


Will you link to my blog?

Maybe, maybe not.

Do I need to sign up to be eligible to post comments?

Not at the moment, but that may change someday as we add new community features to the Web site.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Hi Ketzel:

My name is Jim Varney, and my company Hova Design has just released a gardening product that I think may be of interest to you. It's called the FabricPot and it is precisely that: a decorative plant container made of waterproof breathable fabric. This may sound strange, but our reasons are many (proper soil aeration, more room for roots, prevention of soluble salt absorbtion, etc.). Please visit our website at to see the product (being fabric, it's not only healthy but attractive - but I'm biased) and to learn more about why we believe this is a superior container for indoor gardening.

If you would like, I would be honored to send you a sample for you to test yourself. We have done some extensive testing (granted, we are not biologists) into the nature of plant pots' evaporation rates and their effects on plant growth. I'd be glad to share with you our findings (very geeky) if you are interested.

Thank you for your time. - Jim

Sent by Jim Varney | 10:09 AM | 7-11-2007

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from