Benjamin Vogt tends a two-thousand square foot organic prairie garden, which was named a 2012 best outdoor space by Apartment Therapy and has been on two tours. His garden has been featured online at Fine Gardening, in print in the Omaha World Herald and Lincoln Journal Star, and he's appeared on KOLN (Lincoln's CBS affiliate) as well as three radio programs on KZUM. Benjamin owns a native plant garden coaching and design business, Monarch Gardens, and has presented on sustainable wildlife gardening regionally at nurseries, garden clubs, libraries, and outdoor living events. In August of 2013 Benjamin spoke to over 600 people at Ignite Lincoln, a mini TEDx, on the topic "Re-Prairie Lincoln: A Moral Choice." In April of 2014 he will speak at the annual Bluebirds Across Nebraska conference, and in June of 2014 he will present twice at the Millersville Native Plants in the Landscape conference in PA.
He has guest blogged for Garden Rant, Timber Press, and Gardening Gone Wild, and writes a garden design column for Houzz featuring topics on environmental landscaping with native plants. Benjamin also has a monthly column at the blog Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. You can find his northern Plains plant choices to replace your lawn in a book by Pam Penick: Lawn Gone! Low Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives For Your Yard. Benjamin is a board member with the Wachiska Audubon Society, a southeastern Nebraska prairie and wildlife conservation group which owns nearly 400 acres in grassland open to the public, with another 500 acres in easements.
In addition to his garden writing, Benjamin is the author of the poetry collection Afterimage and two unpublished memoirs -- Morning Glory: A Story of Family & Culture in the Garden and Turkey Red: Memoirs of Oklahoma. His Pushcart Prize nominated poems and creative nonfiction have appeared in American Life in Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Creative Nonfiction, Diagram, Fugue, Hayden's Ferry Review, ISLE, Orion, Puerto del Sol, Sou'wester, Subtropics, The Sun, Verse Daily, and several anthologies including Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes (C&R Press) and The Tallgrass Prairie Reader (University of Iowa Press). He has an M.F.A. from The Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he teaches English.
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Current Unpublished Book Projects:
Morning Glory: A Story of Family & Culture in the Garden
A memoir about growing up gardening with my mother in Minnesota, her eventual revelations of family abuse and depression, and my confronting this lineage of violence in my own life through nature and landscape history. (75,000 words -- sample here)
Turkey Red: Memoirs of Oklahoma
Memoir reflecting on my early years living in Oklahoma, and my love / hate relationship with the state (a place that is an accelerated microcosm of westward American expansion), all the while exploring the natural and cultural history of the region through my Mennonite family's immigration in the 1870s from Russia, and the resulting displacement of the prairie and its Native Americans. (broad outline / description) (85,000 words -- samples here and here)
Ethical Gardening: Digging to Save the World
Gardening is no longer just about aesthetics – in the face of species extinction, pollution, and climate change, gardening is now a moral act. As we destroy wild habitats we erode our future – suddenly, every backyard becomes a wildlife refuge for species that have been pushed to the margins of our lives. If we garden we inherently want to see nature in the form of butterflies and birds, but we can’t begin to really see them without a better understanding of local ecology through organic gardening with native plants. This means gardening with nature, not just near it, and rejecting centuries of western landscape design ideology and corporate maintenance dogma. If we don’t radically alter how we garden and the idea of what a garden is, and do it yesterday, we won’t have anyone left to tend our gardens. (Garden Rant guest post and Gardening with Natives as a Moral Act)
Sleep, Creep, Leap: The First Three Years of a Garden (self published)
A short collection of lyric, humorous, botanical, and narrative essays relating specific moments in my Nebraska garden over three years. As a new gardener, every small change and event is magnified, inspected, and celebrated, including: peeling off foot-length sheets of skin from a sunburn, geese migrating south at sunset, raising far too many monarchs, feeding a garden spider, and how one piece of mulch can make all the difference. (20,000 words -- table of contents)