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Hothouse is a podcast about design, ecology, and the way we garden now. Host Leah Churner sits down with experts and enthusiasts to talk about permaculture, the urban landscape, and how plants sometimes give us the feels. A meeting of the minds for plant people and the horticulture-curious, Hothouse is a different kind of gardening show: less of the how-to and more of the who, what, where, when, and why.

Jul 7, 2018

On this episode, we'll examine the relationship between natural history and social history. Join Leah as she sits down with park ranger LaJuan Tucker to talk about the conservation of urban wildlife, and how changing societal attitudes determine how we relate to our landscapes. LaJuan will explain how, in recent years, Austin's Parks and Recreation Department has implemented a new mandate to protect pollinator habitats, even when that means sacrificing the "manicured" look of the park in high-traffic areas. 

We'll also zoom out and talk more broadly about the philosophy of conservation today. How should our parklands be used, and who gets to decide? Should we strive to preserve "native" landscapes, or build more community gardens? And how do we reconcile the romance of the Texas landscape with the racist realities of our past? We'll talk about the lingering effects of Jim Crow in Austin, from actual monuments to the Confederacy, to present-day structural inequality. And we'll hear about LaJuan's personal mission to encourage more young Austinites of color to seek careers in environmental conservation and city planning. Here, and in upcoming episodes as well, we'll begin to engage with the paradox of Austin as an environmentally progressive, yet socioeconomically segregated, city. 

For a map of the many sites discussed in this episode, along with the full transcript, photos, and more, visit While you're there, sign up for the newsletter to get bonus Hothouse content! Email the show with plant questions and feedback at and follow us on Instagram @hothousepodcastThis interview was recorded in April 2018 at Permanent RCRD Studios in Austin, Texas. Hothouse is produced by Leah Churner and engineered by Mike Moody. Music by Moonsicles.