In Love with Landscape, Art, Food, Gardens — and Writing



Paula Panich is a Los Angeles-based food, garden, and landscape writer who has contributed to the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Gastronomica and other publications. She is author of Cultivating Words: The Guide to Writing about the Plants and Gardens You Love, and other books. Her latest, The Cook, the Landlord, the Countess and Her Lover, is a collection of memoir-ish culinary essays. Oh, and a novel set in 1932 Hollywood too. Her literary work has been published in the Harvard Review and the North American Review.

She loves to teach writing, and especially loves to hear the voices of people as they awaken to their love for and deep connection to place. These voices can only help our world — and ourselves — to survive.

Both consciously and subconsciously, my writing has been deeply informed by the land with a sense of place. In some important way, place determines who and what we are. This land-person equation is essential to writing, to all of literature.

~ N. Scott Momaday

Whether or not you succeed is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.

~ Georgia O’Keeffe

Mountain Stories is a series about the San Jacintos, above Palm Springs; you might have heard about them in 2013, when the Mountain Fire burned 27, 500 acres, and would likely have consumed our little town, Idyllwild, population 3,000, had not a good rain intervened.

Here is a shortcut to the series.

Paula Panich has been teaching since she was twenty-one; until she was thirty, she taught in the alchemical crucible of Bayside Middle School in San Mateo, California. There hasn’t been a teaching day since when she doesn’t think of what those seventh-grade students taught her.

She has taught everything from the history of Ancient Egypt to Hatha yoga and once, in a summer program, crocheting. She been teaching writing and literature to adults since 1999 at institutions from the New York Botanical Garden to the Getty Center, and from Boston University to the UCLA Extension Landscape Architecture Program.



2014 Workshops Still to Come


Shedding Light on Your Photography:
A Writing/Communication Workshop for Photographers


Sunday, September 14, 10 am — 1 pm
$100 members / $125 non-members (includes Arboretum admission)
Please call the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden Class Registration Line at 626.821.4623.

Photographers: You are called upon to make more than images! No matter the focus of your work, be it landscape, plants, gardens, architecture, food, or even portraits, streetscapes, industrial environments, or situations of social/political import, you are called upon to explain your work for grants, exhibitions, websites, blogs, catalogues, captions, articles, press releases, and essays.

How do you uncover the essential ideas of your general work or a specific project? Describe its content? And then translate these into coherent and precise language? How you present yourself and your work in language is critical to your success.

This will be an introductory but hands-on workshop. We will discuss the precision required to write a caption, an extended caption, a biography, and a press release; we will define the forms of and differences among the other genres of writing you may require, and where you might go for help. The ethics and protocols of photojournalism will also be briefly discussed, along with suggestions about grant writing and other submissions. Please bring a notebook and pen.

Paula Panich is a writer, visual artist, and teacher. She has worked as a freelance journalist and essayist (the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and other publications). She has also been a writer and editor for photographer-clients whose practices include photojournalism, multi-media production, documentary photography, and fine art photography.

Pre-registration preferred! 301 N. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, CA 91007,;



Seeing is the Seed: A Writing Workshop at the  Los Angeles County Arboretum

Fall 2014 registration now open:

Four Sundays

September 28, October 26, November 23, December 7

10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Oak Room, Los Angeles County Arboretum

For details on price, registration, and individual workshop topics, please see the flyer: Seeing is the Seed Sept to Dec 2014

Seeing is the Seed: So What Does That Mean?

Here’s where we will raise questions about writing that won’t have easy answers or perhaps any answers at all. Art is the expression of how life comes at you, or to you, or from you. “Art is a way of defending yourself,” said a Swedish film director, “not to let life go by without comment.”

No one sees the world the way you do. So we will talk about staying true to yourself and being aware as possible to your environment and place in the world.

There are many lenses for a writer to choose from when telling a story. We will talk about point of view (POV), as well as determining (and eliminating) the distance between the subject and object, and between the reader and the writer. It doesn’t matter if you have been to previous meetings of this workshop, please join us. (We actually have fun too.)


(Photo at top of page:  Kachemak Bay, Alaska: Ilana Panich-Linsman,