Plants 365, week 31+ 32

Woohoo, week 31 + 32! (I think that rhymes)

New to this page or missed some of Plants 365 and want to catch up? I recommend starting from the beginning with week 1.

Hi! I’m Jenn – botanist, CEO, potty mouth.

This is my “plant diary”, where every day for the entire year I will log my experience with plants. I’m not sure what that’s actually going to look like, but it doesn’t really matter – I just want to talk plants.

But first, here’s a little context about me: I fucking love Champagne. I don’t really like reading fiction but can digest it in the podcast form. I listen, read and observe a lot. I happily overeat carbs. I call myself a botanist because I have been a professional (as in, I pay my bills by) horticulturist for the past 15 years. The past 4+ years I have been researching plants with indigenous Mayan and Garifuna cultures in Belize – mostly focusing on organically farmed Cacao theobroma and jungle-grown Yam root. This means lots of time spent working on family farms, lots of jungle hikes, lots of eating weird things and even a bot fly in the arm (I dare you to google bot fly). Vanilla planifolia and Crocus sativus are my jam right now. My hands-on background is florals, farming, herbalism, horticulture and jungle growth. I’ve dabbled in greenhouse growing (3 years in community college, greenhouse management degree), grafting and stone work. I’d like to practice bonsai more. I’m terrible at grammar. I love holistic approaches, but loathe buzzwords and “internet experts”. I could spend less money on crystals. I should do more yoga. I am meditating more. I get angry at Terry Gross, but then fall back in love each week. Reality TV shows are a must. Woodford on the rocks with a twist and a cherry. Hip hop keeps me human. Kale is king.

Why write this? Because I want to remember and reflect on the time I spend with plants.

Ok. Here we go.

Thursday, July 30th 2015 – HMB

The Nasturtium, Borage and Subflowers are Ina place where they are so cramped together they need thinning. But 4-5″ of new growth is thought to just rip out – especially after you have babied plants along through a drought for 2+ years.

If it’s growing, I want to see it continue to grow.

Im finding myself having conversations with clients, where I’m talking them into keeping plants I would otherwise want to remove, for aesthetic’s sake.



Dusty Miller.

(Certain types of) Ceanothus.


Now I see them growing in a different light. They are at least – growing! If they are growing, leave them, you fool.

Friday, July 31st 2015 – HMB

I love over how people get irate when I tell them that the plant they have picked out probably wont grow well from them. And when I say, “I love”, I mean I loathe.

“Nope. Succulents actually don’t like growing indoors. They need pure sun, ample air movement/wind and to be around other similar plants. You cannot cram it into your non-draining orchid pot with that half dead Cymbidian.”


They look at me like I have three heads.


Saturday, August 1st  2015 – HMB, Sausalito 

Today, Matt and I met Seann at Dynamic Crystal Energy in Sausalito and shopped our brains out. I love, love, love this place. turned me onto them, and their fabulous gems have been a welcome staple in our shop since opening.

Good vibes, man.

Sunday, August 2nd 2015 – HMB

A nice day of light gardening and house work. We bought a gorgeous and giant Dahlia – in full bloom. The blossom is the size of my head!

Monday, August 3rd 2015 – HMB, Burlingame

I’m going soft in my old age.

The other day there was a busted, gnarled, half eaten piss-yellow Abutilon practically in the middle of my client’s pathway. How the fuck it’s been there for this long, is beyond me. We have tripped over this thing for months and months.

I have been professionally gardening for 15 years (my boobs don’t look a day over 20 – and I have references for that), and I’m finding more and more that I have a hard time ruthlessly pulling out plants.

I see you, mostly-dead Abutilon. I know how fragile your bitchy roots are and that there is no amount of cultivating, water or fertilizer that will help you. And normally I would rip you out of the ground unceremoniously with one hand while walking by on my way to rip something else out of the ground – yet now, now it’s harder.

Maybe I’m going soft.

Maybe I’ve finally gotten that ameba in my brain from Belize.

Or maybe I see that sprout, then 1 gallon, then 5 gallon – and know what it takes to keep fucking growing, inch by inch, year by year.

Arg. I want things to just grow. Design importance is meaning less and less these days.

Tuesday, August 4th 2015 – HMB, Los Altos

It has been another hot week in Half Moon Bay. I feel like I have spent the past 8 days just managing water. Gone are the days of watering whenever – and being pretty damn sure the plants will be just fine. 

Wednesday, August 5th 2015 – HMB, Monterey

I’ve escaped again to The Old Monterey Inn. This time, it’s a bit of a work trip…

I arrived in Monterey around noon, and after meeting with Lawerence, the owner, I dove into gardening. Weeks ago we set up a trade of 3 nights stay for planting some pots in their garden. The garden is in huge need of some real work, but I was happy to get mt foot in the door with some easy, potted plants. Upon a closer look, it wasn’t “some potted plants”, it was 151 potted plants.

I unloaded my truck, full of compost, soil and flats and flats of 4″. Lobelia, Verbena, Sunflowers, Nemesia, Violets, Lavender, Mint, Yarror, Heuchera, Dahlias and more.

I out on a podcast and got to work, from noon to 7:30pm.

I was tired. It’s been a while since I have done a gardening job alone.

After my dirty jeans, sweaty t-shirt and muddy moccasins were peeled off my body, I sank into a hot bath and poured cold water over my head. I sunk into the bath for the evening and read.

Around 8:30pm the clouds darkened and closed in and the thunder started, lasting until around midnight. I went to sleep with sore finger tips from digging.

Thursday, August 6th 2915 – HMB, Monterey, Carmel

Today was spent mostly feeding myself, plus getting drunk.

Wild mushroom bisque with black truffle and cream.

Lobster herbed ravioli.

Half bottle 2012 Domaine Du Vieux Lazaret.

Friday, August 7th 2015 – HMB, Monterey, Carmel

I spent time working with the regular gardeners of the property today at the inn. It’s always eye opening to see how other gardeners work. There is a disconnect between owner and maintenance gardener most of the time. I clearly see why. More to come on this in a future post…

Saturday, August 8th 2015 – HMB, Monterey, Santa Cruz

A slow putz home today… stopping in Moss Landing is always fantastic. It was overcast, slow and the simple colors of the tiny coastal town popped. I was a true tourist with my phone out taking picture after picture. The artichoke was the best…

Sunday, August 9th 2015 – HMB

I worked in the shop today… just until about 5pm since I was exhausted. Going from being a garden nymph to talking with every single customer who walked into the shop can be quite the pivot. Luckily, it’s all about the plants.

My Echinacea is gorgeous right now… I would like to plant a meadow of it. I wish it was a bit more nice to the touch though… so tough on the finger tips.

Monday, August 10th 2015 – HMB

Juan Carlos, Erica and I spent most of the day organizing my garden (mostly potted) – and we still have a ton more to do! I got energized by the glorious fog – and could barely stop working by 5:30pm.

We moved around terra cotta that had been moved around a hundred times before. Uncovering slugs, pockets of soil, spilled compost, flower heads and more. I scooped it all up and tossed it in a different spot of the garden – all the little bits of composting goodness to enrich another section of plants.

All the good stuff is under the pots.

I’m in a better mood this week. Maybe it was the wine…

Tuesday, August 11th 2015 – HMB

Ordered some Belizean Cinnamon today! Eeeeee! 

Wednesday, August 12th 2015 – HMB

In the shop, the herbs look perfect. Lemon Verbena. Mint (4 types). Sorrel. Oregano.

And of course, Lavender.

I would love to plant a field of Mint someday… very soon. 

Plants 365

← Older Post Newer Post →