Plants 365, week 23

Staying in the garden as much as possible… Week 23.

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, June 4th 2015 – HMB

Lucky had to be put to sleep today. What an impossible thing to do, to choose. We agreed months ago, when he was really going down hill, that when it got to the point of not eating, drinking, walking, that we wouldn’t put him through that. My dad says Sprout wanted to wait for him up in heaven so he wasn’t alone. Listening to a grown man cry and tell you that after two of your dogs have died within one week, is… heartbreaking.

We picked foxglove, clematis, roses, violas, strawberries and all of our and their favorite flowers and plants. I assembled them in a little altar in our bedroom with two candles and one of the dog toys they all love.

So far for me, the hardest part is to come downstairs in the morning and not see Sprout on the couch and not hear her giant tail thump when she saw me. Sometimes she would be too lazy to lift her head to say good morning, so I’d just see her tail thumping. I loved kissing the side of her face and burying my face in her neck, smelling the dusty dirty dog fur smell that was distinctly Sprout.


Friday, June 5th 2015 – HMB

I drove to my favorite client’s garden today to just look around. The front has a riot of flowers of love-in-a-mist, forget-me-nots, chocolate cosmos, and big sweeps of blooming ‘Munstead’ Lavender. I love that variety of Lavender the most for planting by pathways, since then your feet smell so good when you walk by. The Cerinthe has about another week or so before it needs to get pulled.mImwishnit responded better to dead-heading, but it really doesn’t.


Saturday, June 6th 2015 –  HMB, SF

Matt and I tried to distract ourselves from the pain and went to the SF Ferry Building Farmers Market.

It didn’t work.

I left with $46. worth of cookies and zero fruit or veggies.

Spending time in SF when you are missing your dog is the worst… dogs are everywhere! We joked it was like Valentine’s Day when you have just been dumped.


Sunday, June 7th 2015 – HMB

It’s the time of year where the front garden pathway is closed to humans and taken over by plants. The Agave attenuata has completely plopped over and is now resting on the first two wood stepping stones. The next three are covered by a rambling mix of Nasturtiums and Roses, and the final three are hidden by Borage. The last few years the Cerinthe have dominated the garden this time of year, but the Borage takes the win this Spring.

The little dogs, Patootie and Whiskey are sufficiently bummed out. We try to cry away from them, so as not to scare them. Although this morning was the first morning where they didn’t run from room to room looking for the other two dogs… So that’s something, I suppose.


Monday, June 8th 2015 – HMB

Going back to work and trying to pretend to be normal and not sad. Well, I’m not trying not to be sad, just trying to not freak people out by the depth of my sadness. I am looking forward to working in the garden(s) and even in my office. I just try not to glance over at the lounge chairs outside to look for Lucky and Sprout… Like we did/do a hundred times a day.

I do have an appreciation for feeling the feelings. Even though what I have been feeling (even prior to the dogs, but surely amplified by the recents events) has not been good, it has been felt. I haven’t tempered them in easy ways one can temper or alter feelings. Hopefully they can be tilled over into something good. Soon.

On the bright side, there are a ton of honey bees in my garden right now. A ton.


Tuesday, June 9th 2015 – HMB, Mountain View, San Mateo

My indoor plants are totally infested with mites!!

My white Clematis in the back yard is taking its sweet time to bloom. It’s all budded – just hasn’t bloomed open yet. This vine and my giant Philadelphus reminds me of the trip Matt and I took to northern Spain a couple years ago. It was the season when they were all in bloom over there… And I came home and planted them in my garden right away. I adore the fragrance and easy growing habit of Philadelphus – wished they flowered more during the year though. The Clematis can definitely take over, but it’s worth it and can handle being hacked back. The Philadelphus was planted as a 4″ and is now 6′ tall with a 8′ diameter. The Clematis sprawls from the chicken coop to the garden gate.


Wednesday, June 10th 2015 – HMB

I have a small Lavender ‘Jennifer’ (yup, google it) in a low Derome bowl by the corner of my back porch. As I walk by, like I do about thirty times a day, the leather on my boots swooshes by the out reaching stems and makes the sound like a stiff bristle brush. I get a small hint of Lavender scent and can’t help but wish for this Lavender to bloom everyday, instead of three or four times a year.

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