Plants 365, week 12

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, March 19th 2015 – HMB

It’s the last day of Winter.

My trip to Carmel really gave me a touch of rest, quiet and a Winter-y feeling, minus the nice cold weather and rain. I could have had more, but it was nice to ground into the last little bit of the season.

The funny thing is that even though Spring is almost here, the fog is rolling in…


Friday, March 20th 2015 – HMB

It’s Spring!

And it’s foggy!

It feels so good to feel and see the fog this week. I love seeing the fog give my garden a little hug – then I run to the hose to water as efficiently as possible.


Saturday, March 21st 2015 – HMB

I’ve been adding as many flower farmers and arrangers to my Instagram as possible. I have deleted anyone who showed fugly pictures in my feed, and any news, and now I have mostly flower pictures. Even the non-GMO organizations I donate to – I just can’t see negative shit in my feed while I’m peeing first thing in the morning. It’s really changed my quality of life, as stupid as that sounds. I hate the word “florist” or “flower designer” or “arranger”. (JULIE, what do you call yourself? I’m sure you have found a fabulous title… What is it?)

Now I see a ton of floppy, wild, expensive flowers in smudged, dented silver urns in front of a charcoal backdrop. It’s fucking fabulous.

It reminds me of when Julie was doing my wedding flowers back in October… My request was, “When people see these flowers at the wedding, I want them to feel poor.” She knows me.


Sunday, March 22nd 2015 – HMB

Two teenagers in black hoodies riding one bike going down HWY 1, each holding a little 2″ plant. Giggling.

Not weed, I checked. Maybe a couple of little scented Geraniums.


They were giddy!


Monday, March 23rd 2015 – HMB

Digging under redwood trees… deep shade.


Tuesday, March 24th 2015 – HMB

Today I was reminded of how much I love to talk plants. Namely, medicinal and culinary herbs – the ones I research in Belize. The local restaurant It’s Italia and I are doing a huge collaboration on hot teas, desserts and cocktails. I sat down with the owner, managers, bartender and some waitstaff to discuss the details of Vanilla, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Anise, Lavender powder, Neem, Peppermint, Dandelion and a bunch more. We sat at the empty bar around 2pm and took shots of hot teas. I displayed the raw Cacao powder, nibs and beans, colorfully sprawled out next to Hibiscus petals, Rose and Lemongrass. They each took turns cautiously trying the raw herbs and powders. The Cacao is very bitter as first, but then you quickly start craving it… Similar to a good black or English tea. It’s fun to see people be really nervous about trying a raw plant, then quickly start to get really comfortable with it and picking more and more bits for chewing and trying and talking about. Then offering others. (Reminds me of when I first brought home raw Cacao I made myself from Belize. I forced Derek P. to try an elixir of hot water and Cacao… He was timid but loved it. Or at least fained loving it. Either way it was a nice gesture.)

One of the kitchen worker’s young daughters (maybe 5 and 8 years old) always visit the restaurant at 4pm, and today they instantly were attracted to our clear glasses (liquor glasses but for our purposes, hot tea glasses) of Rose and Hibiscus tea. They sat happily eating a giant cheese pizza and drinking steaming tea with petals floating around – their legs dangled back and forth on the chairs. Hot cheese dripping from the pizza. It was the cutest sight I’ve even seen. My ovaries were doing cartwheels.

We talked about the values of Cacao and Vanilla and I showed corresponding pictures of my trips to Belize. Rarely has someone seen what a developing Vanilla bean still attached to the flower looks like. And for some reason seeing a sweaty, deliriously happy version of me is very entertaining to people. Sweat sells.

I need to come up with 5 botanical cocktails, 5 hot tea blends and a few desserts. This will be a perfect relationship, as everyone here is seemingly craving some authentic, real, indulgent ingredients. And I gots ’em.

I’m excited.


Wednesday, March 25th 2015 – HMB

Tweezing your eyebrows is exactly like practicing bonsai.

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