Plants 365, week 11

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 12th 2015 – HMB

The variegated Hops in my garden is so gorgeous right now. It started growing rapidly about a month ago. I was still very much in Winter mode, so I barely took much notice. But today as I walked in the back to let the chickens out of their coop, I couldn’t help but get excited about how fast and full it is.

Why have I never planted this before?


Friday, March 13th 2015 – HMB



Saturday, March 14th 2015 – HMB

Spent time in the shop today.

It’s funny, when you are around something so much, you get almost immune to it. I’m around and I use my products every day, but sometimes forget how special they are. A customer was asking about the Balsam + Lavender + Lotus Bath Tea we sell. I picked up a fresh bottle from the gold shelf and told her about the traditional medicinal qualities of Lavender and Balsam and Lotus. I showed her the tiny threads of Lotus stamen that we fold into each batch. I explained how when we make big quantities of the bath tea, the entire lab smells of dusty Lavender and crisp Balsam.She ohh-ed and ahh-ed and told me she was going to make time to take a nice, long bath tonight. I said I was going to, too.

I really do have fabulous botanical products, if I do say so myself! 

Ahh, plants.


Sunday, March 15th 2015 – HMB

I spent the morning in the shop and the afternoon in the garden. That’s a pretty perfect combination – especially since I took a champagne break in between!

In the garden I spent time planting some new little babies… I’m so full and need more space! I fertilized with an all-purpose liquid organic and cultivated the few open spots in the front.

The BB Roses are absolutely perfect right now. I talk to them and reassure the girls they look healthy and beautiful and smart – I don’t want them relying on their looks too much. They have a lot to offer…


Monday, March 16th 2015 – HMB

Today I had Amy (new worker bee) harvest some leafs off of the BB. She plucked about 1/3 of the upper new growth of each stem. They look gorgeous all spread out on the Kraft paper to dry. In another couple weeks I’ll pull off the leaflets and compost the spine. Then I’ll use a mortar and pestle and grind it down to a powdery fine texture to be mixed into the Rose Leaf Bath Tea.


Tuesday, March 17th 2015 – HMB

Editing in the Dean’s garden today. So dreamy.

This garden has grown to a stage where we now need to edit. There are a few places here and there where new plants could be plopped in – but mostly it’s pulling out what is growing too close to its neighbor and relocating. For instance, the three Carex grasses that looked like a perfect triangle near a corner along the pathway, are now way too close together. As 4″ plants, spacing them about 14″ apart looked nice. Now as full grown mature grasses, it looks like my tangled mess of hair that I wake up with each morning.

Separation, please!

And then there’s the Echeverias. All. Over.

These needed thinning and dividing. Towards the end of the day we had enough to put back in the original spots, add to about 6 other spots in the front and back garden – and more! The extra came home with me and were potted up in 1 gallons. What do they call that? Vertical integration? I don’t know… But it’s smart and gives me plants so I’m happy.


Wednesday, March 18th 2015 – HMB, San Mateo

Today Matt and I escaped to the SF Flower & Garden Show. I’ll admit, I haven’t been motivated to go the past couple years, but it was very much worth the trip today. The display gardens are always adequately lovely (minus the dying plants that have been forced to display in a hot and humid building for 5+ days) and provide fodder for my imagination.

My favorite room is the Bonsai room. It’s quiet and cool and zenful. (Is zenful a word?)

We stood quietly and gazed at the meticulously groomed and well tended trees, all in beautifully graceful shapes. It’s hard not to find reverence among these wise old grandpa trees. White Pines, Wisteria, Juniper, Boxwood, even an Azalea.

I took home 4.

More to come.

Very happy. 

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