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, February 19th, 2015 – HMB, SF
Apparently people can leave off their old shit at my shop and we will turn in into something with Tillandisas or Succulents.
I don’t mean to sound annoyed – well, I guess I don’t care. Anyway it was old shit and now it’s cute. I love Tillandsias and Succulents, but I really need to step up the shop’s game. I can go down the trendy, traditional route – but not without some edginess in between the cracks. This is starting to get way too much like a Portlandia episode. (Put a bird on it!)
Friday, February 20th, 2015 – HMB
Well tended plants always look good.
I try to remind myself that really it doesn’t matter what is planted, since well tended plants always look good. If the Salvia Leucantha is dead-headed each month and given care and even the slightest bit of attention, it looks fabulous and clean and colorful. It mostly needs little care, but when you give it just a little attention it looks so nice.
Fluff the soil around your plants.
Dead-head with care religiously.
Water consistently and back off on fertilizing.
Slow down to notice the tiny amount of care the plant needs.
Saturday, February 21st, 2015
Succulent workshop at the shop today! It was so much fun to be outside in the chilly weather clipping succulents and sharing info with folks. I forgot how much I enjoy talking about plants. I need to remember to slow down and recite the specifics, since I think I tend to glaze over those concepts.
Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 – HMB
I’m excited to get away next week after my birthday and drive up to Oregon. I need the break. I need days where the phone doesn’t ring and beep and buzz – hijacking my work and personal time. I need an excuse to turn my phone off during the day… what a dream.
Matt and I plan on hitting up some farms in Salem, Eugene and anywhere else on the way up and down. There is an amazing donut place in a desolate part of Oregon that sells the most amazing blueberry fritters. We will drive there and load up – then drive away as fast as possible. I have to say, anytime I leave the Coastside, I come back loving it so much more.
Monday, February 23rd, 2015 – HMB
I did a consultation today for a job in town, where we need to design a rain harvesting and grey water system. I haven’t designed a system like this in years, to be honest. Rain water is easy, but I need to brush up on my past grey water designs – and also learn more about what has changed and is current. It’s kind of exciting to be doing this, but also sad.
We need rain.
This reminds me of when I was in high school and just learning how to farm. I was dating Richard Holtz – a local from an Italian farming family on the coast. I was 15 years old and spent all of my time with him, learning about dirt. We’d drive to the Valley and buy pumpkin seed or visit a tractor shop. We’d comb the Truck Trader looking for weird old parts for equipment I didn’t have a clue on how to use. We’d flip through Johnny’s Select Seed catalog over dinner and plan what types of squash to dry farm the coming year. Joanne (Richard’s mom) had a cozy little kitchen that always smelled of something fried and yummy. Rabbit, chicken, fried artichokes, risotto, garlic bread and salad with a spicy dressing she made herself. The table was filled with heaps of warm food, seed packets and notebooks for planning the crop successions.
I remember my first prom with Richard – I wore the most gorgeous green velvet super long dress with a cream lace slit. It was very Vaudevillian – long before I knew what that term meant. This was on the heels of Courtney Love’s latest album with Hole – so gluing rhinestones into my hair was a must. Quite frankly, it’s the best I have ever looked. I fucking killed it. (Recently, this hair style, sans rhinestones, is now considered “Beach Waves” and you can pay a ton of money to have a hair stylist make you look like you just got out of bed. I will always refer to the look as my Courtney Love hair… and I didn’t have to pay for shit.)
Anyway, that prom was then we had another super dry period in CA, so most of what we were thinking about (other then grinding hard core on the dance floor) was when the rain would come. I fondly look back at that time in my life when I had a complete understanding of what I wanted to do with my life. I loved plants. I loved the coast. And it was a challenge to work with the ever changing elements. The drought evokes a bit of nostalgia for me, and makes me a smarter gardener.
Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 – HMB
Today we worked at a job pruning down some Phormium grasses. I have spent a full year emotionally prepping my clients for this very occasion. I’ve met them in person, showing them where we need to cut the grasses, so they rejuvenate better. I have emailed, explaining that the grasses will be much, much smaller and they will think it looks terrible at first – but to remember that it’s what the garden needs. I have sent a follow up email confirming the date we will come and – again – that shit it going to be cut back.
It looks perfectly shocking, but very well done. We cultivated the soil around the grasses, and added compost. We cleaned all the little dead bits and even relocate some tree frogs to a better part of the garden.
“Well, that was drastic. Was it really necessary?” the husband says.
“Re-read your emails.” the Jenn says.
The wife happily writes me a check and we plan my next visit.
Shit’s gotta get cut down sometimes. It’s not very fun, but helps ensure new growth, thriving plants and a healthy garden. #duh
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 – HMB
All kinds of botanical awesomeness today!
Lavender powder. Vanilla bean paste. Cacao nibs and hulls. Wild Yam Root tea.
I am teaming up with a local restaurant to offer my botanicals for their cocktails, teas and desserts. This is going to be so fun.