Plants 365, week 5

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, January 29th 2015 – HMB

I found the most lovely, antique botanical prints and lithographs! An English lady south of HMB has been in antiquarian sales for her whole life – and imports gorgeous prints form France and England. She graciously came to my house and displayed her collection in the garden, for me to shop.

I bought. And bought. And bought.

The simple detail in the Canterbury Bells, Salvias, Cactus and Gazania are breathtaking. Her husband is a professional framer for museums and such – so some of them are framed and matted. They are all so lovely – it’s exciting and sad to have them in the shop. If only I had a great big house with long hallways.


Friday, January 30th 2015 – HMB

I found a collection of terra cotta chimney liners on Craigslist! They are amaz! I bought about 25. Most will be for my personal collection (planted with cascading Succulents or Moss – then in the Summer a gaggle of flowers from Annie’s Annuals), and the rest will be sold at the shop. Find of the century! Craigslist can be so addicting (I’ve found employees, housing, great sexual partners, and a husband. Not necessarily all in the free section, but I’ve been happy.)


Saturday, January 31st 2015 – HMB

After working in the shop (which was really fun today), I came home and moved around my new chimney pieces. They are so dreamy, diary. Some have hand prints from the previous installer. They have a bit more soot on them the I was hoping, but I’m guessing I can scrub most of it away. Most sit flush on the concrete and the others that don’t sit well on their own, won’t be filled up with anything. I know in the Summer I won’t be able to help but plant a riot of 4″ annuals and perennials from Annie’s, but I think for now I want to plant them all with the same moss. At least until May.

I have Scleranthus biflorus ‘Austraian Astroturf’ growing in a terra cotta pot by my back door. It’s spongy and brilliant green and is fun to pat “hello” as we walk by. Matt and I wonder what will happen now that it’s growing right up against the sides of the pot – World domination?

The other cool thing about planting the Scleranthus in the chimney pots is it’ll grow fast and dense and relatively flat. I will have about 15 more places to hold my Champagne glass when I garden drunk.

Planning ahead.


Sunday, February 1st 2015 – HMB, San Juan Bautista

I’ve decided – Towns die when you cut down all the established trees.

All you are left with is fucking filler trees.


Fucking Maytens?!

Fuck Maytens.

And I don’t mean fuck them because they are such a suggestion of a tree, but because they have been so over and wrongly used. Also, why haven’t the suckers been breed out? If this tree is such the go-to urban street tree, why the fuck are there so many suckers that still grow from the base (and beyond)? Like, I enjoy the tree in the appropriate place (by a creek, by a pond, in groupings of others) but not planted next to rows of ornamental Plums.

Don’t even get me started on ornamental Plums.


Monday, February 2nd 2015 – HMB

What a butt load of work today! Landscaping, landscaping, hiring, shop strategist meeting, shipping, meetings.

All good things.

This Violets at the Dean’s are in full bloom – and the petals are dark purple, which is surprising with this warm weather. I thought they might get washed out from the sun. The Daphne smell amaz. The Camellias are full and droopy from heavy petals on fat buds.

We pulled out old shrubs that were being shaped into small balls (so that they didn’t block their incredible view of the ocean). I don’t get the concept of forcing a plant into a different shape, when really you should pull it out and plant what is the correct size for the space. We planted a long serpentine of Stilpa and Carex. When established, their wispy tips will move with the wind and barely touch the view of the ocean. I could sit in this garden all day.


Tuesday, February 3rd 2015 – HMB

Planted, trimmed, dug up, composted, watered.

The dogs are still digging up my bulbs for the blood-meal fertilizers. Bastards.

Sweeping under the giant Brugmansia shrubs by my office door is crunchy and fun. The spent flowers come off as tubes and catch easily under the broom’s bristles. The leaves drop off and some how turn dried and brown instantly – I tend to let most of them collect under the plant this time of year. Ones that have over stepping their bounds past the drip line get collected and piled in the green waste bin. I grew it from a 4″ plant about 3 years ago – now it’s 12′ tall and has a diameter of about 13′, pruned. Monster.

I went on a consultation where the owner wants to get rid of all of her terra cotta and will I be able to “haul it away”. Yes please! They are even neatly stacked in rows against her house… so exciting! My inner potager gardener comes out when I see stacks of old terra cotta. I just need stacks of old terra cotta!


Wednesday, February 4th 2015 – HMB

My whole team is back from being sick, from vacations, from other work – and I’ve hired a new person to make in the lab and sell in the shop. All will be full, buzzing, busy and very exciting. A slough of questions fly at me like honeybees throughout the day. I wave my hand in front of my face to try to steer some away while answering which ever ones smack me in the face.

“How far down should I prune the ‘Sally Holmes’ this year?”

“The tracking number is lost and they want to know when it’ll arrive.”

“The dogs ate that thing.”

“The dogs dug up that thing.”

“The dogs are laying on something.”

“Is she paid?”

“What account was she paid from.”

“Where is that tool I used that once time last month?”

“If this is planted now, will it grow in time for my kids party in 3 days?!”

“How much do you want this filled?”

“Sorry, I forgot, how much do you want this filled?’

“When do the Carex get delivered, she wants more.”

“Can you cover my shift, I’m sick.”

“Can I work extra this week?”

“Can I work less this week?”

“What should I do now, Jenn?”

“What should I do now, Jenn?”

“What should I do now, Jenn?”

“What should I do now, Jenn?”

“I know it’s your day off but…”



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