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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview, Style Tips

Lauren Miranda, Studio Manager at Jesse Kamm

January 2, 2018

We are so happy to introduce you to Lauren Miranda from our tastemaker seriesWe first stumbled upon Lauren from an apartment tour Youtube video her friend, Christine, shot. We immediately fell in love with her plant collection (not to mention her studio is a dream, too).  Let’s meet Lauren in her own words.

Meet Lauren

Name: Lauren Miranda

Location: Highland Park, Los Angeles, CA

Occupation: Studio Manager

Favorite Plant: Monstera Deliciosa

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself? I was born and raised in Southern California, and have lived here in Highland Park, Los Angeles for about 4 years now, with a year in Washington woven in there. That year was very important as it’s where I had the opportunity to work at a plant nursery on the island I lived on. Working with plants is really wonderful, and stressful at the same time. There are precious lives at stake! It was a magical time, I miss it very much. Right now I work nearby as a Studio Manager for a design company called Jesse Kamm, helping out with some production in between. Outside of work, I tend to wander the neighborhood picking fruit while getting lost in my thoughts, thinking about some new recipe to try, attempting to control the urge to want to learn some new skill. I have too much straw in my home. I like to touch plants as I pass by them on my walks. I am most moved by sound and spaces. I laugh often and loud.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed?  You’ll find a lot of the same here: Plants and my studio and now cooking. I enjoy sharing bits of all these – because why not? We create these spaces that are our havens, and it’s a way to look back and see what’s changed, a place to store memories since I don’t scrapbook. Plus I’ve met some really wonderful people through it, most recently in Mexico City.  I don’t have a business, but when I was selling homewares for a brief time it helped with that. So it’s just for personal use mainly. I try (try) not to take it too seriously–I like to think this shows anytime I reference Linkin Park lyrics or make a terrible pun.

What’s a secret skill you have? I am a very vivid dreamer and can remember them the next morning with incredible detail. And singing. I have a pretty decent voice, I like to think it keeps the plants happy, too. In Spanish is the most fun, but my true love is show tunes. In another life, I would be on Broadway.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?  Oh gosh, that’s difficult. I can’t think of one main thing. But I value most anything made by the hands of my friends and loved ones. A warm meal, a bag, a piece of art for my studio. I am very sentimental when it comes to these things.

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?  Yikes, probably my Passport! Being as it took aeons to finally attain one I am not losing that guy.

What’s on your to-do list today?  I’m preparing to bake some conchas for my family tomorrow, clearing the Studio of a few items I don’t use, and if there’s time after, a good jog.

What is your favorite plant and why?  This is hard, I have a few. My number one is Monstera Deliciosa. How can you not marvel at those massive leaves? I don’t have one currently, but it was my first baby. Years ago I bought a sad one on clearance with the intent to love and revive it, and it traveled with me to 3 different homes down here, and then up to Washington. By then it grew huge and so handsome. Sadly I wasn’t able to bring him back down, but he was happily adopted by a close friend. My other favorite is Rhipsalis-they’re kind of extraterrestrial looking. I’m crazy for their hair-like growth habit. I’d like to eventually fill the Studio with them. Oh and lastly Kerria Pleniflora Japonica. They grow on Vashon Island, where I lived in Washington. It’s a shrub whose cascading branches bear these beautifully rich, turmeric hued flowers that look like wild pom-poms.

Would you say you have a “green thumb”?  I like to think I do. I’m not at all an expert, only just scratched the surface of plant knowledge. I do my best to read up on plants before I take the plunge, to make sure it’ll work in my space. I’m constantly reaching for my plant books for guidance, both in care and in home decor.

Any plant care tips you can share?  Do your research on a plant before you buy. Take note of the lighting/exposure your space gets to help with this, too. If you bring home a Maidenhair Fern for your South facing window that gets direct sun 8 hours of the day, you’re asking for heartache. So don’t be afraid to ask questions. All of the questions if you have to. I also view plants to be very much like people, in that you have relationships with each of them. It’s not always about making a set schedule on watering and such. You grow with one another, observe how they are behaving, where they like to be which ones want your attention every day and which ones just want to be left alone for weeks at a time. It’s a gradual process. Another thing I’m big on is touching and loving on your plants. Literally, tell them you love them. I get really amped whenever I see a new sprout, and make it a point to show it. And don’t take on more than you can handle-nothing wrong with only owning one plant that reigns supreme in your house. Lastly, as my former plant mentor would tell me, “It’s better to underwater than overwater”. Always stuck with me.

What tops your houseplant wish list?  I am still on the lookout for a towering Ponytail Palm. I find them to be very whimsical and my idea of a real-life Truffula Tree from The Lorax.

Where do you shop for plants?  There are a couple of small nurseries in my neighborhood that I frequent, but my favorite is down in Orange, one of the best around there. It acted as a sort of catalyst for my infatuation with plants. I’ve also been known to pup a cactus from the side of the road.

Favorite hobby: Cooking and Baking, a little bit of sewing, just keeping my hands busy in some way. The latest endeavor has been making sourdough bread. I’m hooked. Doing my best to read more as well.

Favorite television show: Seinfeld. Makes me fall over. And anything food related, like Chef’s Table and The Great British Bake Off. #MaryBerryImYourBiggestFan

Favorite food: Pozole, forever. Very nostalgic for my childhood. I plan to attempt my Nana’s recipe when the weather cools–who knows when that will be down here though…

Favorite weekend activity: Spending time with my family, we’re all very close. I am one of 6 so it’s like having my own posse.

Favorite home decor store: Well, considering my house is mainly furnished via thrift, I’d say The Salvation Army. There’s always something. My other favorite is Lowell Shop in Portland. It’s an incredible store with an array of objects and adornments, and Dino and Maya are two of the nicest humans you’ll come across. Here in LA, County Ltd is where it’s at–they source some of the most beautiful pieces of furniture you can’t find anywhere else. It’s almost frustrating how amazing the selection is there. General Store in Venice is my other go to because they have so many wonderfully made products, many made by their own employees. It’s a beautiful space to be in.

Thank you so much, Lauren! 

P.S: Check out Lauren’s Instagram Story where she makes baking and cooking look so easy and chic at the same time.

P.P.S: Read more from our Tastemaker series including painter, Laura Serventi, who draws inspiration from plants and nature, and @warsawjungle, the couple duo whose home vibe and warm personalities will put a smile on your face immediately. 

(All photos by Sergio Neocoechea)

 

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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Laura Serventi, Painter and illustrator, @art_n_people

December 20, 2017

For our latest installment of our tastemaker series, we want to introduce you to Laura Serventi. We first encountered Laura’s work on Instagram and we were blown away. Laura’s amazing use of vibrant colors and plant-inspired intricate artwork captured our hearts immediately – and we wanted to know more. Let’s meet Laura! 

Name(s): LAURA

Location: Brooklyn

Occupation:  painter/illustrator

Favorite Plant: Cathalea Dottie

Can you share a little bit of background about yourselves?

I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My grandfather, who was a painter himself, was an important influence on me. He transmitted me his love for art and it grew deeply inside of me.

I attended the School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, where I studied Painting, and then moved to Italy to study Photography. While I was there, my art projects were mainly photographic,  and I stopped painting all together. I thought it was not for me anymore, and  decided to concentrate on photography.  But after a while, paint started leaking back into my projects : from a few painted details in a photographic collage project , to a series of  b&w photographs colored by hand,  to painting mural size landscapes just to use as photographic backdrops.

I had moved to N.Y. by then. Looking back ,I think those big landscapes defined my return to painting and triggered my plant obsession. I started painting again after that.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed- @art_n_people?

I use @  art_n_people to share pictures of my new work, the painting process, my house/studio and my plants. It’s a little window to my world.

You draw many inspiration from nature a lot, why is that?

Nature is present throughout all of my work, and its presence and meaning has changed through time. For me it’s a place of discovery, adventure and wonder. Both my Tropical and Garden series are linked to childhood experiences, and so they could be related to the concept of Lost Paradise. A safe place to retrieve when the chaos of this world swallows you.

Can you explain a little bit more of your painting/art process?

I paint with gouache and acrylics on paper. I use a lot of archive photographs from my trips to botanical gardens and keep a big number of plant books and encyclopedias to feed my imagination.

What advice would you give people who wants to be a professional illustrator/painter?

Create a routine, be consistent, don’t paint or draw only when you feel “inspired”. Create short term goals and try to stick to them. Look at other artist’s work. Choose a theme you ‘re interested in and develop a series. Be persistent.

What is your favorite plant and why?

It’s really hard to choose one… and it changes all the time, but right now I’m in love with the calathea plant in all its variations, which are many, I love the colors, the green and the purples and the deep pink stripes, just ovely… and  they’re great to paint!

Do you have a “green thumb”?

I’m afraid I don’t! I have many, many plants at home and I absolutely adore them, but they are alive  and growing beautifully thanks to my husband. He takes great care of them and leaves very precise watering instructions whenever he’s away…

Any plant care tips you can share?

don’t overwater…that’s all I know…!

What tops your houseplant wish list?

Calathea, Maranta ( the prayer plant), Jade plant, and Capitata Peach

Favorite hobby:  dance

Favorite television show:  stranger things

Favorite food:  any kind of pasta

Favorite weekend activity:  long lazy breakfast, spending time with my little son, going on day  trips, spending  time  outdoor,  painting.

Favorite home decor store:   I don’t have a store I usually go, I prefer thrift shops and flea markets.

What’s a secret skill you have?  

I can dance flamenco 😉

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?

My husband is the best at surprising me every birthday with beautiful and alternative Art books. I  definitely need more shelves…

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?

I guess you’re talking about material stuff…so, my paintings and my hardrives, oh and my greencard!

What’s on your to-do list today?

I’ll be participating of the Renegade Craft Fair in a few days so most of my list today is related to that: I print all my illustrations myself,  so…. PRINT, PRINT, PRINT. Other than that, I will finish hand painted totes, ship orders, check paper and ink supply, follow up on Emails and buy groceries and bread.

What’s next for @art_n_people? 

More paintings and  some  collaborations  with  fashion  brands.

Thank you so much, Laura!

Follow Laura’s Instagram page here – and shop her amazing works here

P.S Find more of our tastemaker series! Including a plant artist, @teenytinyterra, who can build a terrarium in 24 seconds, and a time-lapse master, @houseplantjournal, who captures plants’ nastic movements in 24 hours. 

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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Interview, Plant History, Style Tips

Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Garden

December 8, 2017

Last Tuesday we had the honor to attend The New York Botanical Garden’s press preview for their annual Holiday Train Show. It was the perfect activity to do when the freezing temperatures are about to set in, and we’re all struggling to accept the long winter ahead of us.

The Holiday Train Show is an annual winter tradition at the NYBG. As soon as we walked in to the exhibit, we were dazzled by the liveness and intricateness of each famous New York landmark. We later learned that they are all made of natural materials such as bark, twigs, stems, fruit, seeds, and pine cones!

And this year, the 26th year of this beloved tradition, new replicas – Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building, and St. Bartholomew’s Church – joined the original 150 in NYBG’s collection. Being a New Yorker, there was nothing more excited than seeing all the famous landmarks and buildings in miniature sizes.

Insider Tip: You will hear different sound effects when you get closer to the miniatured landmarks. Try it!

Other visitor favorites include the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, and the original Yankee Stadium, all surrounded by large-scale model trains. More than 25 model trains and trolleys hummed along nearly a half mile of tracks! In addition, the new internal lighting schemes added more allure and wonder to the show.

After checking out the Holiday Train Show in its entirety, we wondered off to the Rainforest and Succulent showrooms. The incredible diversity of plants gives you a better understanding of how Mother Nature works.

Insider Tip: You will spot many common houseplants in their native habitats! Here at The Sill, we always say- you will make your plant happiest if you can mimic its native environment.

Here’s a short video for you to preview the show!

 

The Holiday Train Show is now open to the public and runs through Monday, January 15, 2018. For visitor information, visit their website here.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss it!

 

P.S Check out our Orchid show recap from last year here

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview, Plants on TV

Liz Kirby, Host and Author, The Indoor Garden

November 8, 2017

For our latest tastemaker series, we are so honor to introduce you to Liz Kirby. We were first introduced to her by a fellow workshop attendant, we were soon hooked on Liz’s genuine personality and informative plant care tips on her Youtube channels. Liz was in the plant world before the #urbanjubgle was even a thing. She is the plant lady you definitely don’t want to miss out! 

Meet Liz

 Name:  Liz Kirby

Location:  Arlington, VA

Occupation:  Realtor, Host of “The Indoor Garden” TV series and Author of the corresponding blog

Favorite Plant:  I have such a great appreciation, in general, for all plants that I just can’t say that I have a favorite. I have favored Aralias and orchids for my home.                                         

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?   Like many eighteen-year-olds,   I did not know what I would want to study in college. Fortunately, after I graduated from high school, a friend of mine who sold wholesale plants from Florida had the thought that I might enjoy a job in a plant store and he found one for me.  So I did that instead of getting a college degree. I truly enjoyed working there with great people who taught me a lot about indoor plants. I ended up working in the horticulture and floriculture field for twenty-five years.

For those who haven’t watched The Indoor Garden on YouTube, can you share a little bit about the series?  The idea was conceived around 1988. For a long time, I felt that the general public did not get very good specific instructions on growing houseplants. There were some books but  sometimes they just got vague or even wrong instructions. Lots of good experience and a few good  books were my best teacher.  I met many customers who truly believed they could not grow plants and I was sure they could. I thought doing a television series on the care and appreciation of indoor plants would be a great way to share what I had learned. It aired for three years on a local PBS station. When YouTube came along I saw the opportunity to share plant care all over again. The show was videotaped but translates pretty well to a digital format.

What’s a secret skill you have?   I don’t think I have any that I would keep a secret. One skill I have and wish I used more, is that I can very easily come up with a harmony to many songs. It’s one skill I couldn’t teach, it just comes naturally.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?   Friendship

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?   The living things

What’s on your to-do list today?   Some housekeeping, getting the hummingbird feeder out, finding a rental apartment for a lovely woman from New Jersey and to catch up on correspondence

What is your favorite plant and why?  It’s difficult to pinpoint one but since I began learning about them, I’ve thought that ferns were amazing. They make you think. As best we know, they have lived on the earth longer than just about any other group of plants. You can find them all over the world. They appear somewhat delicate and fragile, but are they?

Do you have a “green thumb”?  I do now. I had to cultivate it, so that enabled me to encourage others that they could too. I heard many times from others that they did not have a ‘green thumb” and I just don’t accept that. I truly believe anyone who wants to, can develop that skill.

Any plant care tips you can share?  Watering plants once a week is not a good rule of thumb. It’s usually best to start out with hardier varieties if you are just beginning to learn how to grow plants. Get good instructions and look for an expert if your plant is not doing well. Most plants will recover and thrive with the right instructions.  

What tops your houseplant wish list?  If I had the space, I would love a cymbidium orchid.

How did The Indoor Garden television series start?   I befriended a television producer who had a local TV series airing in the area. I had the thought that a television series could be a great way to teach what I had learned about indoor plants, so I started looking into how to make that possible.

Do you have a favorite episode or show memory?  I especially enjoyed having guests on the show. It was quite easy to work with them.

Do you think there’s been a resurgence interest of houseplants recently?  It seems to be going that way. There are many different types of retail outlets and online places that have been selling plants for a long time. I do believe they’d stop if interest was low.

Any words of advice for plant novices?   Don’t give up if you aren’t very successful at first. There are many easy-to-grow plants and you may want to buy your first plants at a plant store, garden center or nursery where someone should be informed enough to help you choose a plant that suits you. For example, a busy person may want a large plant that doesn’t need water often. Make sure your plants are placed in the best light situation for your particular plant. Find out how to water them properly.  Those two aspects of care, light and correct watering, are most important to success.

Thank you so much, Liz!

PS: Check out more of our tastemakers series here 

 

 

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki, @warsawjungle

October 25, 2017

Our newest installment in our Tastemaker series features Poland-based artists and plant lovers – Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki! We came across their Instagram and wanted to know more about their inspiration for incorporating plants into their living space. Check out our Q&A with Beata and Remek below! 

Name(s): Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki

Location: Warsaw, Poland

Occupation: Beata is a visual artist, Remek occupies himself with sounds

Favorite Plant: Beata: rose geranium, Remek: mirabelle plum tree

Can you share a little bit of background about yourselves? 

Beata: I work with visual arts such as photography and video. I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Recently in my artistic work I focus on exploring the history of the war that happened in the 90s in the Balkans, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I work in music marketing company.

Remek: I deal with sound, record it, create it, destroy it, transform it. I produce music, record artists, do sound design, mix songs, write songs, score animations, play instruments. Whatever’s needed.

Together we made an exhibition of photography, video and sound (entitled „Nienaturalnie“). We created „Warsaw Sound Postcards“ – a series of ten playable vinyls with field recordings and photos of the places where the sound was recorded. We also made a short film about greenery in Warsaw for Goethe-Institut.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed – @warsawjungle

Warsaw Jungle is a platform of exchanging inspirations which unites enthusiasts of plants, photography and interior design. Most often we upload photographs made in our little one-room apartment, which is quite a challenge for creativity – it’s not easy to make a new picture in the same 24 square metres. We also present photos made in homes of our families, friends, as well as pictures sent to us by Warsaw dwellers. We want to show through our blog that living in city doesn’t mean losing contact with nature.

What’s a secret skill you have? 

Beata: I‘m never fed up with vacuum cleaning.

Remek: My secret skill is keeping secrets.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received? 

Beata: It was my dachshund, Maja. I received her when I was 9 years old, we spent together almost 15 years.

Remek: I’m not really a presents person, I’m happy being absent 😉

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save? 

Beata: I hope it won’t! But if, I’d grab albums with photographs and portable disks (with photographs too). Without photographs, my memory would be lost. If I had more time, I would take plants. Photography and plants are my two loves.

Remek: Can’t decide. It’s everything or nothing, either you have the whole space, or you don’t. It’s the presence that makes the space important. Would be nice to catch a plant or two though, after all they are living organisms.

What’s on your to-do list today? 

Beata: Working, learning Croatian, cooking, preparing photographs and texts for upcoming exhibitions and hyggelig. And of course – vacuuming!

Remek: Buying fruit and vegetables for half of the week, working on songs of some artists, organizing a rehearsal, preparing a sound installation for an upcoming exhibition.

What is your favorite plant and why? 

Beata: I love a lemon scented geranium because of nice smell and good properties it has. I love to take a bath with a geranium oil.

Remek: I prefer the big wild ones, which are defined as trees. Preferably the ones with leaves rather than needles. Oaks are nice. They don’t care, and they won’t be bothered. I like their calmness. Of course the tropical ones are cool because some of them give nice fruit, or have spikes.

Do you have a “green thumb”? 

Beata: In our one-room city-center apartment we really have a tiny jungle. Not all plants accommodated well to that conditions, I had to send some of them to my mum, but overall yes, I do have a green thumb.

Remek: I’m sure I do, I just always forget to use it.

Any plant care tips you can share? 

Beata: First thing – don’t overwater the plants, second – talk to them and tell them compliments when they grow. And take photos of them, plants are living creatures, they grow, develop, you can compare how they do.

Remek: Don’t forget about taking care of the plants if you have any, that’s my tip for beginners.

 

What tops your houseplant wish list? 

Beata: The list is long, and the space in the apartment limited. But in a bigger space, my first choice would be cooking banana. Then I would bake a banana cake!

Remek: A cooking banana would be nice. One step closer to the garden of Eden…

Where do you shop for plants? 

Beata: The nicest way to get something new is to exchange the seedings with friends and family. Also sometimes I’d steal leaves that I’d later plant from for example stairways, or offices. A good place to go and buy plants are the wholesale stores at the outskirts of Warsaw.

Remek: I swear I had no idea that Beata steals plants. I have nothing to do with this!

Favorite hobby

Beata: I had problems with defining what my hobby is (which are visual arts, but this is also my occupation) until I’ve grown serious interest in plants, which are my real hobby.

Remek: If hobby is something that one does in one’s free time than my hobby is doing nothing, but I don’t have time for that.

Favorite food

Beata: Potatoes. Really! And my mum’s cake called karpatka (Polish Carpathian Mountain cream cake).

Remek: Peanut butter. Peanuts. Nuts.

Favorite weekend activity

Beata: Outdoor activities such as nordic walking, swimming in lakes, riding a bike.

Remek: Going deep into the forest. And listening to the frogs when it’s spring.

Thank you so much, Beata and Remek! Follow their Facebook page here if you would like. 

PS: You can find more of our tastemaker series here, including plant time-lapse master @houseplantjournal and plant illustrator @studioplants!

(All photos via Beata and Remek.)

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Jeannie Phan, Illustrator, Freelance

October 13, 2017

Meet Jeannie Phan, an editorial illustrator residing in Toronto, Canada, with her furry best friend, Odin. Jeannie immediately captured our hearts with her picture-worthy and plant-filled apartment when we stumbled upon her on Instagram. Then we realized that she is also an amazing illustrator with a cult following. Swoon. 

Headshot by Dawn Kim

Name: Jeannie Phan
Location: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Freelance Illustrator
Favorite Plant: Strelitzia nicolai (Giant White Bird of Paradise)

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?
I’m above all, an artist, which explains why I can’t help but keep my hands moving and picking up things like plant care, home organization (or really, just the obsessive re-arranging of bric-a-brac) and DIY projects. If you’re into the Meyers-Briggers personality typing, I’m an INTJ, but far from a mathematician.
Originally, I’m from a small city in the prairies of Canada (Winnipeg), born from immigrant parents who brought us up on resourcefulness and appreciation of the outdoors. Although, I’d say I’m a definite late-bloomer in the latter, to the surprise of many! Currently, I hang out in the bustling city of Toronto with my feline best friend, Odin, and an uber supportive life partner. I work, live and grow in a home
studio.

Can you share a little bit about your art?
Sure, my art has developed from being highly ornate to now a body of work that appreciates the simpler forms of people, objects, and places. Hilariously, unlike my personal life, which is buttered in neutrals, my art is colourful, bathed in saturated primaries and overlayed with the colours inbetween. I’m an optimistic person with a dark sense of humour and I like to think my work radiates some of that, particularly with my personal series. To get to the nitty gritty, I’m primarily an editorial illustrator that draws for publications globally. But I also do work in advertising and have a few influencer
campaigns under my belt (I love social media!).

What’s a secret skill you have?
I have an incredible ability to forget birthdays.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?
You know, I have to say when my friend Justine (@patternsandportraits) gifted me with my very first plants, which were two succulents I couldn’t even tell you the name of. I killed one overnight by suffocating it bare-root in a bag (yup…) and the other rotted. I give huge thanks to Justine and my other friend Elaine for really planting the seed with this whole plant obsession. If it wasn’t for that gift and a huge stubbornness to redeem myself, I probably wouldn’t be as big of a plant nerd. Thanks Justine!

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?
My cat Odin, of course!! I have a thing where I don’t put a lot of value in physical objects so everything can burn, and so long as my loved ones are safe, that’s all I need. But alright, if I had to pick something physical, I’d grab my hard drive because it’s the lifeline to my work and an archive of a lot of priceless photos.

What’s on your to-do list today?
Work out. I’ve been really into fitness this year (after years of failed attempts) and valuing self care. Not only is being a freelance illustrator mentally straining, but it physically chips away at your body from hours of drawing at a table. So every day I’ll either go for a walk, jog, or pump some iron.

What is your favorite plant and why?
Strelitzia nicolai (Giant White Bird of Paradise) because it’s one of my oldest surviving tropicals. It was with me when I was a budding plant enthusiast not knowing what it wanted and stuck by when I became better versed with plants. Thankfully, like a trooper, it survived our move and grows bigger (it’s over 6ft tall!) and even prouder. The giant paddles for foliage strelitzia have are no short of majestic. It transcends me into a different world and I’ll often just sit and stare at it while having my morning coffee.
Do you have a “green thumb”? Not naturally, no. People are always surprised when I say I’m a former plant murderer because my mom had a beautiful garden, and I show my love for plants like we’ve been best friends since grade school. But, it just goes to show that anyone can learn the language of plants and appreciate nature, even if it’s not woven within their DNA.

Any plant care tips you can share?
Shower your plants one a month. Much less often for dessert plants of course, but your tropicals, like your garden plants, appreciate some “rain” even if it’s not actually from the outdoors. It helps clear dust, flush out the soil, and keeps pests at bay. Good circulation and adequate light is key afterwards though! To properly dry out the soil.

What tops your houseplant wish list?
I’d love a variegated monstera deliciosa but I’m much more of a plant opportunist, so I gather plants I like when I see them and seldom “hunt” for them. I have enough plants as is!

When did you start illustrating?
I started freelance illustrating full-time in 2013 but I was drawing since I was a kid. I went to art school at OCAD University here in Toronto, and graduated in 2012 with a bachelors. After working at a concept shop/gallery on Queen West or about a year, I decided to dive into freelancing full-time. I started off doing layout design as a graphic designer, but lost interest in it so I finally pushed to just do art 100% of the time. And here I am today!

Do you have a favorite illustration or project?
Recently, it’s the Acqua di Parma influencer campaign I did where I visualized all the scents in their Blu Mediterraneo collection. This collection was inspired by natural botanical ingredients and I just couldn’t imagine a more perfect project to mesh my love of plants and art. You’ll see the sketches for this project pinned on my wall as a momento. They were also kind enough to send me all the perfumes, so you can catch me swimming in the scent of citrus fruit or figs almost everyday.

What inspires you?
Nature, long conversations with friends, my cat.

Any words of advice for those looking to do their passion full-time?
No risk, no reward. You can be strategic in finding a way to freelance full-time but don’t lay plans that are too concrete (because this is a profession that’s fluid) and don’t let it paralyze you. Sometimes, jumping in and learning to swim is the best way. One thing I also really want to stress is, when your passion becomes your job, the dynamics of this relationship shifts. I have classmates from art school that realize that they don’t actually want a career that involves drawing 24/7. They want to be strategic thinkers, or creative in another way. Look at the core ability of what you’re passionate about and be open minded in what skills that can be applied to and maybe that’s a 9-5 job, maybe not. Disregard the topical idealism certain freelance professions have because that shiny coating wears out quickly after a few years.

Thank you so much, Jeannie! Following Jeannie on Instagram: @jeanniephan and @studioplants

P.S. More women share their plant passion, including an artist and a jewelry designer

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Interview, Plant Care

Creating an Herb Garden in Your Kitchen – by Katie Kuchta

October 4, 2017

We’re thrilled to feature a guest post by our friend, Katie Kuchta, on creating an herb garden right in your own kitchen.  Katie came to appreciate nature’s beauty through her plein air painting and finds passion in designing gardens and outdoor living spaces. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing Tai Chi on a nearby beach and taking meditative walks through forests. 

Photo via online

Transitioning into the fall weather has its ups and downs. Frequenting lawn care on the weekends to prepare for a lush yard in the springtime and the dwindling sadness of cleaning out your garden bed. Gardening doesn’t have to end there!

You can do one of two things or both– utilize your freshly cleaned out garden bed for quick growing vegetables or bring the gardening indoors. Lettuce is easy to grow and with some varieties can keep the cold where the winters are mild. If you prefer to bring the garden indoors instead of bearing the chill to exercise your green-thumb, try growing something similar and rewarding like fresh herbs.

Fresh herbs will add zest to the most ordinary of meals. Dried herbs are good enough, but there is no comparison to the vibrant scent and flavor of fresh herbs. Besides, when have you ever been satisfied with “good enough” in your culinary artistry?

There are no fresher herbs than those that you grow at home, let alone in your own kitchen. Not only is it easy to establish and maintain your indoor herb garden, but it’s also an extremely satisfying way of exercising your green thumb year-round. Here are some tips on bringing the outside in by creating an herb garden right in your kitchen!

Let there be light

Photo via online

Of course you want your herb garden in the kitchen where you can reach over and snip the fresh herbs as you cook, but if there is not enough light in the kitchen, an herb garden in any other room works just as well.

Herbs need as much natural light as possible—at least four to five hours of sun a day. Four seasons rooms and rooms with a skylight or larger windows work best. Windows with south or southwest sunlight exposure is ideal, but windows facing the east or west work fine as well.

None of those in your home? Purchase grow lights and position them so that they light the area over your herbs for four to six hours a day. No matter how your herbs receive light, remember to turn them regularly for even exposure and growth.

Keep the herbs comfy

Photo via online

Indoor herbs prefer the same temperatures that most people do— around 65 to 70 degrees F. If you’re comfortable, they probably are too. At night, the temperature near a window may drop to 55 or 60, most herbs are okay with that, just don’t let foliage touch the cold glass. It will turn brown and the plant can die from thermal shock.

Herbs find it difficult to deal with dry air, whether it’s from air conditioning or heating. They’ll appreciate a weekly shower with lukewarm water. Put the pots in the sink, spray them gently but thoroughly and let them drip dry.

Pot and Plant

Photo credit: dogeared (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Now that you’ve found the right spot, select the pots. You may automatically head for clay pots, but they dry out quickly, a real problem in dry climates or when the heater is on in the winter. Stick with glazed or plastic pots. They are better for your herbs, in particular– the glazed pots are so beautifully made that they add another dimension to your home’s décor. Be sure that the pots have drainage holes.

Use a fast-draining potting mix with perlite or vermiculite rather than garden soil to keep the soil loose and aerated. You will need good drainage and protection for your window sill or table top. Place the potted plants on a saucer, liner, or drain pan to catch the drainage.

Photo credit: online

Herbs to start with
When taking care of herbs indoors, it’s best to start with established plants rather than seeds. You’ll have herbs months sooner.

  • Basil: “Genovese” for classic aroma and flavor or “Siam Queen” for a more exotic spicy flavor.
  • Chervil: Also known as French parsley, with delicate overtones of anise.
  • Chives: “Grolau” has a delicate onion flavor and loves growing by a window.
  • Cilantro: Also known as Chinese parsley, with a distinctive flavorful blend of parsley, sage, and citrus.
  • Dill: Grows best indoors. “Fernleaf” dill is an ideal compact variety.
  • Marjoram: This Mediterranean native is related to oregano, but the flavor is sweeter and more delicate.
  • Mint: Peppermint, spearmint or “English” mint—all are good choices. Each needs its own pot. They can get aggressive with other herbs.

Once your herbs are planted, they aren’t particularly demanding. The most important thing to do is to snip or prune back your herbs, once a week on average. Keeping them pruned will make them sturdier and more productive.

Thanks for the tips, Katie! Now you can exercise your green-thumb in the cooler months and enjoy your own farm-to-table herbs year-round. How amazing is that? Do you have any tips when it comes to growing herbs indoors? Comment below! 

P.S Check out more plant care tips and tricks HERE

 

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview

Stressed? Plants are The Answer – by Carrie Ingoglia

September 28, 2017

We are thrilled to feature a guest post by Carrie Ingoglia on why incorporating plants and meditation into your life is important.

If you’ve been feeling any stress lately, you’re not alone. There’s a lot going on in the world of ours.

Maybe you’re constantly running through your to-do list. You feel impatient or frustrated. You have trouble sleeping or digesting. Or maybe you get stuck endlessly scrolling through your social feeds (This morning I went to look up the weather, and 20 minutes went by while I checked Twitter and Instagram. Meanwhile, I totally forgot to look at the weather.)

No matter how stress manifests for you, nature offers a biological antidote that we often forget.

We’re built to respond to the seasons and the natural environment —being close to nature helps us go with the flow. But because our daily lives are often so far removed from the natural world, it’s easy to feel disconnected. Luckily, you don’t have to immerse yourself in bioluminescent pools or spend hours forest bathing to get the positive effects of nature.

WHAT DOES STRESS DO?

When we are stressed, our bodies react by turning on our “fight or flight” response. This is a chemical response that makes our hearts beat faster, our breathing get faster and more shallow, and our digestion slow, redirecting energy to the big muscles of the body so we can run away or stand our ground against the tiger that’s chasing us through the forest.

The problem is, our body doesn’t know the difference between a very real threat from an animal of prey and a message on social media that makes us angry or defensive. It reacts with the same stress response to a tiger or a tweet. And being in a constant state of fight or flight is exhausting and can lead to all sorts of ailments big and small.

JUST BREATHE

The good news is, the stress response has a built-in counter balance. We can reverse the whole thing, and we can do it just by breathing. Becoming aware of your breath has a way of getting us out of our heads and into our bodies. Deep breathing is known to slow the heart rate and helps bring us down from fight or flight.

Our breath and our bodies are our instant connection back to the present moment. By paying attention to that, we can more easily come back down to earth — no matter where we are.

HERE’S WHERE THE PLANTS COME IN

Adding natural elements to our daily lives can help us feel more connected and less stressed out.

It’s no surprise that a hike helps calm us down. Or that gardening can be used as a kind of meditation. In fact, according to Psychology Today, several scientific studies have shown the presence of houseplants has been found to be lower blood pressure, increase focus, and lower anxiety in schools, at work, and even in hospitals. (Learn more about the benefits of indoor plants here.) 

Plants help keep us grounded when we’re all up in our heads.

THREE WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS:
  • Take three deep breaths.

This one is easy and you can do it anywhere. But it may take some practice. Wherever you are, pause. Sit or stand with your feet planted on the ground and let your spine be long. Breathe in through your nose to the count of three. Then breathe out through your nose to the count of five. Do this three or more times and see how you feel.

  • Go for a walk outside.

Even if you’re not in the woods or on the beach, just being outside can help make us feel more connected. If you’re at work, try going for a walk around the block without your phone. Stand on the corner waiting for the bus without checking your email. Spot a little dandelion sprouting through the cracks in the sidewalk. Just be outside.

  • Do a guided plant meditation.

Spend some quality time with whatever plants you have around you, whether it’s a big Fiddle Leaf Fig or a tiny succulent. Luckily, you’ve got a guided meditation right here to help start you on you’re way.

 

Thank you so much, Carrie! Have you ever meditated (and do you have plants around you when you do it)? What else would you add? 

PS Carrie is a yoga teacher and the writer + producer of the podcast, Yoga For the Revolution

PPS Find our plant picks that will purify air while you meditate HERE!

 

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Interview, Plant History

Travel Within Your Home With These 7 Houseplants

August 17, 2017

Why settle for a souvenir when you could have a living memento of your travels?

Plants bring colors to life, they grow with your care, they originate from fascinating places…

We teamed up with HomeToGo to suggest 7 unique houseplants you can use to create vacation vibes in your home. From the tropical Myanmar jungle to the refreshingly high altitude of the Himalayas, these plants will make your home a travel expedition!

P.S. Find HomeToGo’s interview with our plant expert extraordinaire Christopher Satch HERE.

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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview

Having Pets AND Plants

June 22, 2017

We interviewed a few of our team members that are parents to both pets *and* plants for their top tips about keeping the peace in a jungle-like apartment… 

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Above is Tweeks, one of our Marketing Director Erin’s cats, sharing her favorite sill with a few potted plants! 

MEET ANGELA, PLANT SPECIALIST

NAME: Angela Muriel

PETS: I have 5 cats living in my apartment. I got involved doing some TNR (trap, neuter, return) volunteer work in my Crown Heights neighborhood and in the process found an abandoned litter of kittens. I was able to get a few adopted but a couple still remain in my care so they are now a part of my crew.

Cisco _ Helios (Angela)

PLANTS: I currently have a Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata), a Grape Ivy (Cissus rhombifolia) and several terrariums. I always keep a flat of grass for all the kitties to enjoy and to provide them with some nature.

TIPS: Cats will find their way into just about anything and are incredible climbers. My large plants are in hanging baskets out of their reach and of course the terrariums are enclosed in glass so they can’t get to those (ha ha!). I am able to enjoy a huge variety of plants in the terrariums, as well as create a whole environment in miniature form.

Sally on grass (Angela)

I have reviewed many poisonous plant lists and quite frankly if one were to adhere closely to them your choices would be really limited (find all our non-toxic plants here). One thing to keep in mind is that with many plants the animal would have to ingest a substantial amount to become ill. It is most important to observe the behaviour of your pet in regards to your plants. Many pets will simply ignore the greenery, where as others may be attracted to certain leaves or growth habits. That said, there are certain plants that can be fatal if eaten i.e. Sago Palm (not a “true palm” but a Cycad which are a primitive group), some plants from the Euphorbia family which produce a milky sap when cut, a few Aroids especially the Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia) and any bulb plants such as Lilies, Hyacinth, Daffodil, Amaryllis, etc.

Never assume that an animal will instinctively “know” which plant is “good” or “bad” and this isn’t any measure of their intelligence. Our pets are domesticated animals and so much of nature is just not in their realm of experience. A good pet owner will just have to practice keen observation.

 

MEET PEGGY, SHOP MANAGER

NAME: Peggy Lu

PETS: I have a 2-year-old French Bulldog, Olivia, and a 10-month-old cat, Mia, who my husband rescued off the street.

Peggy's dog-2

PLANTS: I cohabit with probably 40ish plants now. Most of them are air-purifying plants – Fern, Snake plant, ZZ plant, Pothos, Ivy, Philodendron, Spider plant, terrarium plants, and many cacti and succulents – that I bought since I started working at The Sill. Yes, I am that girl who wants to put her plants to work: providing fresh oxygen.

Peggy's cat-2

TIPS: My dog, Olivia, could not care less about plants, the one I had trouble with was my kitty, Mia. She is only a baby – she has so much energy in her. She bites and swaps my plants ALL THE TIME. It used to bother me a lot; however, I realized she only does it out of boredom or when she is in a playful mood. I’ve learned some tips that hopefully will help your pet and your plants live in harmony:

1. Buy cat grass. Bonus: you’ve got another plant!
2. Don’t discipline your pet when they’ve chew/attacked you plants. Especially cats will react to negative and positive reinforcement the same. Trust me, they will do it while you sleep. I pretend to not see it while Mia is at it now, and quietly clean up after her while she is not looking.
3. Try a citrus spray! Dogs and cats do not like anything that is in citrus family. Bonus: your home will not only will look nice with plants, but it will smell amazing too!
4. Play with them! Enjoy one-on-one time and tire them out. A happy and tired dog/cat will leave things alone.
5. Live with it. I’ve learned to live with imperfect foliages. Overall, It is your pet’s home too!
6. Do your research before buying a plant – both for the health of the plant and your lovely companions at home.

Peggy's cat-1

 

MEET CATHERINE, OPERATIONS + PLANT SPECIALIST

NAME: Catherine Cummings

PETS: I recently adopted a kitten from the Somerset County Shelter in NJ to grow my little family! Her name’s Lana after the character on Archer. She’s non-stop energy and endlessly curious.

PLANTS: My house is filled with plants of all kinds, including hanging pothos and philodendrons, cacti, succulents, ferns, etc. I’ve completely lost track of how many I have at this point, but they cover every available surface…

TIPS: I keep most plants up out of her reach on shelves mounted on the walls. The plants that take over the windows I always make sure are safe for pets, such as haworthia succulents and bromeliads. She’s never shown any interest in chewing any of them – and I make sure she has plenty to keep her busy while I’m gone by leaving out boxes and new things for her to explore. Luckily she’s more interested in trying to catch my fish than chewing on the plants!

 

MEET SARINA, PLANT MAINTENANCE

NAME: Sarina Perez

PETS: My chubster, Gideon. I adopted him after a former roommate found a box of kittens in the dumpster three years ago. Back home, we have a dog named Cash who lives in my mom’s country garden on the outskirts of San Antonio.

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PLANTS: I have around 30 houseplants, but unfortunately only one window in my LES apartment’s living room. My bedroom is actually subterranean. Thankfully through my time working at The Sill I’ve found there are so many types of plants that can tolerate moderate to low-light situations. I have a lot of philodendron and pothos variations, snake plants, a few broadleaf ferns, and palms.

Being a Texas native – I really miss all the cacti that line the streets, so I cram what I can into the biggest spots on my window. I love large plants, so I have a nice big rubber tree (Ficus elastica), Philodendron vellum, and Monstera deliciosa right by the window. My mom has everything from a prickly pear cactus over 7ft tall, to ivy, to begonias, to elephant ears, to palm trees. Cash pulls some weeds every now and then – but he also loves to nap amongst them.

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TIPS: Gideon loves hiding behind the large ones and jumping out to scare me. Also has been known to nap under the wide leaves of my monstera, which I totally understand. Sometimes when he is mad at me though he will dig the soil of the larger plants. I’ve found that if I put a few large rocks on top of the soil, he won’t do it again. If you’re thinking about getting a cat – I would keep small plants off the edges of your shelves and tables, since they’re bound to knock a few over. If you notice your pet going around a certain plant, try surrounding it with a few potted cacti…

 

MEET JENNA, SHOPKEEPER + PLANT MAINTENANCE

NAME: Jenna Kohl

PETS: I have two Siberian cats named Munch and Finn. I adopted them from the Meow Parlour a few blocks away from The Sill shop. My boyfriend named them after detectives on Law and Order SVU.

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PLANTS: I have over one hundred plants the last time I counted; they are everywhere. Luckily, my apartment has space to fill, so it doesn’t look overwhelming – i.e., there is still room for more plants. I have snakes and aglaonema in a hall with low light. Then scattered everywhere else are monstera, ponytail palm, pilea peperomioides, calathea, aralia, a lot of pothos and philodendron, fiddle leaf fig tree, peperomia, fern, and the list goes on.

TIPS: If you’ve got a furry nibbler like mine are, the ASPCA has lists of toxic plants that are worth looking at, and The Sill has a special pet-friendly, i.e. non-toxic, collection page. All my toxic plants live either on high shelves, kitchen cabinets, plant stands, or a wardrobe. My cats aren’t great jumpers so they don’t even attempt to get them. The accessible plants are all pet friendly; if they chew on one I don’t have to worry. I also deter them with wheatgrass which is good for their digestion.

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MEET RACHEL, DESIGNER + ACCOUNT MANAGER

NAME: Rachel Lyons

PETS: Peloton Seelyons

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PLANTS: My Brooklyn apartment houses a few Monstera deliciosa, Pothos, Bird of Paradise, Agave, Schefflera, Prickly Pear Cactus, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Calathea, Xerographica, Boston Fern, Orchids, Snake Plants, Jade, and much much more…

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TIPS: My 1.5 year old barn kitty rescue rarely tries to eat any of the plants. He was raised with them from a tiny kitten, so for Pelo it’s more about using the greenery to get my attention – by rustling leaves, teetering terra cotta, or snapping branches in the early morning hours to say ‘feed me now’. Sometimes he’ll chew my aloe, which is toxic, but he never swallows it or shows signs of distress. Don’t let feline friends ruin the bliss of having houseplant friends. Put up shelving, get creative and wall-mount your greens. Or have one sacrificial non-toxic plant that takes the pouncing each day so that the others can flourish safely.

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MEET ROBYN, DESIGNER + ACCOUNT MANAGER

NAME: Robyn Moore

PETS: My dog Disco!

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PLANTS: Succulents, Cacti, a Snake Plant, an Avocado Tree (yes…!), an Aglaonema, and assorted Ferns

TIPS: I keep all my plans up high (countertops, planter stands, shelves, etc.) so Disco is less likely to be distracted by them. I have friends who have had issues with their dogs eating more toxic items – like bad foods, or garbage – but plants have never been an issue. Dogs are smarter than cats (sorry…) and will leave it alone once they realize it doesn’t taste good or make them feel good! It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior. Most often, the warning signs of consumption are clear and rarely fatal. But it’s always best to just avoid any occurrence – if your dog is prone to chewing, stay away from plants with a latex-like sap (pencil cactus, rubber plant, ZZ).

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P.S. Shop our team’s favorite pet-friendly houseplants.