Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Plant stylist? Oh, why not.

My mother was a plant lady. We always had plants in the house, and part of the routine Saturday chore list (which included dusting, mopping, vacuuming, waste-basket-emptying, and bathroom scrubbing) for me and my sister Kath was watering the plants. Sansevieria. Coleus. Cactus. Pothos. Christmas Cactus. Geraniums. Spider plants. Ficus.

But it was only after she made her way into empty-nester that my mother really went to town. 

Half the back wall in the family room was taken up by a bay window. It got a lot of sun, so it became Plant Central. I don't know how many plants there were there, but Lizzie eventually had staging built in front of the window to hold more of her plants. She also got some sort of long plant hose attached to the kitchen sink so she didn't have to keep going back and forth with the watering can. In her later years, she spent a month each winter visiting a friend in Florida, and she had to hire someone to come in and water her plants.

I didn't inherit my mother's interest in plants, or her green thumb. I'm not a black thumb exactly -  and as I write this I'm getting the urge to do a bit of plant shopping - but I'm just not much into plants. I have plants off and on - mostly off (if you don't count pointsettias, which I usually hang onto after Christmas and give up on in July; for some reason, this year, I gave mine the boot right after the new year). 

At present, I have one plant. A geranium that's kind of stalky and which currently has no flowers, no buds. I'm on the fence between aggressively pinching it back to see if I can get another flower or two out of it, or just tossing it out. I'll probably do a bit of pinching and hang on to it for a while longer - flowered or flowerless - because I love that geranium smell. 

But I wouldn't mind having a few more plants around. So maybe I should consider hiring a plant stylist.

Plant stylist? Yes, plant stylist. And I hadn't heard of it, either, until my sister Kath sent me a link to an article in the NY Times on the subject.

Brooklyn-based Lisa Muñoz is a plant stylist/designer/caretaker who runs Leaf and June. Starting at $2,000, she'll swing by your home and strategically and aesthetically place plants in it. I looked at her website, and it's all very beautiful. But $2K? Seems like a lot to pay someone to perch a plant in a terracotta pot on your windowsill. But this is New York we're talking about.  

Not that NYC is alone here. I googled "plant stylist Boston" and it turns out there's a plant stylist just a couple of blocks from where I live. Her "gallery" is in the basement of the Restoration Hardware store, which is all in keeping with her look and feel. She doesn't advertise her prices, but I'm guessing a lot but not $2K for starters.

In some ways, plant styling is nothing new.

Nurseries and flower shops have long provided professional plant care for offices and homes. Most billionaires of Park Avenue, one assumes, don’t water their ficus trees. Ms. Muñoz offers such maintenance services to her clients, too.

But her real role is in performing the job that a fashion stylist or art consultant might — to make aesthetic choices and sound investments on someone’s behalf. Just … about plants.
There's more to plants than just the plants. Plant stylists are not just about the pothos. They're about the pots.
For one Brooklyn homeowner, Ms. Muñoz put a schefflera tree in the kids’ room, with rich, green foliage that droops like an umbrella. She paired it with a showstopper pot — a $1,500 ceramic planter from Bzippy & Co.
That "drooping like an umbrella" sounds cool, but who puts a $1,500 planter in a kids' room? 

Anyway, plant stylist is a more interesting gig than a lot of the non-do-it-yourselfer gigs that have sprung up from the gig economy. I remember reading about someone who contacted Task Rabbit after he stepped in dog crap and "needed" someone to go out and buy him a new pair of Tom's so he could continue on his way. And plant stylist pays better than Task Rabbit-ing. (C.f., $2,000 minimum.)

Me? I have definitely convinced myself that, when the weather gets a bit nicer, I'm going to go out and get me a plant. I'm thinking a nice variegated coleus for starters.  Or maybe something in the sansevieria family. And pot shopping will be fun, even though I won't be forking over $1,500 for a planter. 

Style on!

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