Rooney Bloom: The Joy of “Greens”

Some time ago, I shared a bit about my personal journey with mental health. I have always been an anxious person. However, when my daughter Ana was born in 2016, I began battling postpartum anxiety

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My little cutie at two months – too bad being cute doesn’t stop postpartum depression or anxiety from rearing its ugly head!

It didn’t help that my youngest son August – not even three-years-old at the time – was hospitalized due to uncontrollable febrile seizures just two months after her birth. The postpartum anxiety, coupled with very real concerns about August’s health, turned me into a giant hot mess.

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Holding my sweet boy during his hospital stay

I like to think that I held it together pretty well on the outside, but looking back, I’m not sure…because inside, I was completely falling apart. Anything and everything caused me excess anxiety, and as a result, I began experiencing other issues with my health.

Finally, I reached the point where I knew I needed to do something – anything – to make things better. So I did two things that changed my path: I went to my doctor and was prescribed medication to manage my anxiety; and I pursued a hobby that would allow me to unwind and find rest for my mind and body – namely, working with houseplants.

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Today, I am still medicated and still battle anxiety, but it is nowhere near as serious as it was two years ago. Also, I continue to work with my plants on a daily basis; they still bring me the same sense of “internal quiet” that they did when I first began my plant journey.

Today I am honored to feature a guest post by Eric Rooney, of Rooney Bloom. Previously a teacher in more formal settings, Eric is passionate about teaching and sharing the benefits plants to people’s physical and emotional bodies.

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I began my early career as a teacher, predominantly teaching science in middle grade education. I dabbled in formal teaching, technology in San Francisco, and retail work but my creativity and, as some would call it, ADHD had me going somewhere else. I didn’t feel content.  I wasn’t consciously aware of it, but I hadn’t yet found what made me “tick”.

In 2015, I lived in San Francisco, and was let go from my highest paying job ever. As you probably know, living in San Francisco (where rent is the highest in the USA) with no job meant, well, hurry the F up and start making money, or move along.  Rent alone was over 3k a month, and I had a background in education. California doesn’t make it easy to become certified to teach in their public schools, and I was NOT about to go back to making a mere 28k a year teaching young adolescents, nor could I afford to. I felt as though I was slowly losing my sanity, my connection to the earth, and people!

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Image courtesy of Rooney Bloom

To stay motivated, I’d get up early and head to the flower mart, continually filling my windows with plants and fresh cuts. I’d design and create with flowers, offering them to neighbors as a gift. I’d buy cheap plants at the Wednesday farmers markets, repot them, and bring them home.  I’d freak out when I had a new bloom, a new leaf, yelling to my partner “LOOK! There’s a new leaf! She loves it in our apartment.”  He often told me, “No more plants, we don’t have the room.”  But still, I’d come home with fresh cuts, waiting to be styled, or a new plant, looking for a new, upcycled pot!

I loved it.  I loved seeing plants change, and react to my touch and care.  I loved knowing their care was dependent on me, their next bloom was reliant on if I remembered to water.  I was intrigued by their ability to break down carbon dioxide and produce clean, fresh, oxygen that my body needed.  I got excited to see a new bloom or a little tiny teeny baby leaf that wasn’t even a leaf yet. Slowly I, myself, began to transform and to find significant pieces of peace and tranquility allowing my soul to rest. My plant “disease” was quickly spreading.

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Image courtesy of Rooney Bloom

I learned a deeper foundation of care.  Knowing that not any two plants smell, grow, or produce the same, kind of like humans. I was taught about patience as I waited for my plants to product the next blooms or my cacti to grow (because golly, grow slowly!)  Japanese Maple bonsai trees from seed take weeks to germinate alone, and the joy I felt when they finally broke the soil is indescribable.  I didn’t at first feel and notice these things; it took time, repetition, and a little coaxing. It took paying attention and slowing down, and I really have learned it’s a must to “stop and smell the roses.”

I will forever be learning from and with plants. They continually allow me to grow up and learn. They also provide a fount of connection, worth, and community. Plants have connected civilizations since the beginning of time, and I now venture to connect people with horticultural and plants, discovering what they offer for each personal individually.

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Image courtesy of Rooney Bloom

I now work full time, lifting humans’ subconscious love and “underground” connection to plants to a conscience level for full benefit. With my roots being anchored in education, I know it’s my role to make plant knowledge and horticultural benefits known, sharing and teaching them to others.  I am now involved with plants in a variety of ways, including organic, pesticide-free farming, floral design, free home foliage advice, native landscape design, heirloom gardening, and even classes on floral crowns; these lovely “greens” are changing lives.

I owe much of my own personal happiness to plants, as do we all: our clean oxygen, the colors we see, the smells we enjoy, all that our sun allows to flourish. The benefits of plants are real: they reduce stress, increase motivation, promote better sleep, clean the air, enhance creativity, promote relaxation, give you more energy – the list goes on and on!

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Image courtesy of Rooney Bloom

My personal desire is share this love of plants with anyone and everyone. Not only do I have a store located in Denver, CO, but I also offer consultations if you just need some plant-related help. If you have general questions about how to properly care for your plants, check out the “Common Questions” link on my page. Also, you can give me a follow on Instagram (@rooney_bloom) to indulge in the magic and healing of plants.

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Plants have changed my life. I’d love to help them change yours!

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Stump

Before my family and I were even thinking of moving to Columbus, Ohio, I had already scoped out the plant scene here. As part of my search, I stumbled upon Stump’s Italian Village location. The moment I walked into the store, I was surrounded by what can only be described as “art.” The dark walls and carefully placed lighting accentuated the incredible greenery and handmade ceramics all around. I could instantly tell this was a special place.

While I have visited Stump on multiple occasions, including a workshop I took in the fall, I had only had a chance to chat briefly with owners Emily and Brian Kellett. It was a pleasure to sit down with them several weeks ago and learn more about Stump. With Ray, the sweetest shop “mascot” you will ever meet, lying sleepily on the floor at their feet, Emily and Brian shared their story with me.

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Ray was thoroughly unimpressed with my attempts to take her picture…

Before Emily and Brian met, Emily went to school for industrial design with a focus on design research; as part of one of her projects, she researched what the future of garden retail could potentially look like. At the time, many garden centers across the country were having difficulty remaining relevant year-round, as almost all of their sales were made in the spring. Additionally, many garden centers struggled with appealing to people of different generations, ethnicities, etc. Emily traveled around the country, visiting different garden centers, and interviewed owners, employees, and customers about their experiences.

Around that time, Emily and Brian met when some mutual friends invited them both out for drinks. Brian was teaching full-time, going to Ohio State University for his doctorate, and was working to help with the design of Rockmill Brewery. However despite both being insanely busy, the two hit it off and began dating. With their corresponding backgrounds, they dreamed of starting a plant business together.

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At first, Emily and Brian considered running a plant booth at a farmer’s market or owning a plant truck that would host pop-ups in the Columbus area. However, when a retail space became available about two and a half years ago – the space where they are now located in Italian Village – they took a leap of faith and decided to launch their business as a brick and mortar space instead.

“The outside [of the building] was kind of a mess, but it had potential” Emily says, laughing. The building was light gray with green trim, and had lots of cracks in the exterior finish. The inside featured lime green walls and fluorescent lights. (Sounds lovely, right?!) After some TLC from Emily and Brian, along with their friends and family, they transformed the space, and within a month, they opened the shop. (Fun fact: Stump opened its doors exactly one year to the day from when Emily and Brian met.) Less than two years later in February 2017, Stump opened its second location in German Village.

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Stump’s German Village Location

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Working together at Stump only brought Emily and Brian closer together. (Let me tell you how LUCKY they are…because I’m not so sure I could work in such close proximity to someone I also lived with…ha!). Last month, in March 2018, Emily and Brian eloped to Rocky Mountain National Park!

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Woohoo! Congratulations Emily and Brian! (Image courtesy of Stump)

Something else that makes Stump really special is that they carry an ever-rotating collection of curated, handmade ceramics. When they first started, they facilitated several artist residencies, where ceramic artists came into the shop and created pieces of art on the premises. These pieces of art bring something special to the shop, and work to compliment the beautiful plants that they hold.

Emily and Brian are currently expanding Stump with the recent purchase of 10 acres of land outside of Columbus. They are planning to build a greenhouse on there so that they can keep extra inventory on hand, as well as grow some of their own plants. They also plan to reinstate the artist residency program once they build a ceramic studio on that property.

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Before ending our time together, I asked Emily and Brian if they had any tips for those just beginning their plant journey. One tip they had was to select a forgiving plant to start. Stump always keeps ZZ plants and snake plants in stock, as they are some of the best plants for beginners. They also have extremely knowledgeable staff members on hand that are able to advise customers on the right plant for their own, personal space.

Another thing that Stump does to make their customers have a successful plant experience is that they fill out a plant care card for every plant they sell. The card indicates the name of the plant, how often the plant should be watered, and the type of light the plant needs. This is fantastic for any plant owner – especially new ones!

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Emily and Brian are seriously some of the nicest people I have met during my time in Columbus. Case in point: Emily ended our interview together with a hug. I love getting to know the people behind the plant stores I love, and getting to know Emily and Brian a little has only made me want to shop at Stump even more.

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If you are from the Columbus area or are ever visiting, you must check out one of Stump’s locations! They are located in Italian Village at 305 E. 5th Avenue (Monday thru Saturday, 11:00-6:00 and Sunday, 12:00-5:00) and German Village at 220 Thurman Avenue (Monday thru Friday, 11:00-6:00 and Saturday/Sunday, 10:00-5:00). If you stop by, be sure to tell them that the {house}plant momma sent you!

To learn more about Stump…
Website: http://stumpplants.com
Instagram: @stumpplants
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stumpplants/

– the {house}plant momma

Momma’s Evening Out

My husband loves me. I mean, I know he loves me all the time, but sometimes he goes above and beyond to make me happy.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we recently moved into a new house; what I haven’t shared, though, is that the house has been one issue after another – from carpenter ants infesting the walls to water damage to leaking pipes. The cost of moving plus the cost of all of the unexpected repairs has made us a little more financially careful right now.  It has also been emotionally exhausting.

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Love him.

About a month ago, I received an e-mail from Stump, a local plant boutique, about their upcoming workshops. One of these workshops really caught my eye – a workshop focused on creating cactus and succulent planters. I immediately wanted to go, but was hesitant to spend the money. When I mentioned it to my husband, he had one word, “Go.” That’s it. He knew how happy attending this workshop would make me, and he made my happiness a top priority.

He’s so good to me. *swoon* <Ok, I’ll stop with the mushy stuff…>

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I arrived to Stump the evening of the workshop, excited to get my hands dirty! The lovely owners, Emily and Brian, had the shop all set up for the workshop – including delicious snacks and drinks. For the first half an hour or so, we snacked, chatted, and admired all of the gorgeous plants Stump has to offer.

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The cactus and succulent room at Stump is kinda my favorite…

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And then, the real fun began! Before we began, Emily explained how to successfully make a cactus or succulent planter – first add dirt, carefully remove your plants (including how to avoid losing a finger if you were working with cacti!), set your plants carefully in the soil, and cover with a decorative soil cover. She also discussed how to care for the planters, including water and light requirements.

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The lovely Emily giving directions
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Aren’t these bowls lovely?

As soon as Emily was done demonstrating and giving instructions, she invited us to pick our plants and begin creating our planters. I meticulously poured over the plants, opting to create a cactus planter. There were so many unique options – big and small – that it was really difficult to choose the plants I wanted to use. Finally, though, I decided on five little pots of cacti, a terracotta bowl, and a light-colored soil cover.

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So many amazing options!
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My selections

I began by looking carefully at my cacti and mentally figuring out how I wanted to arrange them in the planter. I moved them around in a variety of ways on the counter, trying to gauge how they would look best in my bowl. After I had an idea of how I wanted to arrange the cacti, I filled my terracotta bowl with soil.

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Concentrating…

Next, I carefully removed the cacti from their planters. I did this by first gently squeezing the outside of planter to loosen the soil. Then, I dumped out the soil and cactus gently on the counter. I removed much of the soil from the roots, trying all the while not to get pricked! I made a small hole in the dirt in my planter and carefully set the cactus down in the hole. I used my fingers, as well as the blunt end of a paintbrush, to pack down the soil around the bottom of the cactus. I then used the brush end of the paintbrush to remove excess dirt that got caught in the spikes.

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Time to brush off the cacti!

Despite my best attempts, I got some pretty good pricks on the finger! Emily and Brian provided leather gloves for handling the cacti, but me – being ridiculous and stubborn – didn’t put them on.

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After all of my cacti were in the bowl and had adequate dirt around their roots, I used a light color decorative soil cover on top of the soil and perlite. I used the paintbrush again to push the soil cover into the little nooks and crannies under the cacti.

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Ta-da!  Finished product!

At the end of the workshop, Emily provided a care card for my planter, which will be helpful if I have any questions on how much water or light my planter needs. (I’m sure this was especially helpful for those who attended the workshop that were relatively new to plants…but as my last post discussed, I keep drowning my cacti, so I’m sure this will help me, too!)

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As I prepared to leave…my eye caught a gorgeous string of hearts plant for sale. I have had this on my plant wish list for AGES, so naturally I couldn’t leave without it.

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My evening spent at Stump was amazing, and I left with some beautiful plants to add to my collection. Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom gets monotonous; the everyday routine can become cumbersome. I am so thankful for the opportunity to step outside of the norm and enjoy a night out!

– the {house}plant momma

No Longer Plant Killers: Tierra Sol Studio

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with little things. As a child of the 90’s, that meant that I couldn’t get enough of Polly Pocket dolls tucked inside their clamshells, Littlest Pet Shop animals, and Maple Town characters – complete with a teeny-tiny baby bottle (which I still have!).

As an adult, I still have an attraction to miniature things, so I guess that it’s no surprise that a tiny thimble cactus caught my eye one day when I was browsing on Instagram. Upon further investigation, I discovered Tierra Sol Studio – a fantastic Etsy store that specializes in low maintenance cacti and succulents in a variety of sizes. As soon as I read the first line of the “About” section on their website (which reads, “I am so happy you found us! We were plant killers too!”), I know this was a company I wanted to work with!

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Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

I have ordered several cacti from Tierra Sol Studio (here’s their Etsy store), and have been so impressed by the products I have received. The cacti have arrived in tip-top shape, the little handmade pots are so cute and perfectly complement the cacti, and – most impressively – my recent move did not even phase these cacti. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have these plants in my collection!

Tierra Sol Studio was started in January 2014 by Seana and Yair Monley Rodriguez because, as Seana puts it, “We couldn’t keep plants alive.” Seana wanted to have plants in her writing space for grad school, but the apartment in which she and Yair lived had little light, and neither one had much experience with plants. She and Yair began experimenting with plants that could survive lower light conditions and the neglect that Seana’s long trips out of the country on fieldwork caused. They found that many succulents do not do well indoors, even though many are advertised as being “hard to kill.” Because of this, they began researching plants, their natural environments, and how they could best replicate those environments inside.

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Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

“Our goal is to provide forever plants,” Seana tells me. With this goal in mind, Sean and Yair now grow the hardiest plants possible in a greenhouse that they designed and built specifically to allow plants to adapt easily to indoor light. They make their planters absorbent to avoid overwatering, discovering early on that glass containers did not work well for desert plants as it holds in too much humidity. Seana and Yair also hand-mix their own fluffy, sandy cactus and succulent soil.

Tierra Sol Studio has high standards for growing only low-maintenance cacti and succulents; the plants they grow survive with one tablespoon of water per month (or less) and have a low light minimum. They use only one type of hardy moss in their terrarium kits that needs no light at all (!!!) and only needs to be watered every six months. In case you can’t tell, they are truly committed to providing the most user-friendly, easy plant experience for fellow “plant killers.”

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Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

Because of this commitment to excellence, Tierra Sol Studio has gotten national attention – which is well deserved, if you ask me! Their top selling unicorn moss terrarium kit has been featured by Buzzfeed three times, and they just recently came in second place in USA Today’s 10 Best Makers in the US: Home and Garden for their top-selling handmade planters and studio-grown plants. They have also been featured on Etsy a few times so far this year (2017).

Recently, Tierra Sol Studio started a new feature on their website: the Planter Killer Club, which allows them to connect more closely with fellow plant lovers. This club is intended to build the confidence of plant owners by providing tips and advice on plant care. Seana says, “We like being a part of an online plant community because we can see which plants people love that are classics and new variations, we hear about people’s plant problems, and are able to help them build their confidence about plant care.”

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Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

I asked Seana why she loves working with plants, and she responded, “They make us feel happy and calm.” (I’m thinking to myself, This is the exact reason I work with them, as well!) “Plants are scientifically known to help us focus and reduce stress. They are beautiful and are relatively inexpensive ways to make bold changes in your home, which is especially nice in fall and winter when you spend more time in the cozy indoors.”

Seana also has valuable advice for those who are new to the world of houseplants. She recommends first doing research about the plants you need, or get your plants from a grower who is knowledgeable and can give you good recommendations. She also recommends starting small with a hardy plant, a high-quality, hand-mixed soil, and an absorbent planter. “The top reasons for succulent and cactus plant death are bringing in plants that can’t survive indoors and keeping plants in cheap soil that can slide out of the plastic cup. This soil clumps around roots, holds water against them, and kills them from the roots up. A great hand mixed soil and an absorbent pot will allow for roots to dry and receive oxygen.”

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Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

(Seriously, I had an “ah-ha” moment when she said that…no wonder I always see cacti and succulents growing more happily in terracotta planters…duh!)

I love supporting small businesses, but I also love good quality products. Tierra Sol Studio puts a checkmark in BOTH of those boxes! Please take a look at their site – I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Each one of their little plants has so much personality! I seriously want one of each!

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Image courtesy of Tierra Sol Studio

Website: www.tierrasolstudio.com
Instagram: @tierrasolstudio
Email: tierrasolstudio@gmail.com
News: http://www.newsobserver.com/living/home-garden/article92381652.html

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Please take a look at their site and let me know what you think in the comments below!

– the {house}plant momma

Luna: My Favorite Plant Store Ever!

If you read my very first blog post, you know that my plant journey truly began on a warm spring day in March 2017, when I stumbled upon a shop called Luna Gifts and Botanicals. Luna is located in the historic Oregon district – an up and coming area of Dayton, Ohio. As soon as I had been bitten by the “plant bug,” my visits to Luna became nearly a weekly occurrence. Not only is the shop beautiful, but some of the nicest, sweetest people you will ever meet work there. (Seriously, they remembered my kids’ names, remembered me from visit and visit, and would even text me suggestions of plants when I needed them! BEST EVER!)

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Seeing this sign is like coming home!

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Since my family and I moved from Dayton nearly two months ago, I have been missing my weekly visits to Luna terribly. I follow their account on Instagram (@luna_gifts), and their gorgeous posts make me even more homesick.

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I love this little chalkboard sign!

Last week, I had the chance to go home to Dayton – specifically to visit my favorite plant store ever! As soon as I stepped into the shop, I could not stop smiling. Lovely plants in every shade of green, goods and gifts sourced from many independent artisans, and beautiful pots and planters surrounded me. To top it all off, I was given the warmest welcome by almost the complete staff of Luna, even including the owners! During my visit, I had a privilege to chat with the girls about many different aspects of their shop.

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Luna’s sister store, Heart Mercantile, opened in October 2015, selling a variety of unique products and gifts. They added plants to their store’s offerings, and couldn’t keep plants on the shelves. However, Heart’s space was limited and when they heard the new retail space had opened up around the corner, the group of best friends decided to open a second store, focused mainly on plants and bohemian-themed gifts; Luna opened in September 2016.

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It was all I could do not to take this guy home…

When describing the scope of both stores, the girls describe Heart as the “funny” or “dark” store (seriously if you ever visit, you’ll understand why…but you might not want to take your kids there if they can read – HA!), while Luna is the more “light” store. They are both seriously amazing!

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One of my favorite things about Luna is that it is not just a plant store, but sells many different types of products – from crystals to candles, books to jewelry, planters to food goods. They features a lot of Etsy vendors for these items, a total of 200 different sellers between Heart and Luna. (Some of their favorite Etsy venders include: Pen + Pillar cards, Wild Botanicals, 39 north jewelry, Heartswell, Capricorn Press, URB Apothecary, Savve Studios, and Goodsmith Studio.) They also source local products as often as they can. Their goal is to find unique gifts and goods – something different that you can’t find elsewhere – and they do a fantastic job of it!

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Um, I think I need one of each…

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When it comes to plants, the Luna staff likes to handpick unique plants for their customers – and they love learning about new varieties along the way. All of this knowledge trickles down to Luna’s patrons. When you begin searching for a plant at Luna, you will find that the plants are grouped together by the type of light they prefer and the amount of care they require. This is just one way that the Luna girls try to help their customers – specifically those who might be new to owning houseplants – have a successful plant experience. They also have care cards up by the register for the different types of plants they sell. These are available for customers to take, giving the purchaser a good foundation of knowledge to take with them.

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However, my favorite way to find out more about plants is – of course – to ask! The girls who work at Luna are so incredibly knowledgeable about the plants they sell. They give great advice as to what type of plant will do well in a certain space – taking into account light of your space, as well as how much time you want to commit to it’s care – and have a great aesthetic eye for offering advice on planters or other gifts and decor. They have seriously never steered me wrong!

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Looking up…

I asked what the most commonly sold plant at Luna is; the girls agreed snake plants, ZZ plants, and air plants are some of their most-sold plants. They also sell a lot of cacti and succulents, which just so happened to be the plant of the week during my visit.

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During our time together, I shared with the girls that my first successful plant experience had been a monstera plant purchased at their shop. They were so tickled that they had been the inspiration for this crazy plant journey on which I find myself! (I think it was then that they understood why I have such a soft place in my heart for them, as well!)

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Beautiful cards – perfect for any occasion

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When the time came for me to leave, I received hugs all around, an adorable little pineapple air plant magnet (which I’m obsessed with and have on my refrigerator), and I made many promises to be back soon to see all of their Christmas displays.

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The gorgeous ladies of Luna (from left to right): Carly Barrett, Brittany Smith, Kammi Kuskowski, Tracy Robillard, and Sarah Smith (not pictured: Kelsey Kussman)

If you are ever in Dayton – or even the greater Dayton area – be sure to stop by Luna Gifts and Botanicals. I promise you won’t be disappointed! (And while you’re there, be sure to swing by Press next door for some of the best coffee you’ll ever have. I recommend the latte!)

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You can visit Luna at 261 Wayne Avenue, Dayton, Ohio, 45402. (Please note: parking is across the street!) Their hours of operation are Tuesday thru Thursday, 11:00 to 6:00; Friday and Saturday, 11:00 to 7:00; and Sunday, 12:00 to 5:00. If you go check them out, don’t forget to tell them the {house}plant momma sent you!

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To learn more about Luna…
Website: www.lunadayton.com
Instagram: @luna_gifts
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lunadayton/

Also, if you’re interested, to learn more about Luna’s sister store, Heart Mercantile…
Website: www.heartmercantile.com
Instagram: @heart_mercantile
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeartMercantile/

– the {house}plant momma

Fern: Where Dreams Create Magic

Many of the greatest things in life begin with a dream, and Megan Strasser, owner of Fern, is one of the best type of dreamers.  She’s the type of person who dreams big, works hard, and when her vision comes to life, it’s magic.

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Fern Storefront {6040 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45224}

That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of Fern: magic.  The moment I pulled open the door, I was met with bursts of green on each side.  Gorgeous natural light flooded through the large, garage-style doors on the front of the building, illuminating plants of every shape, size, and variety.  Handmade pots and other vessels lined the carefully arranged shelves.

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Look at that gorgeous lighting!

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I had the privilege of sitting down with Megan, who is truly one of the nicest people you could ever meet, to learn about her story and her experience with Fern.

Megan comes from a varied background – not necessarily specific to plants.  Before opening Fern, Megan started several other businesses.  Her first venture was a vintage clothing business; with this business, she hosted popup sales and maintained an Etsy store.  For her next endeavor, she took a 1960’s popup camper and converted it into a mobile coffee cart.  She has also dabbled in doing styling on the side for craft books and even did some food styling.

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Megan Strasser {owner}, in her element

In 2010, she left everything in Ohio and moved to Switzerland to be with her now-husband.  She left her coffee cart on her grandparents’ farm, not knowing if she would be back to resume her business or if life held something else for her.  She ended up staying in Switzerland and was married there.  Soon after, she and her husband welcomed a daughter into her new family.

Megan and her family returned to the States, and moved to Michigan where her son was born.  “I spent years not really working, and dreaming up what the next idea was going to be, because I have no shortage of dreams,” Megan says.

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While she was living in Michigan, the building that now houses Fern – which used to be a car wash – became available.  Megan’s parents lived next door, and therefore had a large interest in what business would move into the space.  Initially, Megan’s father rented the space and turned it into an art collective.  When the building went up for sale, Megan’s father was given first dibs on buying the building.

Megan says that she can remember specifically sitting in her living room in Michigan, nursing her son, dreaming of what would turn into Fern – a curated plant shop.  She says with a smile, “If I have an idea, I just do it.”

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I absolutely love this cactus, and am kicking myself for not bringing him home with me!

In May of 2013, Megan, her husband, and their children moved back to Cincinnati.  In September of that same year, Megan started Fern.  She began small by selling succulent gardens, terrariums, and a few handmade ceramics sourced from around the country at the City Flea (a curated urban flea market) in Cincinnati.

In May of 2014, Fern opened in its current space, albeit a smaller portion of the building.  Megan says the shop selection was super-sparse initially – just a few re-purposed shelves, a table from Ikea, and a vintage cart she found at an antique shop.  Also, Megan says that she did not have a lot of plants at first, but focused more on the type of designs that she had been creating for the City Flea. However, customers began to show more interest in the plants, so Megan quickly adapted her business to meet the demand.  Megan also continued focusing on artisan-made ceramics and vessels.

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Since opening, plants have become more and more trendy.  Megan says she is “riding the wave” of the plant trend, most of the time in disbelief at how her dream has taken off.  Fern was also featured in the book “Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants” as a favorite plant shop around the world.

Fern is a family business – which it’s clear that Megan takes great pride in.  Her dad built up the space.  Her children have been in the shop since it’s conception, and still help her shop for plants frequently. Megan and her brother partner on business endeavors, and he actually lives on the other side of the building.

Megan feels the point of her shop is to offer not only carefully cared-for and hand-selected plants, but that each of the ceramic vessels she sells is interesting and beautiful.  Each one is handmade by independent artists.  As you walk around the shop, you can see different placards by each display, explaining about the artist who created the pieces.  For Megan, the vessel is almost more important than the plant itself; she likes to treat each piece as if it is part of an art gallery.  When you see these pieces in your home, she feels you have a different connection to the item because you value the time and personal creativity that went into each piece.  This focus on beautiful, handcrafted pieces of art is one of the things that sets Fern apart from other plant stores and boutiques.

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Fern carries handmade ceramics by many different artists, such as this one by Kari Von Lehman.

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Fern sources its plants from two wholesalers who work with growers in Florida and California.  One of the biggest benefits of buying from a wholesaler is that they generally take the plants through an acclimation process before they are sold; this allows them to adapt more easily to life within a home or office instead of taking them directly from a greenhouse or grow-light environment, giving them a better chance of survival.  Each week, Megan hand selects each plant that comes into her store; she says that this is probably one of her favorite parts of owning Fern and makes her feel like a kid in a candy store.  (Her face completely lights up when she talks about this!)

I asked Megan if she had any helpful tips for plant owners.  She told about a great trick that I had never heard of!  If you have a plant that is crispy and looks like it’s on the way out, try submerging it in water.  Don’t just give it a good drink with a watering can, but actually dunk the whole plastic garden pot – being sure to cover the soil and roots – in water; let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Once that time is up, drain it well. A few may leaves may fall off or need trimmed back, but most of the time, this will revive your plant.  (Megan specified that this shouldn’t be done to succulents.)

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As I wrapped up my time at Fern, I did one more pass around the store and came across a gorgeous Hoya plant that has been on my wish list…and you know what happened next! (Apparently, I can’t visit a store without buying a new plant baby!)

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You can visit Fern at 6040 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45224.  Their hours of operation are Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 to 6:00.  If you go check them out, don’t forget to tell them the {house}plant momma sent you!

To learn more about Fern…
Website: https://www.fern-shop.com
Instagram: @fernshopcincinnati
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fernstudiocincinnati/

– the {house}plant momma

 

Eden Floral Boutique: A Cincinnati Oasis

The moment you walk into Eden Floral Boutique, you are transported. On all sides are plants of every variety – big, small, and in between; the greenness of it is simply delicious. Gorgeous leaf-clad wallpaper covers the back wall of the store. A flower bouquet bar boasts lovely pops of color. Seriously – this place is perfection.

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Eden Storefront {1129 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202}

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When I arrived at Eden, I was greeted by storeowner Kelly Dragoo and store manager Nola Lee. I had the privilege to sit down with them for a bit to learn about the origins of Eden, as well as their store today. As we talked, it was evident that they both love what they do, and both adore working with plants.

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Kelly Dragoo {owner} and Nola Lee {manager}

Located in Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine (OTR) district, Eden has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings. Owners Kelly Dragoo and Kelly Murphy met in 2008, and formed an instant friendship. Both Kelly’s were looking to do something new professionally, and decided to go into business together. They started what is now Eden Floral in Kelly Murphy’s basement. Initially, their business focused on creating floral arrangements for weddings, daily deliveries, and events.

As their business grew, they searched for a building they could buy to expand their business. In 2009, they found their current building and set up shop. For the next seven years, they operated by appointment only, as OTR was not the booming area it is today. The business continued to revolve around floral arrangements.

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However, OTR has grown quite a bit across the last few years – thanks, in part, to expanded housing, more shopping and businesses, and increased foot traffic in the area. In June of 2016, Kelly and Kelly knew it was time to expand yet again and open the doors as a storefront. In addition to floral arrangements, they now offer a variety of houseplants, pots, and planters. They offer a small selection of gardening tools and home décor, as well.

Kelly views working with plants and flowers as an art form. That’s why manager Nola – whose degree is in fine arts – was a perfect fit for joining the store family. Not only does she have a natural green thumb, but she has an eye for the beautiful.

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A beautiful flower bar is set up each day so you can create your own hand-selected bouquets.

Eden’s main goal is to not just make a sale, but to inspire their customers and equip them with the knowledge it will take to keep the plant alive. Specifically, they want to ensure that their customers know the correct light and amount of water required so that they don’t kill their plant. This is achieved not only through maintaining a very knowledgeable staff (seriously – you can ask them anything!), but also through the use of little “care cards” that come with every plant. These helpful resources make it easy – even for those with a brown thumb – to have a successful houseplant experience.

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Care cards come with each plant, making your experience once you get home {hopefully} more successful!

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Houseplants are becoming a hugely trendy home décor item. If you open almost any décor catalog or peruse décor pins on Pinterest, you’re bound to see plants everywhere. In fact, Kelly said that her plant supplier told her there hasn’t been a demand for plants like this since the 70’s! Also, Kelly believes that our culture’s increased interest in a health-conscious lifestyle – yoga, organic living, etc. – has made people more interested in improving the air quality in their home by keeping houseplants.

All of Eden’s inventory is handpicked from a wholesale plant market. This enables them to check the soil and ensure that the foliage is healthy. If the plant doesn’t meet their expectations, they won’t sell it in their store. The Eden staff is always looking for new varieties to carry in their stores; in fact, the day I visited, Nola found three new varieties at the wholesaler – which was clearly exciting to everyone!

I asked Kelly and Nola what their best advice would be for someone just beginning with plants. Nola responded, “I would look at your space at certain times. So like in the morning, what kind of light do I have? In the afternoon, what kind of light? At night, what kind of light, or in the evening? Consult your space and also where you want to put things. And then you can come into a shop like this, because the first question I’m going to ask you is what kind of light do you have and where do you want to put [your plant].”

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“The other question, too, is to think about your pets. ‘Do you have curious cats? Do you have a dog that wants to munch on things?’ That’s something I’m going to ask you next… Also, if you have young children, you don’t want toddlers going up and biting on some plants.”

Nola continued, “I guess the third one would be, ‘How much effort do you want to put in to it? Do you want a plant that you don’t really have to worry about? Do you travel?’ It’s like, ‘do I want something a little more complicated with a bigger outcome or invest less time?’”

Kelly added, “I always think, too, go small. Start with a six-inch pot at the biggest and see how you do with it. Don’t go buy a $125 plant because that’s an investment and a lot of time! Start small and then go bigger.”

Once I was done chatting with Kelly and Nola, I spent some time exploring their beautiful store. Not only do they carry plants of every type, but they also have pots and planters and very size and shape. Eden also features local artists work – both wall art and pottery. It is evident that every piece is carefully hand-picked and arranged into lovely displays.

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There are so many fun pieces available at Eden.

Eden carries many different plant varieties – many which are on my current wish list! I kept telling Nola, “You have this plant that I’ve been dying for!” However, as I was wrapping up my visit at Eden, I stumbled across a Snake Plant in a variety I have been searching for, called “Moonshine.” I absolutely couldn’t leave without it…so I didn’t.

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Me – the {house}plant momma – proudly holding my new plant baby!

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If you are ever visiting Cincinnati, you simply must visit Eden Floral Boutique – a true Cincinnati oasis! They are located at 1129 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202, and are open Tuesday thru Thurs from 11:00-3:00, and Friday and Saturday from 11:00-5:00. If you visit, be sure to tell them that the {house}plant momma sent you!

To learn more about Eden Floral…
Website: http://www.edenfloralboutique.com
Instagram: @edenfloral
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/edenfloralboutiques/

– the {house}plant momma