Featured Image Credit: Heather Dalgleish
In rare occasions, life brings us the opportunities we never expected will be in front of us. You find a place where you want to let your roots grow. Where you feel safe, where you feel you can be you, and after rooting – everything blooms. A good start is key to every project, but sometimes the best is yet to come. And things come when you don’t expect them.
Glasgow Plant mama found her place in Glasgow. Many attempts at how to make a living. A lot of moving around. She couldn’t keep her plants anywhere because what if she had to move? What would she do with them? She gave away most of them, but then she found Glasgow. “Nature has always been there, and it has always been a big part of my life,” she says. Her passion for plants started when she lived in the States, where her mum had a conservatory full of plants. Her eyesight suddenly turns up, and I can almost see the conservatory myself as she stares into the wall.
I visited her thriving jungle in Dennistoun in a very cold but very sunny December morning. She welcomed me with the same kind smile she welcomed me any other time I had been to her shop. Perhaps her facemask did not let me see her smiling, but I definitely knew she was. Velvet green, or perhaps blue, facemask. A soft landing into an overwhelming world of botanical wonders. It was the middle of the day. Like any other business, she had clients coming in. In this particular case, it was a couple who were looking for some plants for their home. I waited for her to finish her sale.
The same kind smile and the same warm welcome. They had multiple locations in mind, and they had done a thorough examination of lighting and space. Plant mama had answers to all their questions. A minute description of every item they enquired as if she knew her plants on a personal level. Not only a minute description but also, in my opinion, a wonderful taste for interior design. She knows the spaces, listens to people. She will always find a perfect fit for anyone. No matter how much sunshine your window gets, no matter how big of a space, no matter the budget.
The couple had so many requests I had long ago lost track of what they had asked for in the first place. But she knew. She went through all the options with the patience of someone who genuinely wants you to find the perfect plant for that exact spot you’ve got in mind. She remembered everything. After exposing many options for every particular request, choices were made. But paying wasn’t the end. “They all have what I like to call Plant Mama warranty; just give me a message if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to help,” she said. Imagine not only buying a plant, but also professional help in case you need it. I know I would. She hands them the card reader. One of those minimalistic white squares that connect to some kind of electronic device. “I feel like a proper business now, I have my own card reader and all.”
I suppose it is the small things that make you realise what your reality is. Something as common and as irrelevant as a card machine. Truth is, she’s always been what she calls herself “a crazy plant lady”. Never imagined her plants will allow her to make a living. “And now I’m a full-time plant mama” she proudly and happily recognises. Always trying to make ends meet, as everybody does, she recently found a way to make a living out of her passion. And I’m very sure how much she knows, and how much she cares, has a lot to do with her success. As the couple left, she presses her hands against the glass door. Almost farewelling her friends. And by her friends, I mean the plants. I asked if she felt sad every time someone bought one of her plants, and she said yes. “Particularly the big ones, they’ve been with me for longer, so I grow a personal attachment to them”. The sadness in her eyes almost disappears when she starts telling me how she grew her plants.
Almost every single plant in her shop has been grown by her. The majority of them come from cuttings. I couldn’t help but being curious about how many plants she has at home. After managing to open a plant-shop out of what you’ve grown yourself, I guessed the number wouldn’t be small. And it isn’t. “If I’m being conservative, probably around 500”. Imagine having 500 plants in your house! She has less now because some have been moved to the shop, but she recognises there is still a lot of them.
The business idea came actually from her partner. Having to jump over plants to get into the shower and smashing your head against plant pots in the wall. That’s not a very pleasant experience, I imagine as she tells me the story. They decided it was time to let some of them go. At this time, the world was already living through a world pandemic, so Plant mama wasn’t going to work. “I was in furlough, so I had a lot more time to dedicate to the things I really cared about, and relax because I could still make ends meet, and I know it’s bad to say but it made me unbelievably happy”. And that’s how Plant Mama was born.
Her first plant pop-up was back in July in her house. “There were people queuing outside my garage from half an hour before we opened until way after we closed.” Connections were made. And the business bloomed. She thanks Glasgow for the opportunity. “I think people here really care about supporting local businesses, you wouldn’t find this atmosphere anywhere else”. The jungle in Dennistoun has been open for less than a month, and I only wish it will stay for much much longer. “I had the feeling I had support, and that made me believe I could do it,” she says.
What is the worst mistake people make with their plants? I asked. She hesitated for a little bit. Too many tips came into her head. Too many things she wanted to say. But she chose “overloving their plants” above all else. Her description of “overloving” is a sugar-coated synonym of overwatering it or worrying too much. “Plants are made to survive; they don’t need us as much as we think. Sometimes you just need to let them do their thing.” However, before you let yours die, I would message her just in case. She would be devastated to know one of her plants was killed and she couldn’t do anything about it.
If you’re lost on what to get for Christmas, support Plant Mama. Give those who have fought for it, the opportunity to bloom, and to thrive. She assures the biggest personal attachments to plants have nothing to do with which one is the biggest or the most expensive. So, if you wish to find a little rooty friend, I would definitely visit Glasgow’s Plant Mama. I doubt you’ll find plants grown with such care in many other places. But do remember; don’t over-water them. They like their independence.