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  • Jennifer Jewell


“Excerpted from Decorating with Plants by Baylor Chapman (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Aubrie Pick.” All Rights Reserved


Baylor Chapman loves plants and she’s spent a good part of her career helping people to learn about, see, love and care for plants wherever people might need them – in their homes, offices, work spaces, apartments. She believes they make us healthier, happier, better people and I agree. As students return to dorms and workers return to offices post summer –

Baylor joins Cultivating Place this week to encourage us to tend toward more green.

Last week, as a back to school special of the academic variety, we spoke with Lauren E. Oakes about the writing of her book, In Search of the Canary Tree, the Book in Common here in Chico, California, this week we have a home and garden variety special for all of those students who might be moving into dorms or apartments, workers returning to offices, or even those of us who might be using this seasonal interface to relocate.

For wherever you might be headed, and thinking about ways to make your space more like home, this week we’re speaking with Baylor from her urban home and houseplant oasis in San Francisco's Mission District. Baylor is the founder and principle of Lila B Design, whose motto is "we love designing with plants, teaching how to arrange them, and transforming spaces with them." Baylor is also the author of several books the first of which was "The Plant Recipe Book" (Artisan, 2014), and the most recent of which is "Decorating With Plants: what to choose, ways to style, and how to make them thrive" (Artisan Books, 2019).

"We have these relationships with our plants - they talk to us, they really do."

Baylor Chapman, Lila B. Design

Baylor's mission is to help us all – but perhaps most specifically urban small space dwellers get more green into their lives. She writes : Every day I am inspired by the raw beauty of nature, and constantly think about ways of how to bring it into my home — and yours. I believe that nature is handsome more than pretty, and am always searching for an unexpected definition of beautiful.”

In our discussion, Baylor and I discuss the many ways that green living plants can improve our interiorscapes. Baylor also describes different ways to think about plants - as help with room division, view framing, sound abatement, and the dreaded fear of being a plant killer. She finished up by walking us through some specific plants for specific conditions, how to source your plants, and what to look for in a healthy plant.

Follow Baylor's work at the Lila B Design website and at their Instagram feed: lilabdesign/#

Join us again next week when we begin a two episode series on plant-based memoirs – the first with Dean Kuipers, author of "The Deer Camp" (2019) – a memoir recounting how restoring a piece of land with his father and his brothers also restored their family bonds and abiding love.



Thinking out Loud this week...


My ears really perked up when Baylor mentioned she had studied anthropology, as well as landscape design, and garden design.

Think how much information is contained in the history of our relationship to plants, and the land, how we related to our spaces in general – inside and out?

What was it the the English Writer Poet and gardener Alfred Austin said? "Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.” It makes me walk around my garden now in late September and laugh a little – I am very clearly late summer and waiting for the cooler days, the longer nights, and some rain, my garden tells me.

Ahhh, but it also tells me that I am a gardener – and a loving one at that. And does it really get much better than that?

What about you? What are you when you look at your plants and garden in this way?

I may not have a great or profoundly enthusiastic track record with houseplants, but I am a mild and new convert to the idea.

Since our last houseplant episode a few years back, I’ve become quite fond of my handful and I do engage with them – the African violet, the five or so begonias, the ivy, the several pelaragoniums, which I do walk by and pinch daily (I hope that's not mean, I hope it's like when you brush your child's hair with your hand in passing?)

And the 1989 NASA study, conducted by Bill Wolverton, is pretty conclusive in its evidence for plants helping to detoxify the air, most of the questions about the study have to do with the fact that the space in which the study was conducted – as you might imagine was an airtight and sealed space – and there’s been little conclusive evidence or studies to correlate the effectiveness of plants on cleaning the air in a normal house for instance in which the air is being exchanged on a regular basis with the outside…..

Soooo - my take away lesson from this is – get more plants, care for them without the use of more toxins, AND get outside daily.

Fresh air helps everything. So do plants. Make sure to get you daily dose of both.




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