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Sub-Region: Southern California
State: California
Business: Owner/Educator: ArtPlantae - Botany & Botanical Art Education

Biographical Information

I own and manage ArtPlantae, a resource provider dedicated to botany and botanical art education.  I have an Interdisciplinary Studies masters degree (Biology & Student Learning) and taught college biology for five years before discovering the world of botanical illustration. Actually, I already had botanical art all around me. I didn't realize it myself until I took my first illustration class. I am the former editor of the "Southern California Botanical Artist" and "Artist's Botany". I am hopelessly drawn to the challenge of growing plants on my campsite in suburbia.

Please tell us about your gardening related business.

ArtPlantae's objective is to improve botanical literacy and encourage an interest in plants through illustration. ArtPlantae exists because I heard stamen referred to as "these thingys" one too many times. I have learned to appreciate that one does not really see an object until it is drawn. I hope to nudge people into seeing plants in a new way.

Tania Marien's

Read Tania's interview
with the author here.

Please tell us briefly about your favorite cause/business/product in which you are involved that you would like to share with the general public and why.

My favorite garden-related business product is "Bookmark Notes" a product I created because I was fed up with the scraps of paper I was stuffing into my gardening books, apron, and seed box. Bookmark Notes are double-sided bookmarks. One side is labeled "Plant Notes" and this is where gardeners can write the family, genus, species, and variety name of a plant. They can also write down where they observed the plant or where the plant was purchased. The other side of the bookmark is labeled "Bookmark Notes". On this side, gardeners can jot down information about a reference they have consulted about their plant. This side of the bookmark has fill-in entries that apply to both books and journals. These bookmarks can be viewed at ArtPlantae Books.

Where can members get more of your advice?
Members of TheMulch.com can read more at the blog at ArtPlantae.com.

Background Information

Briefly describe the climate where you garden now (climate zone, state, area) and any other areas where you have gardened in the past.
USDA Zone 9, 10. Southern California (Riverside)

How long have you been gardening?
20 years

What triggered your interest?
I don’t know if it was ever really "triggered". Plants have always been present in my life. My dad has grown orchids and has been active in bonsai most of my life. The largest surge in activity came when I purchased my home.

What is your specialty, expertise or claim to fame?
Tinkering with recipes to create the most healthful cookies, muffins, cakes, etc. I can possibly create. After this, as far as the family is concerned, it is probably baking berry pies. May/June is pie season around here.

What formal education do you have?
Bachelors degree (Biology); Interdisciplinary Studies masters degree (Biology & Student Learning)

What formal horticultural training do you have?

None. It has been trial-and-error, "Oops!" and "Oh, I get it…"

What is your favorite garden or plant-related topic? Tell us a little about them.
I like economic botany. Of all the botany classes I completed as an undergrad and graduate student, it was the non-majors elective class I sat in for fun when I was writing my thesis that really got to me. I was there because it was a class that one of my major professors taught once-in-a-blue-moon. This class was called "Plants & Man".

What is your biggest gardening pet peeve? Tell us about it.
Boring nursery stock at the major chain stores.

How much time per week do you spend gardening?
Not a lot these days. I used to be out there every week. My new adventures in permaculture will get me back out on a regular basis.

How much time per week do you spend working at the business of gardening, such as consulting, reading, writing or talking about your gardening subject?
Not a lot these days. I used to plan things out on paper by March and have my books and seed catalogs out often.

What gardening or horticultural clubs, societies, or organizations (or any other interest) do you belong to?

I am a member of the San Diego Horticultural Society.

Gardening Questions

What do you like most about gardening?
Gardening has always served as a humbling life lesson for me. The lesson is: "Nothing happens unless you make it happen."

What do you dislike most about gardening?
The ants crawling all over my large sunflowers and the thorns on my berry bushes.

What individual has influenced your gardening interest the most? How?
My dad. He can grow anything. His enthusiasm for plant shows is infectious and entertaining.

What is your favorite place or activity in the garden?
Hands down it is standing next to the berry bushes and eating the first "berry lunch" of the year.

What is your favorite time in the garden?
The morning. Plants are good company.

What is your favorite public or private garden in the world? Why?
I haven't seen all the public and private gardens I would like to see to be able to answer this question. I am fond of the Fullerton Arboretum because I spent a lot of time there during grad school. I have a soft spot for the L.A. Arboretum & Botanic Garden for lots of reasons. Ask me again when I'm 100.

What is your favorite color in the garden?

If you could grow only one plant, what would it be?
Amorphophallus titanum. I love this plant. I have three T-shirts from different blooming events. I have yet to catch its odor at its peak.

What plant have you tried to grow that has given you the most trouble? Or, what plant would you like to grow and can't, and why?
Peonies. It's the 600 hours of cold I can't seem to recreate out here in Riverside.

What is your favorite gardening outfit or costume?
My straw hat and apron.

Do you have a gardening philosophy you would like to share with other gardeners? What is it?
Nothing happens unless you make it happen.

Who is your own favorite gardening personality on TV, radio or in print? Why?
I don't really have one. I do not watch a lot of TV.  All gardening shows catch my attention when I see them, though.

What is the one question about gardening you would really like people to ask you?
Where did you get your berry pie recipe?

And what's the answer?
The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook (1980)

What is a garden myth you hear frequently which you know is untrue?
This is far from mainstream and comes from my Indonesian grandmother. When I moved into my house, she told me that if I plant lemon grass underneath the kitchen window, I will get pregnant.

And, what is the reality?
Of course I had to demonstrate otherwise.

What group or kind of person do you think would benefit most from the advice you can give on gardening?
I don't have gardening advice. I share many different ways to think about and to see plants. Go to ArtPlantae.com to see the herbarium, blog, and bookstore for examples. Who might enjoy this information? All gardeners, especially those who keep a gardening journal.

Would you like to participate, or can you recommend someone who you think should? We're always looking for more expert gardeners to tell about their philosophies and give their plant recommendations contact us and we'll get started (it's easy and a great way to promote yourself).

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