Philly plant exchange
and then there were plants…
I’ve always had an affinity for plants since I can remember. When I was a little girl, my mom and I would build a garden every summer. We’d go to the local plant nursery and she’d let me pick a few of my favorite plants. I’d usually grab a few petunias, tomatoes, strawberries, and always a fennel plant to attract butterflies. Once we got home, I would spend hours in the backyard digging plots for my new plants so they could grow.
Fast-forward a few years... While attending grad school in Florida, I reconnected with my affinity for plants my second year. One of my fellow grads had quite an amazing succulent collection and I was hooked. I found a craigslist ad titled “FREE PLANTS,” and the next day, my roommate drove with me to somebody’s house in the middle of the woods. I was gifted with tons and tons of lilies (daylilies, ginger lilies, and pinecone lilies to name a few), a few tiny baby century plants, soap aloe, etc.… I got so many plants that it filled my car’s hatch so much that we had to put the seats down to fit everything. Since then I have never gone a day without plants. Within a couple of years I had over 50 potted plants that lived on my porch.
That same year of grad school I took an undergraduate large format photography course as a graduate elective. We were assigned a project to photograph faculty around campus that were part of a “plant club.” I really enjoyed the project and made a really great photograph that was shown in an exhibition at the FSU Museum of Art. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time and really just saw the assignment as an excuse to use a large format camera.
Fast-forward a few more years and now I live in the city. The transition was a difficult one. I was forced to shrink my plant collection down to a few. My loquat tree, the mother of all soap aloes, half of my paddle plants, a century plant, and a few others now reside happily in the ground in Sarasota. The rest I had to give away to my neighbors. I had a 10ft rubber tree named Bertha that was gifted to me… it went to a neighbor in Levy Park (after getting some cuttings of course) … Anyway, I think what I’m getting to is that I was the only person I knew in town that had so many plants. My friends told me I was crazy, and it was even crazier that I filled my boyfriend’s Tacoma bed with 15 plants that I refused to get rid of.
And then I found the Philly Plant Exchange. I figured I’d join so that I could read what other people have to say about their plants… but I didn’t realize that there were others that were just as crazy as I am. I think the thing that amazes me most about the folks in the group is that despite the fact that Philadelphia has these tiny row-homes, people FILL them up with plants. Seriously, I’ve read some posts talking about routinely watering 300 plants that live inside row-homes. It just absolutely blew my mind. After scrolling through posts with images and people talking about the type of plants they have, and the plants they trade, etc. I started thinking more and more about the project I did in grad school with the FSU faculty that had plants in their offices. So one day on a whim (with permission from the Philly Plant Exchange’s admins) I posted a comment asking if anyone would be interested in being photographed with a large format camera in their homes with their plants…
And thus the plant portrait project began.
This is a current and ongoing project. I will be adding a collection of imagery as the photographs come available. If you’re interested in the project please feel free to reach out via my contact page.