“People come in and they say, oops, you TRUE Houseplant expert Christopher Griffin laughs. plant queenThey live in a colorful Brooklyn apartment with more than 225 “green girls,” but each plant is strategically placed so the space feels airy rather than crowded. It feels good. Let’s take a peek inside…
In a sweet-smelling house: My apartment feels like a lush rainforest. Whenever the plants bloom, my space is filled with fragrance. Plants release moisture into the air, so watering them increases the humidity in the apartment. In fact, recently a friend told me that my apartment had condensation. And I, okay, I love it.
About the source material: When I was little, my grandmother instilled in me a love of gardening. She grew up on a family farm in Georgia where she grew her own food. When she brought her first houseplant home— marble queen pothos — Seven years ago, I found it so beautiful to take care of her tenderly and lovingly and watch her grow. And that one relationship sparked this adventure.
About meaningful decoration: Each plant is associated with a memory. Here are some things I picked up on my travels. Or maybe it was just a beautiful day. Come on, let’s get a plant that will leave memories of this dayWe wouldn’t call the process of bringing plants into your home “decorating.” Instead, we think of ourselves as writing love letters to our past, present, and future selves.
About family acceptance: My neon “love” sign is a constant reminder that my journey began with love. Thanks to my family, I exist in my own way. Their love has given me the freedom to experiment with how I want to appear in this world. There is a poem by Maya Angelou called “”.love liberates’ and modified it to read for my mother’s funeral in September 2020.
When going outside: In addition to plant queen, I lead diversity work at a technology company. My job is remote, so I try to get outside every day to cycle through Prospect’s park or walk to his Brooklyn promenade to watch the sunset.
About Meditative Gardening: I need time to be alone every day.I put down my phone and my laptop and look at the plants. let’s see what’s going onI like the term ‘meditative gardening’.
On staying curious: There is no such thing as a “green thumb”. I don’t think there is any inherent skill required to take care of plants. It just takes time and curiosity. The biggest tip I would give to people wanting to start this botanical journey is to do an environmental assessment of the space you plan to green. What are the average temperature and humidity levels? What direction do your windows face? How much sunlight does it get? Then you can figure out which plants thrive there.
About plant shopping: Arrive at your local plant store, Green Place, and when the green girl catches your eye, ask one of the fab people who work there if they can provide her with the perfect environment. Find a pot that is at least 2 inches larger than the nursery pot. She needs room to grow, honey. She may also go through periods of stress as she adjusts to her new home, so be patient with her.
Tips for sharing: i wrote my book You grow, girl!helps make plant care accessible and fun for people. It’s a playful, campy and colorful window into life with plants.
About lessons learned: It is important to give yourself grace. I’ve killed a lot of plants so it’s been a process of taking notes and learning from those mistakes. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again.
About Self Care: Like plants, they need water, sunlight, nutrients, and room to grow.But you can’t always water yourselfI have a community of loved ones, including given and chosen ones, and I am learning that it is okay to rely on them. And finally, my green girl is a constant reminder to keep growing.
For morning sunshine: My apartment has 5 south-facing windows and lots of natural light. I always get a little chuckle when people don’t know which way the windows are facing. For me, sensing how sunlight enters a space is essential. It’s important not only for my plants but also for my body.
pennant: Rayo & Honey.
About creating a sanctuary: I have a really deep relationship with this apartment. I am very intentional about what and who I invite to my home. Being black, queer, and nonbinary in this world unconditionally is a beautiful thing, but unfortunately it can also be very dangerous. I don’t know how I’m going to be perceived when I walk out the door knowing that it’s been in the U.S. state legislatures and that most of those bills are anti-transgender laws. For me, home should be a place of rest, rejuvenation and healing. I had to create a sacred space to return home so I could return to the world the next day.
About family photos: This photo of my mom, dad, and me is literally my favorite photo. If there was a fire in my apartment, it would be the first thing I would save.
About the life-changing book: On top of my stack of books is all about love by bell hooks — I think the world would be a better place if people’s actions were rooted in love. As a non-binary person, I have to think about how I fit into that. So that’s what I’m spending my time on.Also a book to read you for filth.Damn, maybe when you like I I’m the problem, you know it’s a good book! Zami: a new spelling of my nameIt’s about someone going through life trying to figure out who she is and trying to understand that there are so many intersections in her identity. I realize that is inside me.
Thank you for sharing your space with us, Christopher! we love you.
PS More House Tour, including Latona Yvette’s colorful farmhouse and Copenhagen’s book-filled house.
(Photo courtesy: Christine Han for Cup of Joe)
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