Homage to the House Plant (and those who grow them): Christy Smith

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer

My mother always had lots of houseplants. It was one of my jobs, too, as a child, that she would give me a damp cloth to clean the leaves of her plants. So that was one of my jobs as a child to keep my hands busy was cleaning her plants. So I guess I’ve always had them around.

The peacefulness of it and nature [drew me to horticulture], being able to be hands-on, touching plants and soil, dirt, being outside. … I just find comfort with that exchange of interaction with plants. I do, I feel like there’s an exchange of energy that kind of soothes the soul.

I love being the first one to walk in the door, too, after it’s been closed up all night, the [plant] shop — it gives me that ‘ahhh’ feeling. And you know, throughout the years, I’ve had my ups and downs, and there’s been those days where it’s hard to get up and go, and I know as soon as I do, just get up and go touch the plants. They’re kind of like our babies.

You’re looking at the same plants and touching them and interacting with them week to week, so you notice the change in them. It becomes like a trained mind thing. … It becomes just out of nature, a habit. You can tell what’s happened around a plant in a public environment. You can almost know what’s been going on around it by just observing what’s going on with the plant.

I have a public place where I take care of the plants. … I can tell if somebody’s been pouring soda in the plant. … It affects the color of the leaves and things like that and the acidity of the soil. You can start noticing the different patterns of what’s happening. Trash being thrown in it, or just people knocking into it.

Sometimes, [when I talk to a plant, I’m] like, ‘It’ll be OK.’ Or sometimes, it’s like, ‘OK now, you can get better.’

It’s all about the plants, to be honest. I’m not financially that successful, but in the other ways, it’s kind of — I don’t know how to say this — like, it’s not in my pocketbook, it’s in my soul. As far as that goes. So, it makes me happy, doing something I love doing.