Gardening during the pandemic: shop local!
As Spring slowly unfolds and most of us remain homebound, some South Philadelphians are seeking solace in greening their homes and yards. While rowhouse dwellers have limited outdoor and window space, there are still ways to connect with your green thumb: houseplants, window boxes, and container gardening to name a few. But where do you go for inspiration, and more importantly, supplies, with a stay-at-home order in place? Here are a few locally-owned options…
Garden centers are currently not allowed to maintain in-person operations, but they can offer curbside pickup and delivery if they sell life-sustaining plants that produce food. That prompted the owners of Urban Jungle, Curt and Tara Alexander, to apply for a waiver based on their sale of vegetable plants. The shop was permitted to reopen, but they needed to make some changes.
First, they created an online store with the assistance of their creative director, Sue Eggen. Eggen’s “Window Shop” presents the store’s inventory through “curated vignettes” on Instagram–a picture of each item, along with the price and description. Customers can DM the store and pay using Venmo.
In addition to the virtual shop, you can also truly window shop. Eggen noted, “The garage door in the front of the store is made up of individual windows, so you can actually see everything for sale safely behind the glass, if you’re walking by”.
In addition to the items on Urban Jungle’s Instagram, they are offering flats of herbs, vegetables, and flowers on Urban Jungle Shop for curbside pickup or delivery. You can also call them at 215-952-0811 or email them at email@example.com to order any items not listed on their website.
Myrtle & Magnolia Designs
Another business which needed to shift its focus was Myrtle & Magnolia Designs, which had mainly designed planters for restaurants and hotels and floral arrangements for weddings. Once the stay-at-home order was put in place, restaurants closed and upcoming weddings were either postponed or cancelled. Owner Krissy de Groot said, “We were out of work and lost thousands in revenue in a span of 3 days.”
To keep her business afloat she decided to start making DIY plant trays. De Groot emphasized that every purchase is helping three local small businesses: her suppliers Peace Tree Farm and Harmony Hill Nursery; and Jig-Bee Flower Farm which rents space to make the trays. Her employees are now working as delivery drivers.
Myrtle & Magnolia is currently offering a “Spring Flower Tray with spring perennials such as Columbine, Schizianthus, Lobularia, and Echinacea complemented with Carex Grass and Huecher, moss and decorative natural sticks”. A full tray is $90, and a half tray is $50. For more details on ordering this and upcoming offerings, please follow them on Instagram @myrtlemagnolia.
Philly Plant Guy
There’s another outlet where plant lovers can connect with others while remaining quarantined: Facebook groups. Philly Plant Guy is a popular local special-interest Facebook group. The group has over 2,500 members who post pictures of their plants and ask for advice on gardening. The group was formed in 2017 as an offshoot of the Facebook group South Silly. Nakia Maples, a union theater stagehand and volunteer for Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, acts as moderator for the group along with Donna Williams.
Maples has over 350 plants in his home. He calls it a “whole universe of plants to take care of” which keep him “extremely busy.” He has been spending his time “trying to come up with unique ways to…use horticulture to bring some sort of joy in a time where it’s hard to find any”. He has a small balcony facing the street that he fills with plants. He hopes that it will “brighten people’s day” as they walk by. Filled with optimism, Maples concludes, “We’re plant people and plant people are just like weeds. Sometimes we get mowed over by things like COVID-19, but just like weeds, we always grow back.”