Tessa Watson’s Tea Garden
Tessa Watson, freelance photo stylist & art director from Oakland California, is mad about plants and tea. So mad, in fact, she recently made a tea garden – transforming her backyard into a sea of chamomile and calendula. She’s still drinking it, as are her friends. What a thrifty idea! We caught up with Tessa to find out more about her garden, her dirty nails and her life with plants.
Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, and your life with plants? I am a freelance photo stylist and art director based in Oakland, California. Last year I lived in a house with a huge garden and decided to grow a field of tea flowers that I could dry and give to friends and family for the holidays. I went with a few varieties of camomile and calendula. With the help of friends I cleared a 15’x7’ (approx 5x2m) area of weeds, added new soil and scorched the ground with a blow torch to keep away any crab grass seeds. We mixed the seeds with soil, scattered them, watered and waited.
The tea garden was a huge success and my friends and I are still drinking the tea today!”
What’s getting under your nails right now? Potting mix! I have been doing a lot of photoshoots with plants lately and have been able to keep many of them afterward, filling my store front studio with them. I am learning a lot about indoor plants for the first time.
What story would your hands tell us about you? That they are work horses.
When I was little, one of my grandmother’s friends told me that I had the hands of a potato farmer – I am really living up to that predictive description!”
What are you growing right now? My latest plant obsession is taking cactus clippings from friends and propagating them. I love the idea of my plants coming from a lineage of friends.
What are your top three thrifty gardening tips? Taking clippings from friends, getting compost soil for free from the city (of Berkeley), and a watering calendar.
What did you learn from your grandmother about gardening? From both of my grandmothers I learned the quiet and meditative satisfaction of weeding.
Tell us something about gardening we can’t find in a reference book. Plants and a personal relationship can turn anywhere you live into a home.
Have you killed any plants recently? I’m currently in a losing battle with a colony of ants over possession of one of my plants. I am still holding out hope though.
What draws you to gardening? Seeing proof of time and growth.
If you were a plant, what would you be? A wild and over grown garden rose bush – big blooms and hidden thorns.