Tessa Watson’s Tea Garden

Words by
Georgina Reid
| September 5, 2017

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.

Tessa Watson is a freelance photo stylist and art director in Oakland, California. To find out more about Tessa and her tea garden visit her WEBSITE and INSTAGRAM.


LIKE WHAT YOU'RE READING? SIGN UP FOR MORE