Jillian Taylor Nogueira loves plants, and she was itching to talk about them with likeminded geeks. So last summer, she decided to create a platform for her passion.
She founded a Facebook group, the Denver Plant Pals. Gradually, she said, membership grew and grew. Flora fans from Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction flocked to the page. By December, it was clear the group needed to be renamed. It became the Colorado Plant Pals. Today, there are more than 2,200 members.
While Nogueira hesitates to name which of her own plants is her favorite — she loves them all — many Pals submitted theirs. They range from monstera to hoyas to succulents and creepers. Philodendrons were well represented in the bunch.
Summer Crosbie said she loves her Chinese money plant: “It’s a perfect addition to my kitchen and makes me happy when doing the dishes!”
Rose Ludwig picked her Hindu rope hoya: “While I find it an easy keeper, many people don’t. So I’m pretty proud of this wonderful curly octopus!”
And Jessie Phillips Rodibaugh prefers her fiddle leaf fig: “His name is Fitzherbert. He’s ginormous and finicky. I love him because I have not killed him, yet. It’s been over two years, but I don’t take his living for granted.”
The group is a place where people can gush about their adored cultivars. It’s where they ask questions and seek advice about growing in Colorado’s arid climate. Before the pandemic, they met at least once a month, swapping clippings and celebrating their love for all things with roots and stems.
Now that everyone is stuck at home, Nogueira said, they meet online. She hosted a cannabis growing workshop for 4/20, and she has a “virtual repotting party” planned for May.
Prior to social distancing, Nogueira would have discouraged sales on the page — it was never meant for commerce. But she’s opened the door to some of that, since so many people have found themselves in difficult financial times. Some of her members are part-time plant dealers on the side, and she wants the Plant Pals to offer some source of relief, if they can.
“There’s definitely a deep, incredible sense of community that has come out of it,” she said.
Nogueira found herself in landscaping, too. She’s worked in hotels for a long time, but she said Wednesday that she’d just finished her first day at a new job: assistant manager at O’Toole’s Garden Center.
“It’s great, I can work with plants all day,” she said. “It’s just plants and the community, which is basically all I do anyway.”
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