This month we begin focusing on gardening and horticulture. To kick-off, we interviewed Logan Castagno, a Interior Plant Consultant with Southern Botanical.
Growing up in Idaho, Logan learned from her dad’s multifaceted passion and love of gardening. She speculates that his love of sharing things he’s grown with others and pushing the limits of what can grow in Southeast Idaho contributes to his love of gardening. Planting, weeding, harvesting, and processing food from their large family garden was a way of life--which also means originally a household chore. But becoming familiar with plants was the first step.
In high school, Logan took a class where she was immersed in the wooded nature areas and fell in love with it. Her high school teacher was passionate about identifying plants, and his enthusiasm rubbed off on Logan. From there her passion only grew. Logan continued to Brigham Young University - Idaho where she competed at a collegiate level in the National Collegiate Landscape Competition in 2016 and 2017. While on BYU-I’s team, she won National Champion in Indoor Plant Identification (2016) and fourth place in the Annual & Perennial Plant Identification (2016).
After graduating from BYU-I in July 2017, she took a job with SSC TAMU where she worked to maintain the trees on campus as well as optimize their care. Her friends suggested that with her free time she develop an Instagram presence to highlight her passion and plants. “I wasn’t sure of the idea because I didn’t know if people would end up caring about what I had to say about plants!” From there Golden Greenery was born. In her words, it became a scrapbook-feeling Instagram “to educate, make new friends, document my personal projects, and be a place where I could be more raw with people.”
In particular, you can notice her prized ferns strewn across her feed (which are among her favorite plants). Enthusiastically, Logan shared: “I love ferns because there are so many varieties and they are all so unique. I have loved collecting them the past few years.” Other treasured plants included lilacs, zz plants, and maples. Although she admittedly will make arrangements from whatever grows in the yard, two of her favorite flowers are peony and zinnia because of their bright, happy pink and purple colors.
Although she can’t narrow down a particular horticultural experience as a favorite, Logan loves to plug in some earbuds and “get lost in my plants, transplanting, watering, trimming, arranging, and getting to know my plants.” Her enthusiasm of understanding her personal plants involve every aspect of gardening: knees in the moist soil, heat of the sun on your neck, sweet smelling flowers in the air, working hard to create something even more beautiful. “There I feel a lot of peace when I spend quality time with my plants.” Seeing each bud blossom into flowers, watching the leaves fully emerge--each achievement of the plant’s life is a moment to capture.
Her love for plants are rooted deeper than the garden itself. Just like her father before her, Logan enjoys sharing her self-sufficient garden with those around her in the food she cooks and flowers for beautiful display pieces at church. “Nothing beats being surrounded by the beauty of your own work and love.”
Q: What is one of your favorite things about plants?
I am so passionate about interior plants, because I don’t feel comfortable in stopping the earth at my front door. I want to be surrounded by it, feel the peace that comes from the plants, and have clean oxygen to fill my lungs with. Every space is improved with plants, I am a strong believer in that. We feel needed when we have plants to take care of, because they depend on us for life.
Plants are the best teachers. Growing up, my Dad would always teach me about Jesus and other important subjects as we gardened. He would say that weeds are like sins, they are easier to uproot when they are little. And that has always stuck in my mind. Plants teach patience and passion, responsibility, and the peace that the earth can bring. I could talk all day about the benefits of plants, but I will stop there.
Actually no, real quick I just want to say that kids love to have their own plants. I have tested this with my nieces and nephews, and have seen that plants have increased their desire to be outside, and they are more creative when they are aware of the wonders of plants, and they learn responsibility.
Q: If you were a novice with no green thumb, what is some advice you’d share?
I would tell you that no one just starts off with a green thumb, and not everyone who has a green thumb keeps everything alive. Developing a green thumb is all about learning about specific plants and techniques for plant maintenance. So I would suggest getting some experience with someone who can show you how to take care of plants, because hand on experience is the very best, and then I would also suggest the book “The House Plant Expert” by Dr. D. G. Hessayon. That book has taught me all about indoor plant care, but it can be applied to all plants.
Q: What are some good places to start gardening?
I would say to look up for places in your area where they have gardening classes, community gardens, or clubs. Every city, and even the smallest of towns have organizations or individuals who are passionate about plants. So don’t be afraid to get out and meet your local plant people, because everyone has something to teach you.
If you are shy, look up Instagram accounts that focus on your area of plants, such as vegetable gardening, cut flower crops, floral design, indoor plants, or landscaping and you will find that there are professionals all around you. Plant friends are my favorite kind of friends, and I find them everywhere I go.
Q: What are some gardening tips that you can share that are unique to Texas?
The soil in Texas is hard to work with. To get any kind of healthy plants going outside the soil needs to be amended, which can be pricey and time consuming. So I would suggest growing vegetable gardens in pots or raised beds. The fun thing about pots is that they can be placed on a front porch, balcony, window sill, etc. Don’t get trapped in the mindset that growing plants take up tons of space and money. Square foot gardening is a great thing to learn about. Seriously so many plants can be grown in so little space if you do some research!
Logan Castagno graduated from BYU-Idaho with a BS in Horticulture in 2017. She currently works as an Interior Plant Consultant and Designer with Southern Botanical in Dallas, TX, striving to help customers choose the best plants for their spaces. While residing in College Station, Logan began a plant portfolio on Instagram, Golden Greenery, to showcase her personal projects and passions for horticulture. Ultimately, she loves to share her passion and knowledge of plants with others and enhance their lives by including nature in their living spaces.