Trying 'guided gardening' at a Southwest Florida Plant Nite event
Lisa Crawford was introduced to Plant Nite when she received a call from a friend. “I wish you were here! They’re doing plants and drinking beer!” she remembers the friend saying. Crawford was living in Colorado at the time. She has since moved to North Fort Myers and become what the Boston-based company calls one of its “Creative Entrepreneurs.” They are the local owners bringing the make-and-take-and-sip events to regions where they live.
Plant Nite works on a model similar to Paint Nite. In fact, the two concepts were founded by the same entrepreneurs, Dan Hermann and Sean McGrail. For Paint Nite, those who are not particularly artistic―or who are―pay a fee to attend a lesson and spend about two hours at a local venue, where they paint the featured design by following the directions of an instructor, while sipping a drink, dining or chatting with friends. Plant Nite works in a similar way featuring ornamental gardens. Like Paint Nite’s resulting canvases, tabletop gardens are completed in one session and the participant takes home the finished product.
Crawford and her friends had participated in Paint Nites. “But I’m a terrible artist,” Crawford said on a recent afternoon at Cork Soakers in Cape Coral, one place in which Plant Nites are now held. What sets Plant Nite apart from other art-class entertainment, she says, is that the pieces created are virtually foolproof― projects are mini-gardens made with succulents, “which are the next best thing to indestructible,” Crawford says. “And they’re already pretty. You just put them in a pretty environment. You can relax and just express your creativity.”
Whatever the project, no matter what container is used or design is followed, gardeners have choices that make their pieces unique with the sand, moss and other materials provided. Plant Nite projects use succulents, also sometimes called “water storage plants.” They meet their human owners more than halfway. “They work best with people who say ‘I really can’t garden,’ ” Crawford says. “They pretty much thrive on being forgotten.”
Members of a large plant family that includes cactus, succulents have thick, fleshy leaves that allow
them to retain water in arid climates or tough soil conditions― or in houses of well-meaning but perhaps forgetful gardeners. These plants do well in sunny windowsills and with only occasional watering.
In Plant Nite projects, succulents are placed with colorful sand, pebbles with adages, little creature figures and other embellishments and placed in drawers, glass orbs, wooden boxes and many other containers.
Here’s how it works: A potential planter visits the Plant Nite website to find an event within a chosen distance, then sees which project will be made on what date and at what location. Crawford is still looking for venues in Southwest Florida, but events already are taking place at Cork Soakers and The French Press in Cape Coral, The Barrel House at Twisted Vine and the Islamorada Fish Co. in Fort Myers and Riptide Brewery in Naples. Lisa Crawford has been the instructor for all area classes, but she will be hiring as she adds venues.
Gardeners are in good hands. In Colorado, Crawford was an “urban farmer,” she says, working her 3 ½ acres near Boulder while raising chickens, turkeys, pigs and goats. Now in Southwest Florida, she gardens on her property in North Fort Myers and at a community garden in south Fort Myers. Crawford shares her extensive plant background with Plant Nite’s new audience. In addition to information and a tabletop garden, planters may be walking away from a fun evening with another benefit―succulents can be easy to propagate. Sometimes even dropped leaves will take root and grow.
So the skills learned at Plant Nite might make anyone a gardener with a collection of living art!
Plant Nite can be girlfriend time. Or guys. Cool results from your night out are hanging globes ( below) or other gerarium art.
Plant Nite projects use succulents, also sometimes called “water storage plants.” They meet their human owners more than halfway.