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The Art of Collecting: Plant Lover Deanna Jennings

by Caitlin Kelch

For some, collecting certain objects brings a feeling of pride; for others, continuity. For Deanna Jennings, it’s tranquility. That feeling of deep calm is what drew Deanna to grow her collection of living things — plants. Raised in rural Oregon in a time before video games and computers, Deanna says her childhood was “spent playing outside in the forest.” Thinking back, she is so grateful for those magical days roaming free among the majestic trees and tip-toeing on the soft, mossy ground. Her appreciation for nature was born under a canopy of green.

Now, as a working mother, her time is spent mostly indoors. The days of roaming the forest may be a fond memory, but Deanna has created her own special place filled with a collection of indoor plants that bring her back to those cherished days. Recently Deanna realized that as her collection grew and more plants filled her home, she felt more relaxed with each addition. While she leads a minimal lifestyle and doesn’t accumulate a lot of “stuff,” she notes that “there is always room for another plant” in her home.

Deanna jokes that she’s not sure if it’s “the nostalgia or the oxygen” she thrives on as she moves through her home and workspace, past houseplants number one through 40-something. Some of her plants are “rescues” from friends or family who relocated and some of her collection were purchased simply for their beauty that Deanna wanted to incorporate into her everyday experience.

As a small business owner of the online shop Juniper and Scout, Deanna spends her days using her keen eye to select special pieces handmade by independent artists and making sure her orders are beautifully packed and shipped off to their new home. Surrounded by an A-team of colorful companions leaning and stretching towards the light, she’s reminded that each day is an opportunity for growth.

How long have you been collecting your plants? 

I’ve had various houseplants over the years, but I think in the last several years, I’ve been actively “collecting” them.

How large is your collection?

I have around 40 plants of various sizes, from a large, out-of-control rubber tree plant, to a 1″ baby cactus.

Are you the sole caretaker of your plants or do you encourage family members to help care for them and interact with them? 

My husband helps mainly with our outdoor plants, and my son has his own plant collection as well.

Do you have a favorite within the collection?

I love my Rattlesnake Calathea because it’s visually stunning. The top side of the leaves look hand-painted, and the undersides are a beautiful, intense burgundy. My favorite thing about it, though, is its little magic trick of closing its leaves at night and opening up in the morning.

Are you selective with the vessels or pots your plants live in? For example, beyond size, do you match the pot to the plant or the plant to the pot? 

I usually start with the plant, and try to find a pot that will complement it. I lean towards simple vessels because I want the plant to be the stand-out. Also, they eventually grow out of their containers, so I’ve learned not to become too attached to the plant/planter combination. I have a rotating stack of pots that I reuse, but I’m always a sucker for a unique, new ceramic planter or basket.

Is there a particular season when your plants bring you the most joy?

I think the seasons when I’m indoors more, which are winter and the hot Southern California summers. Those are the times I appreciate that little bit of nature around me the most.

Do your plants have names?

I’m not that “plant lady,” but I have to admit some of them have nicknames.

Finally, what quality would you say your collection brings to your life?

Tranquility.

This post in brought to you in collaboration with IKEA to celebrate the introduction of their new SAMMANHANG line of small interior pieces and furniture. The SAMMANHANG line is designed to store, share and display memories and personal collections like the one shared in this post. See actual pieces from the collection and enjoy another niche collection story below. Paul has been collecting buttons for years and has an archivist’s eye for each unique one.

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