For this week's Wise Words we asked one of our favorite organizations, United Plant Savers, to let us know more about the amazing work that they do:

United Plant Savers (UpS) is a member supported non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of at-risk native medicinal plants such as ginseng, goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh and slippery elm to name a few.  UpS began 23 years ago when several herbalists including Rosemary Gladstar and Paul Strauss realized that many of the plants they were using in their medicines were disappearing from the wild and needed advocates to speak for them.

To help us identify plants of concern we have developed an At-Risk Tool that quantifies a particular plant’s vulnerability based on factors including life history, effects of harvest, abundance, range and more.  Currently the biggest threats to these plants are habitat loss and over-harvest from the wild.



We were so impressed with Ash Miyagawa's designs for this year's Homestead 'plants for dreaming' totebags (our other 'desert plant' totebags were designed by Grace Molteni) that we wanted to find out more about her work. We asked her more about her connection to plants and how they make their way into her artwork and this is what she shared:

Living in the city while maintaining a relationship with nature can be difficult. The woods are very far away, and it is hard to find places to reconnect with the natural self. I’ve always had a certain fascination with victorian poets and writers, Emily Dickinson being a favorite. Their slow pace of living, filled with fascination and their deep, emotional relationship with nature and the impact it has on their lives.

In our own way, just as victorians did in the past, we are beginning to reclaim our ties to nature as a response to newfound technology. Just as the victorians felt an urge to cling to the study and incorporation of botanicals in everyday life in the form of tonics, decor, adornment, and keepsakes in reaction to the industrial age, we too make attempts to find a slower, more meaningful way to live. In between our stressful day to day lives we can see this via the recent popularity of teas, natural materials in garments, organic whole foods, herbalism (and its study) and the onset of not just outdoor gardening (which has always been popular) but the upkeep and companionship of indoor houseplants and herbs as well.



We asked James Eads, creator of Prisma Visions Tarot (one of our favorite decks!) a few questions for this week's WISE WORDS:

How did you first get introduced to working with tarot?

My initial introduction to tarot was actually through gig poster work. I created a print of a tarot reading which marked the beginning of Light Visons, a deck that I am rereleasing this month as it's 5 year anniversary edition. Admittedly, a lot of what I know about tarot I learned through the process of creating a deck. I studied classical decks like the Raider-Waite deck along with contemporary decks that I admired to get an understanding of the symbolism and meanings behind each card as well as how they interacted together.



Nicotiana Flower Essence - Grounding the Heart

Nicotiana is an indigenous flowering tobacco plant. Its flower essence empowers us to authentically experience emotions as we navigate the physical world. It’s an excellent ally for those of us who are ready to face our feelings but find it overwhelming to open the floodgates of  pent-up emotions. It acts as a gentle guide to keep the heart grounded through this process.

Nicotiana is indicated for anyone who pushes down and denies their own emotional energy. This can manifest as a cool or cynical front that projects an image of control. It can also be useful in treating any addiction that’s rooted in escapism - tobacco, food, and other substances can be abused when they’re used to numb feelings instead of nourishing the body. When we push down and ignore our feelings, it cuts us off from a vital energy source that strengthens our intuition, sends us signals about our mental and physical well-being, and allows us to connect authentically with the world and other people.



Laurie Stern is a local gem! Her yard in El Cerrito is alive with aromatic plants and bees--the makings of handcrafted perfumes for Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery.  

I like to make this oil using fresh, just-picked jasmine, gardenias, or orange blossoms from the garden. It’s good if they are a little wilted, as there will be less moisture in them.

1. Pick enough fresh blossoms to pack densely into a glass jar. Cover the jar to the top with organic jojoba oil. Put a thin cloth on top to let the moisture evaporate.

2. Let your concoction warm in the sun for just a few hours. Give it a day or two and then strain the mixture through cheesecloth, discarding the blossoms and keeping the oil.