Prior to establishing a native plant nursery, I worked as a floral designer and horticulturist. My daily job responsibilities for 20 years included caring for a large and diverse inventory of green and blooming plants, as well as fresh cut flowers.
I loved my design career, but I was interested in learning more about plants and their ecological role. My interest led me to take on a part-time seasonal position as a gardener for a native plant landscaping company in Marin County, California.
In 2019, I obtained my bachelor's degree in environmental science. My intention was to have a career working with plants that made a positive difference in the world. With a Magic Grant from my alma mater through the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation, I was able to establish Sweetfern and make that dream possible.
I am passionate about growing native plants and educating others about the unique characteristics that make them the best choice for New England gardens.
Instructing a group of high school students in floral design using local organically-grown flowers.
While a student, I was incredibly fortunate to be a curatorial assistant at The Botanic Garden of Smith College. Under the direction and supervision of a botanist, I learned how to collect, clean, and properly store fresh seed in addition to stratification methods. In 2018, I completed an internship at the Smithsonian where I assisted botanists in preparing rare medicinal plant specimens for DNA sequencing. Through these experiences, I observed the complex relationship between native plants, pollinators, and people. It became obvious to me that ecological health is directly related to human health.
Sweetfern is the common name for the native plant Peregrina comptonia which is actually not a fern, but a deciduous shrub with fragrant leaves.
I chose the name Sweetfern for my plant nursery because of this plant's unique look and its cultural history. It is also the first native plant I identified growing in my backyard in Plymouth County. Like other native plants, Sweetfern has wildlife, medicinal, and cultural value. Native Americans used Sweetfern leaves as a treatment for poison ivy rash while American Colonists used them as an alternative to tea.