The Plant Explorers!

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We have the great opportunity to meet a lot of people from all over the world through the course of creating and promoting GrowIt! It’s the interactions with different people that really show me how GrowIt! Is making a difference.

Since I was young, my favorite thing in the world has been to meet interesting people and learn what makes them tick and what gets them out of bed in the morning.  I had the opportunity this weekend to act out my passion and meet some very interesting people…and to see a friend’s passion in full swing.


This story starts with my friend at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens, Mr. Kelly Norris.  I will sum him up quickly: he is a kickass individual.  After becoming the director of the gardens, he used his passion and drive to acquire over $18 million in funding to renovate the facility and add 7 acres of outdoor garden space.  This is a wonderful opportunity for all of Des Moines because the garden itself is in the heart of the city.


Kelly had the vision beyond what the gardens current state was; he communicated that vision with passion, built the right team, and then used his drive and determination to make it a reality.  You can read more about Kelly and The Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens by reading the New York Times story HERE.  If you live near Des Moines, make sure to stop by and take a look at it…..and feel free to put up some wonderful plants on GrowIt!.


I was in Des Moines visiting Kelly and his crew over the weekend for their first annual symposium, “plant exploring”.  As I was driving to Des Moines I couldn’t help but envision an Indiana Jones like figure standing on stage with his trowel in one hand and whip in another hand.  He would be excitedly telling us about the time he was in search of a long lost plant that had only been pictured in ancient scrolls.  After hearing 4 wonderful presentations I can assure you that there were no chase scenes depicted in the stories that were told.  However, there did seem to be some amazing similarities in the fact that one speaker, Mark Hachadourian, was in search for plants that had not been seen for over 100 years.  He started his presentation talking about the incredibly exotic plants that explorers from all over the world would bring back to Victorian England.  As time passed on, wars came and went, family fortunes were broken up and massive greenhouse sculptures were lost.  With those lost structures, the plants disappeared as well. The only proof that they ever existed were pictures drawn out by artists.


Mark’s presentation was chalk full of wonderful images of plants that were so exotic you would l think you were looking at a Hollywood set.  But for me, given how much I enjoy people, I found his enthusiasm for unknown plants the most remarkable.  If you enjoy the observing interesting photos of weird and wild plants you might want to check out his book.


I would like to Thank Kelly Norris, Mark Hachadourian and his other speakers: Dan Hinkley, Jim Ault, and Peter Zale for and great day of plant exploration…even if there was no Indiana themed music. Dun dada dun… dun da dun….

Seth Reed – Co-Founder, GrowIt!