Shifting to a Crown Heights House Allowed Her to Nurture a Inexperienced Thumb

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Moving to a Crown Heights Apartment Allowed Her to Nurture a Green Thumb

Jaclyn Baird really wanted her desk to be a place to work, but the plants have taken over.

Various dried flowers and leaves, such as eucalyptus, gypsophila and straw flower, hang in rows above the desk. A passion fruit vine creeps along the adjoining wall and creeps over a velvet painting. "I tossed some passion fruit seeds from a cocktail I was making into a pot," she said with a shrug, "and it grew."

Here, in what Ms. Baird (30) calls the "anteroom" of her garden apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, plants live in different phases of life and dehydration together with their varied selection of mostly economical works of art. Ignore the large windows that light comes in and you'll think she has a pretty good variety of plants to choose from.

But out of the window is all her pride and joy: a large garden, which was the big draw when Mrs. Baird, manager of a luxury travel company, was looking for a larger apartment for her friend John Beullens, a bartender. The two previously lived in a tiny studio in the East Village that was "about the size of this room," Ms. Baird said, gesturing toward her living room, desperately looking for something larger, ideally with an outside area that Ms. Baird could put her in Green could cultivate thumb.

Her yard is lush and surprisingly spacious, with added privacy thanks to the raspberry and grape vines currently embroiled in a turf battle over the chain link fence that demarcates the property.

Previous tenants installed various plant beds, including a pair of bath tub planters (currently empty, on next spring's to-do list); a hot box made by placing an old magenta wooden door over a raised bed; and a shorter wooden bed in which Mrs. Baird tried to plant carrots before the caterpillars came to them. The final raised bed is rich in herbs like mint and parsley and a basil plant that reaches to the waist. Dense bushes of wild hydrangeas are bursting with greens and pinks; Ms. Baird is testing the drying process to use in bouquets that she plans to sell at local flea markets.

$ 2,500 | Crown Heights, Brooklyn

Job: Operations manager for a luxury travel company.
Your favorite flea market: "I get all of my carpets at the Meadowlands Flea Market in New Jersey, but you have to be there early – before 10 a.m."
Her tips for buying plants: “All of the plants I bought from Trader Joe have died. Nelly's on Broadway in Brooklyn is good, but I swear they doubled their prices during the pandemic. Most of the houseplants I've bought come from bodegas in the East Village. "

One of Ms. Baird's favorite plants still lives in a plastic pot even though she spends most of her time outside: an avocado tree that she propagated in Costa Rica a few years ago. She moved there from Los Angeles in 2017 to care for her father after he had a grand mal seizure and stayed after his death. Upon arriving in Costa Rica, she found a remote job on Craigslist, working for a small Toronto travel company that paid enough to cover her expenses.

While living there, Ms. Baird learned to propagate plants. "Everywhere I lived in Costa Rica there were mango trees and all kinds of fruits," she said. "You can spread anything, but it was particularly easy there."

She visited friends' homes and noticed a particularly exquisite plant; mostly she went home with a clipping. Your garden began to grow.

She began studying plants and their medicinal properties, making mixtures of dried plants like eucalyptus that could be added to a rolled cigarette.

Mrs. Baird has always been a hobbyist. She started selling vintage clothing in college while volunteering with the Salvation Army and found a beautiful 1920s shirt that would fit her perfectly. Soon her sorority sisters asked to buy their pieces and their purchases paid their bills. Over the next decade, she developed an impressive collection of vintage items that she shipped to Costa Rica, where she opened a shop. She also works as a costume designer in the moonlight.

In January 2020, Ms. Baird returned to the United States and landed in New York. She eventually found a small studio in the East Village for $ 1,950 a month. It was just big enough for her, but when she started dating Mr. Beullens that fall and he moved in, it got uncomfortably small.

He lost his job after the pandemic closed the city and she worked from home. "We needed a door," said Ms. Baird. “I worked all day and he was scrolling through Reddit and I heard bits and pieces of a video that he watched for three seconds. It would drive me crazy. "

Additionally, living in the East Village didn't seem worth it if they weren't comfortable going to bars and restaurants.

Ms. Baird put her foot down this summer. She decided they were going to move, hell or high tide, and found the Crown Heights apartment through the Listings Project. She believes she was one of more than 100 applicants, but she won because she connected with the landlord through her love for plants and the apartment's large garden. The couple received the keys on July 21st and moved in four days later.

Now Mrs. Baird has space to spread out her handicrafts and vintage pieces, and Mr. Beullens enjoys talking in the back yard; You recently bought a smoker. The apartment also has many original built-in accents, including a pressed pewter ceiling in the bedroom and closets that Ms. Baird keeps her treasures, dried plants, and a colorful collection of rag dolls.

As soon as he moved in, Mr. Beullens played tennis on a nearby court and met someone who helped him get a job as a bartender in an Orthodox steakhouse in Manhattan.

Ms. Baird saw it as a sign, “This place is a portal to good things that happen,” she said.

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