The L.A. plant lovers who caught our eye in 2021

A photo collage of Plant PPL from 2021.
(Times staff)

This year was supposed to be better.

And yet, despite collective fear and exhaustion surrounding surging coronavirus variants, supply chain issues and weather disasters, many residents of Los Angeles were able to pivot and persevere, united by their connection to plants.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Meadow Carder-Vindel opened her family’s garden to others for ceremonies, classes on regenerative gardening, after-school activities and weddings. Recently, she started leasing the garden through Healing Gardens, an online marketplace that allows homeowners and caretakers to list their organic gardens for rent. It’s similar to the way Airbnb lists rooms and homes for guests.

Sandra Mejia transformed an auto body shop in West Adams into the Plant Chica, an urban greenhouse and plant shop where she now hosts yoga, free plant clinics and children’s events (for example, Santa was there in an effort to create a safe space for the community). “The kids who are from this neighborhood, it’s so important for them to see that the owners look just like them, whether they’re Black or brown, it can happen, you can be a business owner,” Mejia said.

The Plant PPL series debuted in June 2020 in an effort to highlight plant people of color in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

This year, we profiled nearly 30 plant disciples in Los Angeles, from small business owners and urban farmers to clothing designers and TikTok influencers. The group reflects the diversity of Los Angeles — Black, Latino, Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino, among them — and underscores the fact that plants are about more than just botany. They connect us to one another.

“Houseplants mean growth,” designer Jon Perdomo told us. “Houseplants mean love. Houseplants mean togetherness. Houseplants mean happiness. Houseplants mean peace. Houseplants mean belonging.”

Here’s a look at some of the Plant PPL we profiled in 2021. If you have suggestions for people to include in our series, tag us on Instagram @latimesplants.