Growing up as a child in Jakarta, Indonesia, I was always charmed by plants. My fascination with their lives, how they grow, how they interact with animals and the magical colors they produce led me to dream of a career that would surround me with nature’s beauty every day.
Pursuing my BFA in Graphic Design, brought me to California, where the local plants captivated my heart, mind and imagination. I liken California native plants to the classic image of a California surfer dude—they love where they live, they have a casual, easygoing attitude, and it doesn’t take very much to make them happy.
My desire to bring nature home led me to study native horticulture through the Theodore Payne Foundation, a non-profit nursery that is dedicated to a preservation of California Native plants. Now, I use my own Culver City front and backyard as both an educational piece and my source of joyful inspiration, turning it into a sustainable, lively eco-system for bees, butterflies, bids, and other wildlife. I am proud that my garden has become part of Theodore Payne Annual Garden Tour, and my neighbors see it as an oasis in the urban environment. It was even featured on 89.3 KPCC for its Environment & Science story on Drought: Taking Out Your Lawn? How to Choose What to do Next.
As people came to visit the garden and began to inquire about California Native gardening, I realized how underrated and misunderstood California Native plants are. While I am not a landscape designer (maybe some day), I am inspired to integrate my passion and artistic vision to create an awareness around California Native plants. From there, a variety of projects and collaborations began to take root, and Poppy & Finch grew organically as a business.
From leading creative native plant workshops for educational groups and private parties to creating products and floral designs for special events of all kinds, I want my company to be as freeform and varied as the Southern California landscape. In the Poppy & Finch studio, colorful vintage coffee cans, condiment containers and other repurposed collectibles are used for arrangements of California flora, which will transform them into unique, one-of-a-kind centerpieces for an upcoming wedding or staging, to name a few. T-shirts, tote bags, and cushions sporting the colorful Poppy&Finch logo are ready to be shipped to customers. Plans for collaborations with local artists, on products such as soaps, candles and essential oils, are blooming and growing. And inspired new native plant project ideas pop up in my sketchbooks daily.
We think of the earth as this enduring thing that nurtures us and will outlive us, but the truth is, it’s very fragile. What we do for it while we’re here really does matter. I love being able to use my design skills to help people understand that, and help them experience the beauty of giving the earth what it needs. I really believe we have to think globally and plant locally. The plants we put in our gardens will feed the birds and butterflies and all the other wildlife around us. Ninety percent of local leaf-eating insects, including caterpillars that turn into butterflies, only can eat California Native plants. Most of plants around us might be drought-tolerant but they are from Africa, New Zealand, Australia, etc. California Native plants is the base food web for the cycle of life. Gardening with California Native is such a rewarding experience, I really feel connected to nature. I want to help people here in Southern California surround themselves with the real, authentic beauty of this place,
To learn more about Weina, California native plants, and her company Poppy + Finch, visit her website.
Copy writer: Julie Curtis
Photography: Anne Cynn and Heather Winters