What happens when you cross pollinate a psychology undergrad degree with an environmental sciences grad degree? Turns out you get a very intriguing hybrid called L. Vayda; aka Liz Vayda. She is the owner of botanical shop B. Willow in Baltimore’s Remington neighborhood who, as holder of both degrees, believes wholeheartedly that “plants are part of our well-being.” Hotel Revival enlisted the “botanist psychologist” to create an interior space where plants would thrive and where humans would, too, simply because of their presence. Behold the hotel’s Garden Room at Topside. It’s like an oxygen-rich plant “spa,” a place to reconnect to the energy expelled by the oxygen-rich leafy green beasts. We asked Liz to tell us more about her love affair with nature.
There’s an open walkway into the Garden Room, which has a good amount of brick. Windows span across two sides of the room. The view in of itself is … well, extraordinary … there aren’t a lot of establishments in Baltimore where you can see the historic beauty of the city in the same way. At Hotel Revival, you can look out and get unparalleled views of the Washington Monument and cobblestone steps. It was important for us not to block the view! It’s a really special place.
Because of those windows, this space is full of light, which makes it a perfect environment for a wide variety of plants. We brought in several types of tropicals, incorporating plants like Anthurium, Bird of Paradise, a lemon tree, Snake Plants…
Wait … you’ll have fruiting trees *indoors*?
Absolutely, yes. They fruit here in the spring. With a high level of light, the citrus will be here throughout the winter even.
The light, of course. Any time we do installations, we ask what the space is used for. If it’s a restaurant or food hall, we know the ovens will be on and the air will be dry. So we won’t pick plants that need high levels of humidity. We also consider the amount of maintenance needed.
At Hotel Revival, it’s not near an open kitchen and the plants themselves do generate their own humidity. We might need to supplement with humidifiers, especially in winter when the heat will be on.
At the hotel, will you be working with a local ceramicist in particular?
Yes! Claire De Salvo. Her work is incredible.
How were you introduced to Hotel Revival?
The owner of Revival, Tracy Proietti, participated in one of my earlier terrarium workshops in Mount Vernon, a couple years before I opened my shop in Remington. I believe this sparked her interest in my work, and subsequent thought to suggest collaborating for the hotel when she began to consider her plant options. I’m so grateful for her to have kept B.Willow in mind over the years, and for having us come aboard this project.
How did the garden room concept come about?
The owners of the hotel wanted to incorporate natural elements that would enliven the new private room in Topside. They’re very attentive and supportive of local businesses and artists in Baltimore. Any opportunity to source locally, they’ve taken. Thankfully we were Tracy’s first thought when it came to finding a local business in Baltimore that could source lush tropical plants and beautiful, locally made planters.
How do you envision B.Willow staying connected with the Garden Room?
We are providing weekly plant maintenance including watering, pruning, misting, to make sure their plants are healthy and happy! We handpicked all of the plants in the room, choosing those that would thrive and benefit from so much natural light. Having our team give close attention to them once a week ensures that they continue to be as healthy as possible. We know they are your plants, but we treat them like they’re ours!
We would like to start incorporating more botanical education throughout the space like name plates so guests can learn the names of each plant. Eventually, we look forward to curating botany themed events for the space, focusing more on lecture series rather than diy experiences. An example would be a “houseplants 101” class in which you would learn lots of tips and tricks from our lead botanist, Zach, while sipping on cocktails. Each guest would choose a plant to take home (based on their newfound knowledge of which would be best for their space!), our botany booklet and more surprises.
Photos Courtesy of Dave Cooper