Hi everyone. My name is Matt Mattus, and I am kind of obsessed with plants — veggies, rare bulbs from South Africa, heirloom cut flowers — you name it.
My idea of the ideal vacation isn’t lying on a beach or going to shows in Vegas. It’s more like going on treks to Nepal or botanizing in places such as Chile and the Swiss Alps. You can learn so much when studying plants in their native habitat. Plus, this allows me to photograph specimens and to collect rare seeds, which I then share with specialist plant societies, collectors and botanic gardens. So, yeah… I guess it’s safe to say that I’m officially a plant nerd.
Horticulture and gardening aren’t new ventures for me at all, as I’ve been collecting, researching and raising plants since I was a kid (yeah, no hockey for me), so this isn’t just a pastime — it’s clearly a lifestyle choice. I love sharing all these plant adventures on my blog, Growing With Plants.
My garden is an old one, as it’s been in my family for more than 100 years. It was thoughtfully landscaped in the 1920s by my uncles, but it’s pretty overgrown now. We love our long, fieldstone walkways that my grandfather built and the old concrete fish pond constructed in 1926 (still with fish!), but the old golf green, which required a special lawn mower and chemicals, was not so great. It had to go.
Honestly, my favorite garden tool is my greenhouse. I know that it’s a bit of an indulgence (admittedly even a luxury), but it’s one that I am so grateful to be able to keep active, at least for the moment. It’s a little like owning a boat, I guess, except that it uses way more fuel! It’s my laboratory, my studio, my museum and certainly my day spa (and some may say my therapist).
I share all of this with my partner Joe (of 25 years) and an entire menagerie of creatures, including chickens, turkeys, honeybees, Indian Runner ducks, pigeons, pheasants and few too many sweet but rascally Irish Terriers. Truth be told, our male turkeys are nastier, but I can’t promise that they will make it past November. Yum.
You will see that I like challenging myself with my gardening projects, particularly conducting experiments, building comprehensive collections where I can observe the differences within a certain plant family, and creating plant trials where I grow as many of a particular species or variety of a plant at one time. I like to think of myself as being part scientist, part artist and part test-kitchen chef. OK, maybe part crazy, too.
With all of this botanical insanity, you may be surprised to know that I never made a career out of gardening. Instead, I took a more creative path in the design and entertainment field. Mom always said, “If you love cooking, don’t become a professional chef.” Smart advice. So, I’m a principal designer for a big toy company, which I also love. That said, I can’t help but factor design into everything that I do, especially my plant work.
Inevitably, someone will leave a comment like, “I don’t know how you do it all!” I know that it all looks that way online sometimes, but don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors. The truth is I have lots of weeds, dog hair on the furniture and little to no time to work on it all, just like the rest of you! So don’t sweat it. Be easy on yourself and relax. I just hope I can inspire you to discover something new that you never thought that you could grow.
Photo credits: Matt Mattus