Words by Marléna Ahearn
Photos by Julia Merrell
“It’s a home. It’s not a job, not a career. It’s a home. I could do this every day and not get paid for it. All I want to do is make the world a better place. If I have to do it through plants then I’m okay with that.”For the past decade Shelby Beyler has collected over 200 varieties of plants, learned botanical names, cared for, obsessed over, and resurrected plants.
“I have such a passion for all things plants, trees, flowers, indoor, outdoor. I have a respect for it and the way they’ve evolved to sustain everything a hell of a lot longer than humans.”
With all her knowledge, Shelby realized she could be a resource for people who wanted to properly care for their plants but weren’t sure where to start. So, The Botanist was born. Then it started growing and evolving. More ideas came and her creativity took control. Today, she has become a go-to for wedding rentals, consulting, teaching.
Shelby’s deep love for plants has always been a part of her. She grew up in the small farm town Eden, New York and spent her whole life being outside in the garden and the woods.
“I would go outside, gather things, try to make stuff. I would catch crayfish and snakes and salamanders. I was the kid with the dirt under the fingernails, not wanting to take a shower. There was this one spot I would lay in where it was all trees. I could look up and see the sky through all these trees and I would lay there and think of shapes and smell the earth,” says Shelby, a little teary remembering her roots.Her formative years of being in nature helped her realize how inconsequential humans are. The trees that were there many lifetimes before her and will be there for many lifetimes after are a humbling reminder. “It’s a liberating feeling and releases stress off you. I need that to come back down and realize I don’t need to be anything more than me. Being with plants reminds me and I want everybody to feel the same,” says Shelby.
“The smell of the soil, coming back to it and seeing growth, and being able to say ‘I helped make that happen’ is meaningful.”
It can be a meditative experience being in a room with soil and breathing it in. Feeling the earth with your fingers and caring for something outside of herself is deeply therapeutic for Shelby, and she hopes to share the same experience with others through teaching and consulting.
There’s magic when you open yourself up to life and allow things to flow. When you sit back and see how things fit together and evolve when they are meant to be . “That’s been my whole experience doing this. Everything has just fallen into place, somehow. I know I’m putting in the work, but there’s an ease to it. I feel more like myself and more confident because I’m doing something that means a lot to me.”