Zen masters call it beginner’s mind, the state of being free from preconceived views and willing to learn—a state they encourage us to cultivate, though it can be disconcerting. Sometimes we’re thrown into that not-knowing mind by a change in circumstances. Like when Andy Brand, one of the most plant savvy people I know, moved to a new job, a new garden and a new state, and suddenly met a lot of unknown plants.
I asked Andy to use his recent experience to inspire all of us to dare to open up to a wider plant palette, too, whether by necessity or just for fun, and where to look for inspiration. He’s even adopted a hashtag on social media, #somanyplantstolearn, to celebrate the unknowns.
Andy Brand was long-time nursery manager at Broken Arrow Rare Plant Nursery in Connecticut until he moved to Maine and became plant curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Since then, he’s been on a steep learning curve, getting acquainted with exciting new plants in the garden’s collections and in the surrounding wild landscape.