Globe Magazine

‘This Old House’ contractor thankful for those bringing beauty to our plants, public spaces, and planet

From public works folks to those working in local nurseries, spring has made a difference.

Kristin Notarangeli, a gardener at the Encore Boston Harbor casino, replaces petunias in the Harborwalk gardens. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Jenn Nawada is the landscape contractor on "This Old House" and "Ask This Old House." Anthony Tieuli

COVID happened when everything was dormant in winter. I partnered with a colleague, and we started [a delivery service] called Boston’s Victory Gardens. We wanted people to be able to have some inspiration and hope, through a seed blooming, or a plant opening up. The ability to nurture a plant goes a long way.

Shout-out to all public works folks who kept our parks open, clean, and safe. All the small local nurseries who made it possible to get plants during quarantine. The seed companies that worked to fill record numbers of orders with less staff to serve the new demand for veggie gardens. People have been confined to their homes implementing projects that have been on hold, because there is never any time.

I’ve been thankful for being able to slow down a little bit. To be home and be present. My kids are 11 and 13. They’re completely self-sufficient. My husband’s a teacher, so he goes to his Zoom meeting. I raised my kids to be outside. As anyone who has a kid knows, your baby just calms down when you’re outside. When they were little, I’d take them outside in the stroller and the crying would stop. There’s stimulation from birds, bees, bugs. The wind. Texture. Smell. So I think it’s activating people’s senses again. People are noticing: “Oh, the lilacs this time of year!”

The birds have always been here — we’re just hearing them now. And the wildlife has come back. All the traffic patterns are down, emissions are down. It will hopefully help with people rethinking about how they navigate, and not destroy, our world.

–As told to James Sullivan


Jenn Nawada is owner of Nawada Landscape Design Inc. and the landscape contractor on This Old House and Ask This Old House. Interview has been edited and condensed.

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