Born; Salt Lake City, UT January 10, 1964, age 48
Graduate Alta High School May 1982
1983 University of Utah, Salt Lake City, one semester, liberal arts
1984 Waldenbooks Fashion Place Mall, Murray, UT.
1985 in-store transfer to Waldenbooks, Stonehenge Mall, Pleasanton, CA.
1985 Chabot Jr. College, Dublin, CA. one semester, track, astronomy, anthropology
Salt Lake Carriage Service
duties: Horse and stall maintenance, harnessing and hooking up to carriage, keeping scheduled pickup appointments, drumming up other tours, tour guiding of downtown Salt Lake City
duties: Extensive training and testing in houseplant care and maintenance. Loading heavy equipment, driving company VW buses to various business accounts to water house/office plants thru-out the day in timely manner and with extreme care not to spill water or soil on desks, papers, floors etc. With efficiency so to complete daily roster. Daily cleaning and storing of equipment.
duties: Preparation of shipped-in flowers, artful arranging of flowers into various formats, entrusted with delivery van 100 mile radius.
duties: Extensive knowledge of new age genre, receiving books, consistently tested in 10 key operation and book sense.
Alta Lodge Alta, UT housekeeping, skiing, and far too much partying…
Sam Weller Books Midvale, UT.
duties: Extensive knowledge of book selection in every section of sales floor, receiving, sales, reading for recommends
Playfair Racetrack Spokane, WA.
duties: stall mucker, hot walker – picking up thoroughbred horses from their morning track workout, walking to cool or attaching to auto round walker, putting them back in their stalls.
Millcreek Gardens plant nursery Sugarhouse , UT.
duties: extensive knowledge developed of zone 5 hardy plants, micro-climates, bloom times, water requirements in perennial and annual sales floor. Some winter work; disbudding, pricking, flat filling, transplanting, moving too many flats of plants but teaching myself botanical Latin in the meantime.
Caras Nursery Missoula, MT.
duties: extensive knowledge of zone 4/5 hardy plants and detailed understanding of all above as learned at previous nursery, and then some. Perennial sales floor, in nursery landscape design for customers – many of them repeats. Loading soil with skidsteer, answering phones, cashiering, you name it – all for $5 an hour!
Fall 1994 pass the Certified Plant Professional exam (CCP)
Winters 1995-1998 pass Master Gardener certificates (4xMG)
Winter 1995 create Kinship Gardens, a sole proprietorship garden maintenance service.
1996 Create and launch Earth Nurture newsletter, a quarterly hands on, practical, do-it-yourself garden missive. Since its inception it has had 60-100 subscribers. Since 2001 a new page was added to describe my lavender farming venture, in 2005 another page;
Rosalie Ranch, an ongoing memoir of modern day homesteading and living off grid in the Mission Valley (by far my reader’s favorite!) During this time, Kinship Gardens maintains as many as 28 gardens weekly and the business culminates with my being hired by Good Food Store to design, install and be the general contractor in the installation of the landscape of their current location. I hired 4 subcontractors to help me tackle the job.
2001 I establish myself as Lavender Lori by planting 1500 lavender plants along the driveway at Ten Spoon Winery. I have a share croppers arrangement with them-pay them $1500 annually to use their land. Based on my own research, I plant a variety: ‘Grosso’ unknown in our region, never before tried and for 9 years it proves as successful as the tried and trues. I also trial another variety which proves tougher still, and am beginning to market each.
2004 Mom dies, leaves me a small chunk of change, which I spend all of on a 20 acre parcel of land in the Mission Valley and call it the Rosalie Ranch in her honor summer 2005. I put a small cabin on it and stay there overnight once every week ever since.
2008 Kinship Gardens morphs into a design and consulting services, I drop the maintenance accounts into worthy hands. I cater to do-it-yourselfers and provide detailed plant lists, keys, maps and sketches over photographs of their yards to provide them a visual.
I devote all my energies and influence into Rocky Mountain Lavender and essential oils and am known locally as the Lavender Queen of Missoula until a freak storm in early October of ’09 freezes 1000 of my crop to death. I also file for divorce after 18 years of marriage, leave my home and gardens for the absolute unknown.
I am in identity crisis mode, a true, blue mid-life crisis. People still call me Lavender Lori. I worked hard for a dozen years to attain my reputation. I continue to dabble in lavender farming/crafting, supply a handful of accounts and keep my lavender oil junkies supplied. I begin installing a small secondary lavender plantation on the ranch.
132 plants survive, which then become invaluable as mother plants from which I begin cloning my future crop, some at Ten Spoon, most up at the Rosalie. This proves to be an arduous process, breaking and prepping virgin ground, the constant destruction of plants by various and countless rodentia, and requires patience and stamina in waiting for maturation of the perennial crop.
2010 I apply for and am granted $15,000 Growth Thru Agriculture (GTA) grant money from the Montana Department of Agriculture to improve upon the essential oil business I started in 2004. Unfortunately, the new distilling unit sits in storage as I await the maturity of the new crop.
I live in as many as 5 different apartments between September 2009 and August 2012. They are all under 700 square feet; most of them under 300 square feet of living space. I begin to assess space and what one really requires to survive. I think at this point I will become a professional organizer, if only because I am secretly disturbed at most folks mis-use of large space. I put a sign on the door that leads to the garage of one of my apartments. It reads “Dance Hall”. She doesn’t even park her car in there because of the haphazard way she keeps 5 un-used bicycles, an old barco-lounger, and her lawn mower. When I get booted from it (renters always at the whim of the landlord) I refuse to flush over $500 a month to have a roof over my head any longer. I don’t have it to flush! Sales are so low at market on account of a theory called Paradox of Choice, quite simply, when overwhelmed by too much variety the customer shuts down, buys a pastry, and goes home. Not great for the ‘Little Luxury’ business of Lavender.
The only answer is my ace in the hole, the tiny (77 square feet), off-grid (solar electric, no running water, no indoor plumbing), shot gun shack I have been visiting and staying a couple nights weekly since I placed it there. This cabin, in its peaceful, ( a good 1/4 mile off the road) setting adjacent a small perennial creek brings me such indescribable joy! I sleep so well here; no one but the dog to hear my heart beat, my stomach rumble, my snoring…Winter with it’s firewood chopping, keeping the night fire stoked so I don’t freeze to death by morning, and tromping about in two foot deep snow is a trade off from summer sleeping with the windows wide open, getting work done so to sit in the shade the cabin casts late afternoon, and swatting the many bugs brought in from the neighboring cows.
I break up with an on again/off again boyfriend of three years in August of 2013, and the winds of my life change direction. I take the Motorcycle Rider’s Safety Course, because I miss the boyfriend’s Harley. We put 3,000 miles on it over the previous year, and I loved that time! Taking this weekend course empowers me like nothing has in quite some time. With the help of a friend I purchase a Yamaha XT 225 dual sport bike and get a few rides in before winter. I suddenly feel like everything’s gonna be fine. I always knew, deep down that it would, but now I can feel it.
I had come to terms and was quite content to call this cabin home. I had put most of my belongings into a storage trailer out back of it, had become comfortable with my bucket system composting toilet out in the shed. I was in a routine of going to town and using a friend’s shower while there once or twice a week. In the summer I utilize an outdoor shower I built myself, or luxuriate in my outdoor tub with a fantastic view of the Mission mountains.
And then, one day I approach a neighbor (he lives about a mile away from the cabin) for possible work. He has 10 horses. I’ve had many jobs in my life working with horses. Instead of work I come to find a person whom I have not been ready to meet up until now. The dog and I have been holin’ up with him through the winter. So my off-grid living experience hasn’t been so off-grid…
I miss my cabin, and my time there. I’m working to find a balance between he and I, here and there. My land and the cabin, and another small, rustic cabin hold great potential as a writer’s retreat or just a peaceful get-away. You wanna come stay?
I am currently working on the quintessential book on growing lavender in our Montana climate. I must consult a half dozen potential lavender farmers each year. Soon, Western Montana will be as saturated with the purple, fragrant herb as Sequim, Washington, where I first got turned on to it. As well, I am working on at least two other books: Rosalie My Mother’s Story; a memoir, and compiling 18 years of a quarterly garden/farm newsletter Earth Nurture into a book. I still work with landscape design and consulting, strategizing with my clients on how to make it work for them in an efficient manner.
I write movie reviews, concert articles and reviews, I have propositions to two newspapers for a garden/farm/off grid column. I blog, I YELP. I have no idea what ‘writer’s block’ even means. I have been a chronicler my whole life. I have scads of handwritten notes, journals, feelings, insights, perceptions, travel journals…I am only just begun at age 50! Writing is my new incarnation.