A study of the symbiotic relationship between humans and the gardens they tend to.
At OR.CA, our work begins by understanding that it doesn’t end — a landscape is an ongoing dialogue, shaped by seasons and in response to our environments. Plants + People is an ongoing exploration of what it looks like to plant roots, to honor cycles, to inhabit space, and to accept impermanence through the perspectives of individuals we admire.
To spend time with Kerrilynn Pamer is to understand the organic paths where life leads—with her chapters weaving between an upbringing amidst nature, through New York City-saturated vibrancy, and leading to her present-day home in the slowed-down rhythm of the California canyons. As founder of the digital wellness destination CAP Beauty, Kerrilynn’s home in the Malibu hills reflects a prioritizing of deliberate solace, with a home set against the backdrop of nature and an expansive landscape that invites a natural contemplation and journeying inward.
Read on for a conversation with Kerrilynn on how a childhood neighbor sparked her wonder with plants and her life’s greatest metaphor always comes back to gardening.
"The land is quiet and smells like sage and dry air and our garden feels like a deep breath, a place to relax, restore and tend to." Kerrilynn Pamer
Describe how your garden: feels, smells, sounds, tastes.
The land is quiet and smells like sage and dry air and our garden feels like a deep breath, a place to relax, restore and tend to. I've dreamt of having an outdoor space for so long, that sometimes it feels unreal. Quite literally a blessing. It's starting to taste delicious too, as we just planted some vegetables with the help of Lily of Sustainable Landscapes. I'm looking forward to watching it grow and become more and more a part of my daily life.
What is your first or earliest memory of being in a garden?
Growing up I had the kindest neighbor, Mr. Beaumier. He took me under his wing and showed me the beauty of having a garden and shared the work that went into it and the results of those efforts. We spent so much time tending to his garden and post gardening he would have a glass of red wine and he would pour me a large glass of lemonade and set me up with a plate of red licorice. This was all with opera in the background as his wife was the local opera instructor. My friendship with him informed so much of my childhood and encouraged a deep love for gardening, plants. And opera.
Can you share more about your relationship to planning and preparing your garden throughout the year? What are some seasonal steps you consider or take?
I don't have enough experience or time in our garden to answer this one with any authority!
‘Serpents’ (Serpents Blue Chalk Fingers)
This fast-growing, upright succulent has long, narrow blue-green foliage. Drought tolerant and great in a sunny, low-water garden. Plant in a garden bed, border, or container. This succulent can grow up to 18 inches tall and 4 feet wide.
Where did your gardening sensibility come from? Is it something you’ve learned through careful cultivation? Or have you had a sensitivity to the living world that makes this more possible?
I'm completely untrained. I listen to my gut and dive into what I think is beautiful and what I'd like to live with. My husband has an even deeper curiosity and passion than I do for the garden, so I more often than not take his lead and follow his vision.
Do you use plants medicinally? What is your plant routine?
I don't know how to separate my life from plants, they are woven into every part of my day. My routine is the plants, I just listen.
What plants are currently in your garden? What’s thriving?
We have a small cooking garden with some herbs, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, chiles and some volunteers that made their way into the mix (love them!). Because of where we live succulents and olive trees are always happy. Gardening is a new venture for us, so we're finding our way with it, and watching it as it starts to grow into a living landscape.
What plants do you use for cooking or healing?
Salad is a big part of our eating routine and I lean heavily into greens to feel my best. I drink a green juice daily for taste, but also for health. And of course Matcha: in the kitchen as a daily drink or ingredient, and also in the bathroom as a healing, calming mask.
Hybrid tea roses come in a range of colors and feature a wonderful fragrance in the garden. These shrub roses are great in a cutting garden or border, and will grow well in a container. Plant in full sun to light shade.
What are your plans for your garden in the next 5 years?
I want it to grow, both literally and figuratively. I dream of eating the majority of our meals from the garden, and making all our pantry staples from our land. I also love the idea of having a flower garden to make huge, wild and breathtaking arrangements with.
(Mother of Millions, Chandelier Plant, Devil’s Backbone)
Native to Madagascar, this succulent plant produces plantlets at the margins of its long, narrow leaves. It has orange, trumpet-shaped blooms. Easy to grow, plant it in a container or in a sunny garden bed. Plant in full sun to light shade.
This upright shrub is native to Australia and has a soft-textured gray foliage. It turns a flushed pink with new growth and when in bloom, features small red flowers at the base of the leaves. It can grow up to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Plant in full sun to light shade, in well-draining soil.
"I don't know how to separate my life from plants, they are woven into every part of my day. My routine is the plants, I just listen." Kerrilynn Pamer
An upright succulent with cylindrical, lime-green stems. This plant can grow up to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It blooms in the fall and features small fragrant flowers. Lovely in a drought tolerant garden or container. Plant in full sun to light shade.