Gardening is the ultimate measure of control because the gardener must perfectly regulate each element: temperature, water, soil and sunlight. Total control makes a fulfilling form of self-care in a spiraling world rife with a raging pandemic, political instability and racial tensions.
For Black gardeners like Mickel Rambus, and Black-owned floral design companies like Open Tabs Studio, gardening is an oasis in the storm.
Rambus, a 37-year-old D.C. resident and Prince George’s County, Md. native, started growing as a tradition. Her grandmother had a garden in her native Trinidad and Tobago. Her mother passed on the tradition by giving Rambus her first plant.
Before the pandemic, Rambus looked forward to gardening, but it has now taken on a new meaning.
Inspired by master gardener Ron Finley, Rambus started growing edible plants such as mint, cilantro, basil and tomatoes, using them in various aspects of daily living, from eating to air filtration.
A PASSION FOR FLOWERS.
A specialist in floral design, arrangement and strategy, Open Tabs Studio aims to “allow our tribe [customers] to find joy in the process and dare to envelop the power of being with and of yourself.”
Two young Black women, both D.C. transplants and graduates of historically Black colleges, started this company at the height of the pandemic. Umarah Mughnee, 26, of Charlotte, N.C. and Blaire Bradford, 27, of Dallas, Texas “created Open Tabs Studio on friendship and vices.” Mughnee said, “It actually started out as an idea for a lifestyle podcast, but throughout quarantine, we discovered that we both shared the same passion for flowers.”
Mughnee and Bradford’s business is further anchored by the fact that they have familial backgrounds dealing with gardening and flower arraignment.
Mughnee’s mantra, “I do it for my ancestors,” comes full circle with cultivating safe spaces with flowers. She added, “The gift of life allows you to become extremely involved in the process of growth and learning to trust that process. Flowers and plants take care of us just as we take care of them.”
Bradford followed up on this by saying, “Flowers are a love language.”
“Neighbors,” a collaborative pop-up event held at Erica Barnes’ Village, serves as the community’s soft introduction to Open Tabs Studios during Valentine’s Day weekend (Feb. 13–14). Mughnee and Bradford said they hope to “provide space to be and become. Open Tabs curates to experience divinity in the details, from blooming to rebirth.”
From the personal experience of home gardening to a collaborative floral arrangement business, the act of growing helps to heal the mind, body and spirit during times of chaos.