• Avant Gardener Profile: Leslie David

    Clara Mary Joy

    Meet Leslie David, artistic director at Leslie David Studio and the artist behind the visual world of Sowvital. We spent some time with Leslie at her home in Paris talking about the influence of plants on her career and life.

    In your own words, can you introduce yourself and describe what you do professionally.

    My name is Leslie David, artist and artistic director. I created a design studio in which we support brands, places or artists in the creation of their image. With my team in the studio, we have imagined the identity of the Sowvital brand since its inception. We take care of the creative design of the products, but also of the retail and digital communication. It is an exciting and rich adventure! We have now all become unbeatable on plants, even if we loved them from the start.

    Where do you live?

    I live in Paris in the 18th arrondissement, on the top floor of a building from the late 70s, full of windows and light, my plants love it! I am lucky to have a small garden terrace where all kinds of plants grow and even trees that I have to prune every year. The year we moved there was a beautiful Japanese cherry blossom tree. It died a few months after we arrived, the previous owner told us they had a strong bond…

    Where do you look for advice on your plants?

    Hello? Mom?

    With my mother, we regularly update each other on our plants, we do facetime-plants. If I have a doubt or a question, I always turn to her. I love when I'm travelling, and send her photos of a tree or a plant that I don't know or whose name I can't find anymore and challenge her, she often has the answer to everything!
    Monstera and devil’s Ivy leaves grow from a terracotta pot above a cupboard full of stuff with plates, bowls, etc.
    A collection of potted plants, a Chinese money plant, a red Kalanchoe plant, succulents, etc. on the window shelf with a big light bulb.
    Few pots of plants, a pot of flowers, 2 empty terracotta pots, gardening gloves and secateurs (gardening shears) on the table.
    Leslie David is holding a pot of Monstera in front of her and there are some paintings, and art on the white wall shelf.
    How do you feel your plants fit into your home space, complement it or challenge it?

    My houseplants have a slightly invasive side... I like them a lot but the more time passes, the more space they take up, I tend to forget that sometimes..

    I have decided to stop buying indoor plants and focus on outdoor plants now!

    Has anyone in your family or a friend passed on their taste for plants to you? How did this happen?

    Definitely my mother, when I was a child I was her assistant in the garden, it never lasted too long and I ended up climbing trees very quickly but I loved it anyway. I remember that she made me collect purslane seeds. I had to wait for the right moment for the membrane to be dry and remove it very meticulously, then with tweezers I had to remove the seeds and put them in a box. It is a very precise and complete childhood memory that also goes with particular smells.

    Do you share cuttings with friends or family? Do you have any rituals around that?

    Yes a lot! I like plants to have a story, I buy very few of them in fact, most are either gifts or cuttings made while travelling or by friends. I like to think of my family and friends as I watch them grow. A few years ago I took a wonderful spring walk in Provence and I brought back some little succulents that were growing on the side of the road, I planted them without much hope in my little garden and they have been really good, I think back to this time with the family when I see them, I love it.
    Leslie David growing plants on the table in her full-of-green-plants backyard.
    There are two plates, one with lots of stones and the other covered with some unknown stuff. There are two colourful glasses of cups with a book being opened with a lemon tree and some flowers on the page.
    Leslie David takes care of a pot of plant in her studio which are covered with a full collection of plants in the room. And there are some mushroom-shaped wooden decorations on the table.
    Leslie David takes care of a pot of plant in her studio which are covered with a full collection of plants in the room. And there are some mushroom-shaped wooden decorations on the table.
    What do you do with your plants when you go on a trip?

    My caretaker comes to water my plants when I'm away, but in August it's so dry and hot that when I get home everything is half burnt. It's one of the first things I do when I come back from vacation in general, to see the damage… I am always surprised to see that in the spring everything is back to normal and that everything is green and lush again. Nature does it well!

    How do your plants influence your mood and state of mind?

    Having healthy plants and discovering regular new shoots with minimal effort is very rewarding, the ratio of time spent / pleasure felt is really satisfying, and with each new shoot I have a feeling of self-satisfaction which, I'm sure, has a boosting effect.

    I am quite prone to winter depression and seeing the first bulbs bloom at the end of winter gives me hope and keeps me going on the home stretch. Each flower that blooms is like a small victory over the cold and bad weather (and bad mood), it is a great cure for my mood.

    Do you eat or cook any of your plants?

    This year I will grow vegetables, I will start with radishes and tomatoes, it seems easy, we'll see! I have a huge rosemary in my garden that I have to prune every year and that I use a lot in cooking and herbal teas. It's antioxidant, and good for the liver (I think)!
    Leslie David plants flowers in a pot with new soil on a white table and there is a green trowel covered with soil next to it with a pot of plants.
    A photoshoot of Leslie David sitting in her studio surrounded by a collection of plants and flowers.
    Two pots of flowers, an empty terracotta pot, gardening tools and a pair of gloves on the white table and white chair in the garden. There are two bags of soil for plants on the floor.
    A pot of Impatiens balsamina, Angel wing begonia, Chinese money plant, Schlumbergera truncata (cactus) and an avocado-like plant on a yellow table.
    Where do you find inspiration for your plants?

    It's not necessarily for inspiration but I collect gardening books from the 70s/80s, I love the illustrations and the way the plants are represented. I don't really read them but sometimes, almost by chance, I find some advice there. I also scan them quite a bit to retrieve images and make collages.

    Do you have a routine to take care of your plants?

    I try to comply with the routine of weekly watering on Sunday. Since beginning to use Sowvital’s Elixir I see the difference in growth speed, it's crazy. When I don't have any more, I feel guilty, I feel like a bad mother.

    I also give them baths regularly and as I'm a little too lazy to wash the leaves one by one. I give them showers from time to time to remove the dust (but yes, afterwards there are traces of limestone...)

    We extend our deepest gratitude to Leslie for allowing us into her home, and hope you enjoyed joining us on the journey into her world, and how flora fits within it.
    Leslie David is sitting on the chair taking care of the Angel wing begonia plant on a white marble table in her studio, surrounded by a collection of house plants.