Got the winter blues? This new plant studio in New Bedford's Kilburn Mill has a cure.

·3 min read

NEW BEDFORD — During the first cold snap of 2022, the owner of Star Garden Studio decided her time was better spent at her studio surrounded by hundreds of plants, sunlight and greenery.

“It helps you to see green. Green represents life and growth," said owner Crystal Brinson. "It's a way to ground yourself to the earth. Being able to take care of a plant gives you a sense of accomplishment.”

The studio, located on the first floor of Kilburn Mill, houses an assortment of plants from two-inch miniature potted plants to 10-inch house plants that are easy care species suitable to grow in any home.

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“There's some plants that are really durable that make your success rate tend to be more positive," she said.

“As much as I'd love to have all the great exotic plants from Thailand and other places, the reality is they don't tend to be very happy in the average home."

Brinson says her favorites are philodendrons because of its heart shaped leaves and durability. It can weather any condition. She displays some of her personal collection in the giant mill windows.

Detail photo of some of the plants for sale at the newly opened Star Garden Studio on the first floor of the Killburn Mill on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford.
Detail photo of some of the plants for sale at the newly opened Star Garden Studio on the first floor of the Killburn Mill on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford.

The studio also sells peperomias, begonias, tradescantias, and pathos — all perfect for beginners or people who forget to water regularly.

“I always say, if you can keep it alive for six months to a year, then you've done an amazing job because plants really belong outside," Brinson said.

Aside from plants, the shop sells an assortment of eclectic pottery, stone-carved animals and items such as a faux stone planters made by an artist in New Bedford. The shop also sells soaps and other locally handmade products.

Plants are her life

Born and raised in Norwich, Connecticut, Brinson said her love for plants started with her grandmother who had a vegetable garden.

"It’s pretty much been my whole life," she said.

Crystal Brinson holds up small cactus at the newly opened Star Garden Studio on the first floor of the Killburn Mill on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford.
Crystal Brinson holds up small cactus at the newly opened Star Garden Studio on the first floor of the Killburn Mill on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford.

Brinson worked at retail garden centers such as Salem Country Gardens in Connecticut as well as an interior landscape company. In 2000, she moved to New Bedford and now resides in Fairhaven.

In 2015, Brinson launched Crystal Brinson Horticulture Inc., a garden design business that caters to clients around the SouthCoast.

"Owning a business is really what suits my personality best," she said. “I enjoy the process of garden design.... It's also an artistic expression of using plants, textures, and colors.”

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However, Brinson said she missed the retail experience, too. "I liked having customers come in with plant questions," she said. "Then they would come back and have a success.

"That really is what's most important to me, the customer's success."

In 2020, Brinson opened Star Garden Studio on the second floor of Kilburn Mill. Then, moved to the first floor in September 2021.

Plants are the major item for sale at the newly opened Star Garden Studio on the first floor of the Killburn Mill on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford.
Plants are the major item for sale at the newly opened Star Garden Studio on the first floor of the Killburn Mill on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford.

Houseplants help during the pandemic

Another reason Brinson wanted to open her shop was to offer a way for people to feel better while in quarantine during the pandemic.

"With everyone being isolated, having the access to a plant gives you some connection to nature," she said. "Plants help in all regards."

According to a USAToday article, houseplants and indoor gardening was a popular pastime during the 2020 pandemic. In fact, houseplant sales saw a significant increase.

The Journal of Health Psychology says gardening is a great stress reliever. Just 30 minutes of gardening lowers cortisol hormones known as the the fight-or-flight response.

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And a 1989 NASA study proved that plants can remove (cancer-causing) toxins such as benzene and formaldehyde from indoor air. Plants can also remove allergens and produce oxygen in a room.

Although Brinson still works with her gardening clients to plan for the upcoming spring, she says she enjoys the winter to unwind while the outdoor plants are sleeping. But, her shop is also a great way for her to stay social.

Crystal Brinson at the entrance to her newly opened Star Garden Studio on the first floor of the Killburn Mill on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford.
Crystal Brinson at the entrance to her newly opened Star Garden Studio on the first floor of the Killburn Mill on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford.

"People know that they can always come here with a plant question. I will be here to answer that for them," she said.

Star Garden Studio is open Fri. 10 a.m to 2 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sun 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Standard-Times staff writer Seth Chitwood can be reached at schitwood@s-t.com. Follow him on twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.

This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: Star Garden Studio at New Bedford's Kilburn Mill sells houseplants

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