*Photography by Samantha Levi
Kansas City is far from the desert and the tropics, but you can still find a slice of both climates in the East Crossroads.
Paradise Garden Club opened on Black Friday last year. The nursery, which is nearly as large as a regulation basketball court, is home to hundreds of plant species with the help of plenty of grow lights—including a thousand-watt high-pressure sodium grow globe—and industrial humidifiers.
Houseplant trends have sprouted over the past few years, and millennials are turning their homes into green-filled urban jungles. We can’t blame them—scientific studies have shown that houseplants lower mental and physical stress and even purify the air through their leaves.
When husband-wife duo and Paradise owners Matt Lett and Jessica Teliczan moved to California in 2017, they got into growing tropical plants. “We lived in San Diego and everything was so easy to take care of out there,” Teliczan says. “We learned that, yes, you can have a yard that’s not covered in grass.”
With that confidence and the relationships formed with desert plant growers, the two opened Plant KC in Midtown last June before reconceptualizing to Paradise Garden Club in November. Some plants in the store are sourced locally while a number of tropical and desert-bound species—like the thirty-plus cacti that reach up to four feet tall in the store’s massive soil- and gravel-filled pit—are driven up Arizona and Florida.
Lett says that plants are the third best-selling retail item in the world right now, but he wants Paradise Garden Club to be an experience, not just a store. The expansive space has its own kitchen for vegan chef tutorials and community tables for potting classes, and the owners plan to install a projector and screen for movie nights. The garden club also offers a plant consultation and coaching program where plant experts evaluate a home or office to determine what types of plants will thrive in a given space based on sunlight, design and care needs.