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February 8, 2024 56 mins

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What's up, Plant People? Today's episode blooms with the extraordinary tale of Kay Luther, a Chelsea Flower Show gold medalist turned game developer whose story is as rich and vibrant as the gardens she designs. In an industry where creativity and adaptation are as crucial as soil to seed, Kay shares her journey from the flower-bedecked lanes of Chelsea to the pixel-perfect landscapes of her serene game, "Garden Life." As she weaves tales of her floristry days, the artistry behind each bouquet, and the social media-driven resurgence of houseplants, we're reminded of the unique beauty in every career transition.

Venturing into the heart of the floral design world, we uncover the parallels between arranging flowers and fashion, reflecting on how both fields dance to the rhythm of societal trends. Kay's anecdotes about the meticulous crafting of award-winning floral pieces for the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show draw a vivid picture of success and the humility that walks alongside it. We also turn the soil on "Garden Life," exploring how Kay's floristry skills have blossomed into game development, nurturing a project that marries the unpredictability of nature with the tranquility of gaming.

As we wrap up our time with Kay, the conversation turns towards the emotional investment in launching a new venture and the importance of embracing diverse career paths. With a nod to the cozy gaming community and the floral industry's future, we're invited to consider how our own experiences can cross-pollinate and flourish in unexpected ways. We also get a glimpse into the excitement building up to the release of "Garden Life," where players can cultivate their digital green thumb, and find out where to connect with this budding gaming experience online. Join us in this episode for a tapestry of life lessons, career insights, and the celebration of new growth, both in our gardens and ourselves.


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Planthropology is written, hosted, and produced by Vikram Baliga. Our theme song is "If You Want to Love Me, Babe, by the talented and award-winning composer, Nick Scout.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
What is up?
Plant people it's time onceagain for the Plant Thepology
podcast, the show where we diveinto the lives and careers of
some very, very cool plantpeople to figure out why they do
what they do and what keepsthem coming back for more.
I'm Vikram Baliga, your hostand your humble guide in this
journey through the greensciences and, as always, my
friends, I am so excited to bewith you today.
Y'all, this was my firstinterview that I got to record

(00:22):
in six months maybe a little bitmore and I'm excited for you to
get to hear it because it was alot of fun.
This guest actually reached outto me, or her team reached out
to me, and I'm not used to teamscontacting me like people, with
teams being like, hey, it's anew experience for me, but I was
so excited to get this emailbecause it's such a cool thing.

(00:43):
So my guest for today is KayLuther, who is an experienced
florist.
She's worked in the floraldesign industry since she was a
teenager and has won a goldmedal at the Chelsea Flower Show
, which is cooler than anythingI've ever accomplished in my
entire life, which is amazing.
And she's the producer on anupcoming game called Garden Life

(01:06):
, which is a garden simulator.
It's a cozy game and it lookslike it's so much fun.
I'd actually seen the trailerfor Garden Life well before
Kay's team ever approached meabout doing this interview and
about collaborating with them,and then it was just such a
thrill to get to hear from them.
So you're going to hear aboutKay's past.
You'll hear about herexperience as a florist and her
take on the floral designindustry and what it's like to

(01:27):
work in a flower shop and whatcompeting in something as big
and amazing as the ChelseaFlower Show is like.
She also talks quite a bitabout her experience in getting
into game production and whatall goes into making a new game,
because that's something that,for me, is completely out of my
realm of experience, and so itwas so amazing getting to pick
her brain and hear her thoughtsand just learn a little bit more

(01:51):
about something that I verymuch enjoyed video games and
about a game that I'm, quitefrankly, excited about and just
everything that goes into andhow she got into it.
So, just as an early plug, we'regoing to say the several times
throughout the episode GardenLife is live on Xbox or is
available on Xbox, playstation,pc and some other places as of

(02:12):
February 22nd 2024.
And I believe it will be onswitch in March.
So preorder that if you'relistening to this as it comes
out, or if you're into thefuture, go pick it up and play
it, but without too much moreyammering at you.
I want you to hear this amazinginterview with my new friend,
kay Luther.
Okay, I am so excited to haveyou with me today.

(02:45):
This is my first face to faceinterview or virtual interview
I've done with someone in awhile and I'm really excited to
get to talk to you.
So thanks for coming on.
We're so excited to have you aspart of Planth apology.

Speaker 2 (02:59):
Thank you so much for inviting me.
It's a real honor to be askedand to be the first person back
off for a bit of a break as well.

Speaker 1 (03:09):
Yeah, it's exciting for me as well.
So introduce yourself a littlebit.
Tell our guests about who youare, where you're from and what
you do.

Speaker 2 (03:23):
Okay, so my name is Kay Luther, I am a game
development producer and we areabout to release a game called
Garden Life.
In my previous career I was aflorist and floral designer, so
I have come from a background ofworking with nature for a very
long time.
I did that career for 15 ishyears.
Now it's coming up Because Istill keep a hand in.

(03:47):
Obviously it's very difficultto get out of so I was, but yeah
, it's, you can't give up theplants.
It's very difficult.
I grew up in Bournemouth in theUnited Kingdom, which is Dorset
, so south coast, on the beach,and I've been a gamer and always
into nature my entire life, sothis became a perfect

(04:10):
collaboration for me.

Speaker 1 (04:13):
That's so cool and that's, I think, such a
different take on just thenatural science industry, the
green science industry, becauseit shows just a whole different
facet of different ways toapproach plants and nature and
all that.
So you mentioned that you'vealways been a gamer.
You've always loved nature.

(04:34):
What kind of games did you playgrowing up?

Speaker 2 (04:39):
Oh, growing up.
So even when I was quite little, my dad got me into gaming from
about the age of four or five,so I don't know if you're going
to know any of them like Rivenand Mist, those were his
favorite games, played them alot something called Little Big
Adventures as well.
That was sort of my firstintroduction to it.

(05:01):
And then I discovered FinalFantasy and PlayStation one and
kind of the world expanded forme in terms of games there.
Yeah, I found myself absolutelyloving RPGs and anything that
was beautiful, so anything thathad like really nice graphics to
it, and I really kind of fellin love with gaming that way and
the escapism of it.

Speaker 1 (05:23):
That's awesome.
And so just just hearing aboutsome of the games you've played
there's a lot of I don't knowworld building, these expansive
vistas and scenery and all ofthat and thinking about I've
watched some of the trailers forGarden Life and it I don't know
, it has this whole verybeautiful feel to it that you
might see in this big epic gameand more of a cozy take on it,

(05:47):
and we'll, I think, approachthat a little bit later in the
episode.
Just talking more about thegame specifically, because I'm
so interested in this I can'twait to pick up a copy for
myself.
But what you said, that you'vealways loved nature, what got
you interested in that?
I mean, did you go out as afamily?
Is that the kind of thing youdid when you were young?

Speaker 2 (06:08):
Yeah, my family are very outdoorsy so they love
going for walks and sort ofgoing around garden centers.
My mum has always had a lovefor plants and flowers so I've
always been brought up with,every time you go on a walk,
that I would be told what plantsand flowers and trees.
She would name them all as wewere walking around.
And she's just learned that inher time and so I've always had

(06:31):
that side, which is really nice.
And I remember the things likegoing to my granny's house when
I was a kid and being asked togo and pick the lavender so she
could make lavender bags.
I mean that coupled with films,anything with Disney, for

(06:52):
example.
I used to absolutely loveDisney when I was a kid and when
you look at them and you lookback on them from a different
perspective, you see the amountof plants that are actually used
in these and then you see youstart noticing it in things like
games as well and it really canbuild a world and it kind of
got my interest peaked that youcan see that beauty elsewhere,

(07:13):
which is really cool.
So I've done a lot of outdoorseducation, let's say, from that
point.

Speaker 1 (07:20):
You know it's so funny you say that because so
I'm obviously the plant nerd guy.
That's apparently become myentire personality is that I'm
the plant guy.
But I have an eight year oldson and when we go out and going
to the zoo with me, I thinkmust be a really exhausting
experience, because my wife isan animal person, my son's

(07:42):
really an animals and I'll justbe off looking at trees.
You know there'll be a lion andI'll be like, oh, but this tree
is cool.
And then I'll tell them allabout it and they're both just
like Okay, like cool, can welook at the animal, it's almost
knee jerk.
I can't help it.

Speaker 2 (07:59):
Yeah, I'm the same.
My husband does exactly thesame.
When we're going out now andI'm like, oh, it's this plant
and used for this, this and this, and he's like I okay that.
Or stopping at people's housesand being like, oh, they've got
a different variety, I haven'tseen that one before.
That's also something of anembarrassment sometimes.

Speaker 1 (08:20):
Oh, it's okay.
So it's funny because we havesome similar experiences.
We, my wife and I, when my sonwas very little, would go walk
around one part of ourneighborhood and there were
three or four differentlandscapes that I just.
There were two that I reallyliked and two that I really just
didn't like for a variety ofreasons, and I would always take

(08:42):
like progress pictures.
So we would walk by and I'dpull out my phone I'd be taking
pictures of, like these people'shomes, which is probably creepy
.
My wife is like I have to stopdoing this.
You have to stop doing this.

Speaker 2 (08:55):
But did you get good progress pictures?

Speaker 1 (08:57):
Oh, absolutely Absolutely, and it's I use them
in.
Like you know, I'll cut out andmake sure there's no
identifying information and likeuse them in a presentation of
what's good about this landscape.
I'm always a little bit scaredthat the person who owns that
home is going to end up in myaudience one day.
I'm doing a public talk like oh, I'm so sorry.

Speaker 2 (09:18):
I'm sure they would be more interested to see the
photos of the progress of theirgarden rather than be annoyed.

Speaker 1 (09:25):
Yeah, maybe, so, maybe so.
So, as you were, you knowlearning about plants, do you
have any schooling or trainingin plant science?
What did you study?
As you were kind of goingthrough.

Speaker 2 (09:39):
So I did a.
I did a couple ofqualifications, all in floristry
, so I did my again it's talkingin English levels of like my
MBQ two and three in floristry.
And then I did a higher diplomain floristry as well, which is
the level four everyone calls it, and that was that was kind of

(10:01):
my formal education in intobotany, botany or anything to do
with that.
I didn't do anything atuniversity.
I'm not sort of I didn't godown the classic roads of
education and as part of that aswell, I got to get hands on
experience, because you had todo a set amount of work
experience alongside the courseto be able to pass.
So it was really good beingable to learn about it, study it

(10:24):
and, at the same time, beingable to work with it and
understand why it's important.
You need these things.

Speaker 1 (10:29):
That's so cool I need to.
I may pass on your informationto a couple of colleagues.
We have a floral design programhere at my university and they
teach.
It's taught as a creative art,so across the university
students take it.
They get a hands on labexperience and I'm excited to
share this episode, but alsojust some of your work with them

(10:50):
, because I think that's a coolstory for students to hear.
But really anyone who's tryingto figure out what they want to
do to hear is that there's somany paths into all these things
and, like, some people get theformal experience, some people
do, you know, outside trainingsand all of those things are

(11:11):
super cool ways to work intowhat you want to do in your life
and I love that story.
I think that's such a coolthing that that's something you
liked and you found ways to getthe knowledge you needed and got
to where you are today.
I think that's really neat.

Speaker 2 (11:25):
Yeah, it was.
I wasn't the best person whenit came to the education section
.
I didn't really enjoy theformal learning.
Let's say I loved anythingcreative, I loved making things,
I liked seeing things and thatwas very much more my learning
style.
So when I came to a point whereit was, I'd had something else

(11:50):
fall through and I had to pick acollege course very quickly.
Floristry really stood out tome because I'd had this kind of
upbringing of love of nature,loving being able to create
things, and I just went.
You know what this sounds likethe course for me, so it wasn't
necessarily a I'm going to dothis.
This is exactly what I want todo.
And even now I'm not a floristworking as a florist at the

(12:10):
moment.
I am now a games producer.
So there's always time to sortof change and adapt and still
keep the passion alive for thecore beliefs of knowing that you
like nature essentially.

Speaker 1 (12:22):
Yeah, that's awesome.
That's awesome.
So you know, you kind of talkedabout how you got into it and
how that fit into your earlylife, but my understanding is
that you started actually doingit professionally, like in a
flower shop, when you were quiteyoung.
How did that all come about?

Speaker 2 (12:40):
Yeah.
So, as I mentioned, you doplacements with the college
course, which is really great.
So you get introduced to a shopand they go, yes, we'll take
you on.
I mean, obviously, shops aregoing to love it, it's free work
and most of the time you getoffered a Saturday job and
you're like, oh, okay, I'll dothe Saturday job alongside it.

(13:01):
So I started working, doing theSaturday job stuff, and I really
want to do more.
I don't want to have to workanother couple of jobs to keep
my college going.
I want to do this full time anddo my college course.
So that's what I did, and I was16 when I started properly
working as an employed floristand I met some incredibly

(13:25):
helpful and encouraging shopowners who really kind of helped
me get to where I am today, andI really do.
I them all and I'm still incontact with them.
I still meet up with peoplethat I worked with when I was
quite young and now make themfeel very old, which is peak,

(13:45):
especially when I remind them,oh yes, no, I'm over 30 now and
they're like no, you're not.

Speaker 1 (13:53):
Yeah, so it's really good, that's awesome, and I
think I would like to hear, I'mcurious personally about just a
little bit of your experienceand working in these types of or
in this type of a place,because I think people go to the
florist or the supermarket orwherever they sell bouquets of
flowers and arrangements andthings like that and have no

(14:16):
concept of everything that goesinto that.
Because the little bit I'vegleaned from my colleagues who
teach floral design and work infloral design the stuff here is
that there's so much to it,there's so much to think about
and so much to remember, fromthe design side to the plant
materials and all of that.
So can you sort of withoutgiving you too vague of a

(14:38):
question, can you give us justsome thoughts and maybe an
overview of what it's like to bein that industry, what it's
like to work in a shop like this?

Speaker 2 (14:46):
Yeah.
So the first thing I will sayis every shop will give you a
different experience.
So it's really hard to kind ofsay that it will be like this.
It's different.
It's a vast industry, sothere's obviously different
parts that you can go into andshops tend to sort of have a
preference to which side of thework they go for, whether it's

(15:07):
the gift side or the weddingside, or events or funerals.
They're all sort of differentskill sets and also different
customers and clients that youwork with on a regular basis.
It is very much an underratedskill.
From the customer side ofthings to the technical side of

(15:29):
floral design.
You need to have both.
You need to be able to sort oftalk to people, understand what
they want, when they're notnecessarily knowing what they
want and being able to createtheir vision.
So it is a very challengingindustry in that side of things.
I think for floral design andeverything, there's a lot of

(15:51):
technicalities out there.
What I absolutely love about itis that it's ever changing.
If I was to walk back into ashop now and probably do
something that I would have donefive years ago, they'd look at
me like it was crazy and say whyaren't you doing it this way,
it's a real fast pace.
There's always new techniques,always new inspiration.
It works with fashion as well.

(16:12):
It's very similarities betweenthe fashion industry and floral
design.

Speaker 1 (16:16):
It's an interesting comparison.
I guess I hadn't really thoughtof it that way, but that makes
a lot of sense, that trendschange and materials change and
what people are interested in.
That's really an apt comparisonbetween the floral design
industry and the fashionindustry.
I would say the same is eventrue on the live plant side.

(16:38):
In the landscape industry.
It maybe changes a little moreslowly in some ways.
But I know when I was doing itprofessionally oh gosh, 10 years
ago now that's a littleupsetting to think about.
The styles I see out there, theways that landscapes are built
and put together and everythingare so different even just in
the last decade from when I wasdoing it.

(16:59):
In my head somewhere I'm likewell, the plants that grow here,
the plants that grow here, theydon't change that much whatever
.
But it is interesting how muchsort of just public perception
and what's going on in the worldand what's going on in fashion
in a lot of ways changes that.
That's a cool thought.

Speaker 2 (17:18):
Yeah, I think you're right with saying it changes a
little more slowly because a lotof landscape you take longer to
be able to get the results.
It's not a quick.
I mean not to say that thefloristry and floral design is
quick, but it's quicker thantrying to grow a garden.
But I'm sure you get the samekind of sense of when you a new
variety of a plant comes out andyou're like, oh, that changes

(17:42):
things.
Even when you go to olderproperties and you look at the
way the gardens are landscaped,it's very different to how
they're landscaped now becausethe use of them have changed.
So when we change our habits,the style of things change.
Just where I was saying withfashion.
So fashion in wedding industry,let's say, for example, wedding

(18:02):
dresses change every year.
Every year there's a new styleof dress and that is the dress
that everybody is after.
You need your bouquet to matchyour dress.
The bouquet is changed everyyear and it's a follow on kind
of thing.
It's the same with house plantsas well.
At the moment, obviously, it'sstill very popular to have a lot
of house plants in your houseand being able to sort of cover

(18:23):
a wall, for example, with all ofyour plants.
It's really wonderful and it'sa fashion at the moment.
You can date that back toVictorian area, when it was a
very statement to have certainplants in the house, for example
.

Speaker 1 (18:36):
Yeah, House plants are very like Instagrammable
right now.
I think about this a lotbecause when I was in college in
the early 2000s so I startedcollege in 2005, got into
horticulture and all that thatwas not cool.
I was not cool for being theplant guy.
People still had house plantsand liked house plants.

(18:57):
But as social media has sort ofskyrocketed over the past
couple of decades and people aretaking more snapshots and
little pictures of their lifeand trying to, it kind of works
both ways.
There's this weird feedbackloop where people try to make
their houses more Instagrammableand then Instagram changes the

(19:18):
way they think about their homesand things like that.
Yeah, Now being the plant guyis relevant and that's not
something I ever saw coming whenI was going through school.
I was just like I like plants,I like gardening and landscaping
, I just want to do this.
But it's an interesting trendthat I hope keeps going for a
while because it lets me have apodcast and do social media and

(19:39):
all that stuff, so I'm okay withit.

Speaker 2 (19:42):
I mean, yeah, it's really great that being the
plant nerd or the flower nerd,as I used to call it for me has
now become a fashionable thing.
Before you know, florists werekind of seen as older people who
sat in a shop, and now it's alittle bit more fashionable.
People have a lot more in theirhomes and, yeah, the house
plant boom is fantastic.

(20:03):
I don't have the patience forit.
I really commend everybody whohas one of those Instagrammable
homes with loads of house plants.
I don't have an excuse now.
I always use the excuse that Iworked with plants all the time
so I didn't want to come homeand take care of plants.
And now the thought of buying alot of house plants is pretty,
as it would be.
I'm just like oh yeah, but thecare behind it and the attention

(20:26):
it's a lot to do.

Speaker 1 (20:30):
It's a lot of work.
Oh, I use that excuseconstantly.
By the way, I have run ourgreenhouse on campus I've
stepped out of that role for thepast nearly six years and I'm
like, oh, I dealt with tropicalplants all day.
Now I just have a bunch ofcrappy looking house plants in
my house and I'm just like, well, I'm just not good at it, this
is not my thing.

Speaker 2 (20:50):
It's fine, it's absolutely fine.
I think everybody who workswith them has this situation at
home.
I've even got a piece ofartwork on my wall which is like
a dead plant and just been likethe florist plant.

Speaker 1 (21:03):
That's funny.
Completely apropos of nothing,there's a dried leak on my
bulletin board in my office thatsomebody had put in my office
one day and I put googly eyesand a mustache on it and now I
can see it over the top of mycomputer it's my friend in my
office.
So one thing I definitelywanted to discuss with you is

(21:26):
you know this, but our listenersmay not that you are an award
winning florist.
You're not just a someone who'sworked in a shop.
You are decorated for your workand you competed and exhibited
at the Chelsea Floral Show.
How did that come about?
Tell us about that.
That is such a cool thing.

Speaker 2 (21:45):
Yeah, so when I first started my college course, they
did a trip to go to ChelseaFlower Show because, obviously,
being in England, it's only acouple of hours away and it's a
real big thing, absolutelyfantastic.
And we went there and my eyesjust opened.
I was really young and I waslike I really want to do this,
this is what I want to do.
And I saw the young florists ofthe year competitions happening

(22:09):
and at the time I was quiteyoung, I had long hair and it
was a year that they had hats asthe competition piece, so it
was like hats that you'd wear toAscot or something.
And they asked me to put one ofthese things on my head and I
was like, yeah, of course, not aproblem.
And then I took a good look atit and I went I can do this.

(22:31):
And that was that inspiration.
It was that moment that I justwent okay, I want to win this
one day.
And that's where it kind ofstarted is a little bit of an
obsession that I wanted to getthat to that point.
I saw that and I really wantedto go for it.
I didn't get there easily.
It wasn't a smooth journey, soit doesn't work like this now I

(22:56):
don't know how it works now, sothis is very outdated
information, but what you had todo is compete in heats.
So you had to do regional heatsthat you would get marked on a
set piece that you would bringin and then you'd have to win
that to go through to ChelseaFlower Show to compete in the
final.
And I did a couple of thosefailed miserably, obviously.

(23:16):
First time.
Second time, I got through.
In the first time that I was atChelsea Flower Show I was so
excited, but the piece that Imade I am embarrassed of it was
so bad and I got marked reallybadly and I was just, I wasn't
devastated because I'd gottenthere and I went.
Okay, I now know what I didwrong and it took me two more
attempts and the second time Iwent I got a silver medal.

(23:38):
That was the oh gosh.
Year is 2012,.
I think that I got the silvermedal.
It was the Queen's DiamondJubilee.
It was a big chandelier that Imade, and for the year that I
won the title Young Florist ofthe Year and the Gold Medal, it
was 2016 and it was a Brazilianheaddress that had to be

(24:02):
wearable for someone to dance ina carnival.
So yeah, it was a journey.
It wasn't easy, it took yearsto get there, but I did and I
was very happy with that.

Speaker 1 (24:13):
So cool and I've seen pictures of the floral
headdress you designed and it'sincredible.
I mean, it's stunning, it'sbeautiful.
Thank you.
I know it's been a few years,but what do you remember?
What kind of plant materialsyou used, what kind of flowers
you picked?
It was very much in like thered orange color scheme, if I
remember correctly.

Speaker 2 (24:32):
Yeah, I used sort of reds and cerises through to
yellow, a very kind of burntyellow, though I can remember
the flowers that I used becauseit's a list of my favorites of
competition work and I havereminders on my tattoos of what
flowers I actually ended upgoing for.

(24:53):
So one of the things I alwaysused to start with was hanging
anamaranthus, in particular theGreen Goddess one, one of my
favorites I also used now Ialways say this one wrong, so I
know how to spell these.
I'm not so good at saying them.
Onythagolom or Chincherinchie.
Use the orange, one of that.

(25:14):
Renunculus, various types ofroses, miniature and large
phallinopsis, orchids, gloriosa,sinechio.
Knowing me, I would have usedSinechio, definitely I'm not
looking at it now, I feel likeI've forgotten half of it.
But yeah, so I tended to usethose kind of flowers and it was

(25:37):
all glued onto a wool base, soI used a lot of aluminium, wire
and wool.
When you can seal the flowerswith a special floral glue and
then you can place them as youwish, and, being able to use the
wool, you can spray itbeforehand and it keeps it that
fresh for just a few more dayslonger.

(25:58):
Yeah, because it gets very hotin those tents.

Speaker 1 (26:04):
I bet it does.
And that seems like such a longand detailed process and I'll
share the news article that Isaw about your headdress and
some things, with the show notesand this, just so people can
take a look at it because it isgorgeous, it's so cool and it's

(26:26):
you know, I bet that's a coolthing just to have in your I
don't know resume or just inyour back pockets and oh, you
know, I'm a gold medalist andaward winner at the Chelsea
Flower Show Like that's a coolthing.
I would tell people that allthe time.

Speaker 2 (26:42):
Yeah, it's really cool.
This is where I go, veryBritish, and feel like, oh no, I
don't blow my own trumpet.
I try not to do it so much, butI get told off for not talking
about it enough.
So, yes, it is really awesome.
It is such a big achievement.
I could not believe it when Iwon it.

(27:03):
Anyone at that competition willtell you that I did not think
I'd got it that year, and it was.
It was just a fantastic way tostart the year at that time.

Speaker 1 (27:14):
Very cool.
Well, we'll take a quick break.
I'm going to run a midroll realquick and when we come back I
want to talk about garden lifeand how game development works
and how you got into that,because that is again such a
cool thing, and then we'll getsome of your thoughts on the
future and and let you plug thegame for a while.
So take a quick break, we'll beright back.
Well, hey, everyone, welcome tothe midroll.

(27:39):
It's good to see you here again.
How's your family?
Is your mom doing okay?
Have you given your dog ascratch on the head today?
Give them one from me.
Y'all, thanks so much forlistening and being a part of
the show.
As always, I hope you'veenjoyed the first half of this
interview with Kay and I'mexcited for you to hear more
about the game in the secondhalf of this interview.
But first I want to thank somepeople.
First, again, you.
You are the reason I do thisand you're the reason I get to

(28:01):
keep doing it.
Thanks also to the Texas TechDepartment of Plant and Soil
Science for sponsoring the showand supporting the show and for
just letting me do this.
It's amazing that I get to dothis.
Thanks to the PodFix Networkfor letting me be a part of the
network.
You should definitely go checkout the PodFix Network and our
PodFix family of PodFix shows.

(28:21):
I'm going to work that word ina few more times, if I can.
If you want to connect with me,you can find me all over social
media.
Unfortunately, I am the plantprof on Instagram and TikTok and
Facebook and wherever else Icould think to be YouTube.
Now, in fact, this podcast isgoing out on YouTube and if
you're watching on YouTube, I'mwaving at you right now and I'm

(28:41):
showing you something that I'mgoing to talk about here in a
minute.
But follow me all the places Iwould love to connect.
You can also get me atPlantropology or Plantropology
Pod on Instagram whatever thesmoking crater that was Twitter
is today, and on YouTube as well.
If you have any thoughts,comments, suggestions for
upcoming guests, if you justwant to tell me that I need to

(29:02):
change my hair and get a haircut, you can email me at
plantropologypodatgmailcom.
Lots of cool stuff coming upthis season on Plantropology.
I don't know if season is rightI don't really do seasons but
since I took six months off, I'mcalling this a new season, even
though you won't see thatanywhere else.
I've got some great interviewswith people from some of my

(29:22):
colleagues to climatologists, toentertainers and communicators
and authors and all kinds ofreally cool folks, so you're
going to want to stick aroundfor the rest of the season about
Plantropology.
And now for another shamelessplug, if you didn't listen to my
last entire episode of the show.
I wrote a book.
It's called Plants to theRescue and, again, if you're
watching on YouTube, you can seeme holding it up and pointing

(29:44):
at it and smiling and stuff likethat.
If you want to pick up plantsto the rescue, you can get it
anywhere books are sold.
I am still sorting out, as ofthe recording of this podcast,
how to get signed copies topeople.
If you're interested, staytuned.
I will hopefully have moreinformation about that by the
end of this month, which isFebruary in 2024.
If you're watching this in thefuture hello, future person.

(30:06):
I'm glad the planet is stillaround.
That's comforting to me.
Anyway, pick up the book,subscribe to Plantropology
wherever you're listening.
Oh and, by the way, if youdon't mind leaving me a rating
and review for the show, I weara size five star rating and I
would appreciate hearing yourthoughts Still here.

(30:27):
Why are you so?
Let's get back to the interviewin three, two, one, all right.
Well, we are back and, kay, Iwanted to talk about Garden Life
, because this is such a coolproject that you've gotten to
work on and it's coming out, Ibelieve, two weeks from today,
at the time of the release ofthis episode.
And so give me the pitch forGarden Life.

(30:51):
What's the game about?
Why should people be excitedabout it?
And I want to talk a little bitabout how you got into the
making of the game.

Speaker 2 (30:59):
Sure, okay.
So Garden Life at its heart isa gardening game to relax to.
So it's a cozy game where youcan create your own beautiful
garden in such a stunningenvironment.
A lot of it's about theambience and how plants grow and
being able to create and justsort of witness the beauty of
nature.
That is the quickest way that Ican describe the game.

(31:22):
At the moment, the inspirationfor the game is more of the
satisfaction from gardening, sowe haven't gone down the oh, you
need to get the soil acidityright.
It needs this kind offertilizer.
It's more to do with how can Imake this garden look beautiful?
What is exciting about thisgame is that no two plants are

(31:46):
the same, so the team havedeveloped an incredible system
that when you grow a plant, itwill come out different each
time.
You won't be able to grow thesame plant twice, unless you're
very, very lucky.
It's all done on a randomsystem, so no two Rows bushes
will look the same in the game,which is really, really awesome.
Yeah, it's something that wewere really keen to get right

(32:10):
from nature as well.

Speaker 1 (32:11):
No, that's so interesting too because you're
right that a lot of times withyou know I haven't played a lot
of this style of game.
There are a couple I've gotteninto recently.
My wife and my son play alittle bit more in that.
You know sort of realm than Ido probably.

(32:31):
But a lot of things in videogames tend to be kind of like
baked in, like this is what thisplant looks like, this is what
this creature looks like.
It's always like repetitive andthe same, and I think that is
such a cool idea because you'reabsolutely right, you could have
a hundred thousand Rows bushesin a field in nature and no two

(32:51):
of them would be exactly thesame.
There's so much variation inlife and that's such an
interesting accomplishment in agame because, again, you don't
see that kind of thing much.

Speaker 2 (33:02):
Yeah, I think when you look at a lot of games, you
know plants are secondary asset.
In Garden Life, plants are thestars of the game.
So this is where more attentionhas been put into them and it's
you know, you're saying, withthose hundred Rows bushes in a
field, for example, one of themwill always just have like a
couple of flowers on it.
You're like why?

(33:22):
There it's.
It's a real interesting way tobe able to to show off that
nature can be beautiful.
It doesn't have to be a perfectball of a rose bush each time,
and I think that's really coolto see and it is so relaxing
when you're watching theseplants grow as well.

Speaker 1 (33:37):
Well and we talked earlier about how you've sort of
grown up playing video games.
That is something that you know, you did with your father and
just you know something that wasvery formative for you as a
child and through your life.
So it must be kind of a thrilland kind of a big accomplishment
to get into the production ofsomething like this, which is
just incredible.
How did how did that happen?

(33:58):
How did you get to a pointwhere you got to produce this
game?

Speaker 2 (34:03):
So when the pandemic hit, I was working predominantly
in events as a florist and Iwas working freelance and what I
always used to do is alwaysused to take January and part of
February off work.
That was my holiday for theyear.
It'd be like there's not asmany events New Year's is done,

(34:24):
it will pick up aroundValentine's Day and it will be
fine.
Pandemic hit in March and I waslike I should not have taken
those two months off.
So it was.
It was a very me jumping onopportunities.
So I met up with the livestudios who are the company that

(34:44):
I work for, the developmentcompany in Austria, and I went
out there.
They met me and they thoughtthat I would make a really good
project manager for traineeproject manager at the time and
I was like, fantastic, you'regiving me a shot.
I actually moved out to Austriawith my husband and we worked

(35:06):
out there and it was absolutelywonderful.
And I saw this pitch for agardening game.
I got told about it and I waslike, oh, okay, and I jumped on
it and I went, I can run withthis, I can help with this, and
I kind of started taking therole of wanting to sort of
become a producer.
I wasn't quite sure at thispoint.

(35:27):
I was still like learning aboutthe game development process
and I really ran with it.
And when I got given theopportunity and I just jumped
because I knew that I wasinvested in the games
development already from thepitch phase I was working with
some fantastic people to be ableto get the design to a really

(35:48):
good point and I just reallybelieved in this and I knew that
with my transferable skillsfrom floristry like I was saying
about clients and customers andcommunication is a big part of
the transferable skills fromfloristry to game development.
So that's how I kind of landedup with the producer role at

(36:09):
Still Alive.

Speaker 1 (36:10):
That's really cool.
That's such a good story too.
I think something that I tellstudents a lot and something I
tell people that I just talk toa lot is that sometimes it's
sort of hard to see, except inretrospect, how all of your
different experiences line up totake you to where you are right
, that everything you do sort ofin some ways can inform the

(36:32):
next thing, or either in apositive way or in a oh I really
don't want to do that againsort of way.
But I love hearing you talkabout how your skills as a
florist and customer managementand dealing with people because
that is any service industry orany public facing industry just
the dealing with people is sucha skill that you have to have

(36:59):
how that led into something thatseems completely like you know,
I think on paper.
If you said you know gameproduction and floral design,
they seem like they're in twowhole different categories of
life in general.
But I love the story that oneof them helped inform the other
that you can use yourexperiences regardless of where

(37:20):
you've come from to where you'regoing.
I think that's a good story forpeople to hear, because I think
it's maybe one we don't hearenough.
We're always told pick a thingand stick to the thing and this
is your thing now, whereas no,life is complicated and life is
long and we find different pathsand I love that.

Speaker 2 (37:37):
I don't think anybody should ever be tied to one
career if they're not enjoyingit.
I'm very much an opportunist.
If I see something thatinterests me and excites me, I
will take that opportunity and Ireally implore the people to
look at it that way as well.
And if there are studentslistening and they're going oh,

(37:58):
I'm working the service job orI'm having to be a waitress for
X amount of time, like it'sstill giving you life skills and
it is still so valuable beingable to deal with that difficult
customer, because your nextcareer, regardless of what it is
, could be dealing with somebodyelse who is being difficult and
it's really important beingable to recognize how a skill

(38:19):
can be used somewhere else.

Speaker 1 (38:22):
Yeah, that's such a great thought, I think for sure.
So you've answered this alittle bit already and talked
about sort of the developmentprocess and you know, from pitch
to development and all of that,how long did it take?
It seems like at least a coupleof years, right, you said you
started in 2020.

Speaker 2 (38:43):
Yeah, so two years and, like you said, we release
in two weeks, on the 22nd ofFebruary, and yeah, it's been an
absolute ride and it's ups anddowns.
Obviously, game development isa roller coaster, but it's so
fantastic, especially whenyou've got a good team around
you as well.
That is the most importantthing is, if you've got a good

(39:06):
team, you can be able to developthe best kind of game that you
want.
I did have a few challengeswith teaching the plants, though
that was fun.

Speaker 1 (39:17):
Teaching the plants like how to grow and how to look
like plants, and things likethat.

Speaker 2 (39:22):
Yeah, if I said to you describe to me how a
sunflower grows in words, howwould you, oh gosh yeah.
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (39:33):
That's a hard.
I have never thought that issuch a hard question.

Speaker 2 (39:37):
Yeah, yeah, it's a really hard question to answer.
You know you've spent yourentire career around plants and
being able to it's what we foundourselves doing was looking at
a lot of time lapse videos andthere's a lot of them out there
on YouTube so you can look atthese time lapse videos of how
plants grow and it is absolutelybeautiful.

(39:58):
But, yeah, it's reallydifficult to describe.
So that was a challenge initself when it's like you know
about plants.
Yes, of course, can youdescribe how this grows?
Sure, give me a few minutes.

Speaker 1 (40:11):
Yeah, well, especially and that's just it.
Like I think if I thought aboutit for a while I probably could
but especially too, if you'reworking with, like, you've got a
diverse team of people, and soeven some of the terminology or
the ways that like you and I, asplant people, would
conceptualize and think aboutthe development of a flower and
how it grows, and all of that isprobably a foreign language to

(40:34):
so many people who are workingon the technical side of
production and design and all ofthat.
So I think, yeah, being able toreframe that into words is so
such an interesting challenge.

Speaker 2 (40:46):
Definitely.
I mean, it goes both ways.
If somebody was trying toexplain to me the technicalities
of the code that they'rewriting, for example, I can
understand the basics, but Icannot understand the entire
thing of what they're doing,which is, you know, you don't
necessarily need to understandeverything it's.
Can you communicate theimportant parts?

(41:06):
Can you ask the right questionsand I think that's a lot of
what game development is is canyou ask the right question to
get the correct answer?

Speaker 1 (41:14):
Yeah, that's.
That's a good way to look at ittoo.
Can you write, can you ask theright questions to get the right
answer?
I'm going to think about thatall day.
That's a good one, so it has tobe an awesome feeling having
this release here in the nextcouple of weeks.
Right After all of this workand all of this time put in, I
and I kind of remember I had abook come out last year.

(41:36):
I wrote a book that releasedlast summer, and I remember the
couple of weeks leading up to it.
I was excited and tired andnervous.
Like how are you feeling aboutthe launch of this game?

Speaker 2 (41:49):
Excited, tired and nervous Just to parrot you there
.
Yeah, it's, it's prettyexciting.
I'm really looking forward tothe launch of this game.
I've got some fantastic viewson it as well.
I love the game.
I think it is one of the mostrelaxing games to play out there

(42:12):
.
And yeah, tired, yeah,definitely, it's a long road.
It's two years of work andobviously you know we are kind
of at that point now and it'sit's nerve-wracking because you
don't know how it's going to bereceived.
And yeah, I've just got to keepaway from those comments at the

(42:32):
beginning.

Speaker 1 (42:34):
Oh, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh gosh.
Yes, I understand that so wellas someone who creates media on
the Internet all the time.
I wrote a children's book aboutplants and climate change and I
made the mistake of readinglike reviews from different
places and it was.

(42:54):
The thing is like it was verywell received.
Just seeing what I've seen, Iknow your game is going to do so
well.
I know people are going to loveit, but it's like you get a
thousand positive comments andthen the one critical one, at
least for me, lives in my brainforever, like it's my best
friend for the rest of my life.

Speaker 2 (43:13):
Yeah, yeah, I'm the same on this.
I still have weddings to thisday that will haunt me and
certain customers to this daythat will haunt me, and I'm like
that was 10 years ago.
Let it go.
Let it go now.
Yeah, no, so I'm going to do mybest to not do that.

Speaker 1 (43:34):
That's awesome.
Looking forward to the future,a little bit Like what do you
see as the future of the floralindustry or of this type of
gaming, this cozy gaming, andthen like where do you see
yourself headed?
Do you want to create more ofthis kind of thing?
Are there other things in yourmind that you want to go after?
What does the next five or 10years look like in this space?

Speaker 2 (43:57):
Okay, I'll take the floral industry one first,
because it's very difficult togo into too much detail about
that.
I don't know is going to be thequickest answer.
It's going to follow fashion,like it always has done.
So it's predicting the trends,seeing what's coming up next,
who's getting married andcelebrity culture, those kinds

(44:17):
of things.
Looking at that and looking atthe styling going down from
there.
But I think one exciting thingfor the floral industry are the
adapting to sort of moreecological ways of working, sort
of not using a floral foam thatdoesn't buy a degrade for
example, there's now buy adegradable foam that you can buy
.
But there's also people I'venoticed going back to the

(44:40):
traditional methods of floralhistory, using moss and straw
and wire and being able to reuseframes, which is really, really
cool, so that's really good.
And also adapting to theconsumer habits.
Right now, most florists willhave a plethora of plants, house
plants, all in differentvariations of green.
Being able to adapt to the newhabit of the next trend is going

(45:03):
to be really, reallyinteresting as well.
So whether that's, I thinkdried flowers tried to make a
comeback but didn't take off sowell.
Maybe it's coming back again, Idon't know.
It's going to be exciting.
I always keep my eye on it,though I can't help myself too
much.
So cozy gaming, though.
There are some really coolreleases coming out soon,

(45:25):
obviously Garden Life being oneof them but I'm really excited
to see the space and how itdevelops.
It's I'd say it's still quite agrowing and it's kind of
learning what cozy gaming means,and it means something
different to some people as well.
But I would like to see thereturn of a couch co-op game in

(45:46):
the cozy space.
I think that there is a placein the market for this.
I think this could be somethingreally cool being able to sort
of game together in person onsomething that's relaxing.
I think the cozy gaming marketcould really benefit from that.
That's my wish, I suppose moreso than anything.

Speaker 1 (46:08):
I think a lot of people would agree with you on
that.
I think that we have gotten sofar away from cooperative gaming
or maybe in-person cooperativegaming.
You can do all kinds of thingsonline, but if you want to play
with a friend in your home orwhatever else, I think there is
certainly, at least in my mind,a market for that.

(46:28):
I know my wife and my son playAnimal Crossing together
sometimes, but it's not like afull co-op there's always the
leader person and then thesecondary person.
A lot of games have sort of, Ithink, shifted that direction in
places where they'recooperative.
I love that thought.
I think gaming can be somethingthat we I think a lot of times

(46:51):
like, oh, we need a familyactivity.
It's like, oh, let's play aboard game, let's I don't know
do a craft together or somethinglike that.
I think video games canabsolutely be that.
I think that's maybe somethingwe're missing.
I love that thought.
I hope you're right.
I hope that is where some of itstarts to head.

Speaker 2 (47:10):
I think that it's interesting.
You're saying that your wifeand your son play Animal
Crossing.
I think that's really coolbeing able to play that together
as well, because I'm on Switchas well you can sit down
together and play.
That's really nice being ableto do more of that, whether it's
on Switch, whether it's onvarious consoles.
I think that that would be areal nice way for cosy gaming to

(47:33):
go.
Again, it's a I would like thisto happen.
I'm unsure of where the futureis going to take cosy gaming.
I know that there's a couple ofreleases that I've got my eye
on that could change a fewthings, which would be really
awesome.
Why do I see myself as well?
I suppose.

Speaker 1 (47:52):
Yeah, I was going to say what about you?
What does the future look likefor Kay?
I know you mentioned thatyou're sort of an opportunist
and you love to jump at newthings, but do you have thoughts
in your mind about where you'dlike to head personally and
professionally?

Speaker 2 (48:08):
So professionally, I definitely wanted to keep in the
games industry.
I think that I've just got myteeth into it and I've just
begun my game production journey.
Let's say I really want to findthe next opportunity that is
going to bring fun throughgaming.
I don't mind how that is.
It's not necessarily.
It doesn't have to be a cosygaming.

(48:29):
If I see something that's thatreally piques my interest, I
will attempt to sort of be likegetting hold of that pitch and
being able to be on theproduction team would be an
honour.
So I'm definitely looking atthe best opportunities.
Seeing where that leads meObviously still was still alive,
but what I want to do is justmake sure that I'm looking

(48:52):
forwards and personally, I willstill keep working.
Every now and then in Floresshops.
I can't help myself.
I pop in and that's it.
I think you get droped intosomething as well, which is
really cool.

Speaker 1 (49:07):
Oh yeah, those kinds of things get in your blood.
I ran a little garden designlandscape company for a couple
of years and there's still dayspeople will call me and be like,
hey, can you help me designthis or put this in?
I'm like yeah, yes, definitelyyes.
And then you, like you said,end up in a three week project
that you didn't mean to, butit's fun, it's something that

(49:28):
means something to you, so it'sokay.

Speaker 2 (49:31):
Yeah.
And then you kind of get thatmoment halfway through where
you're like oh okay, now I knowwhy, I'm not doing this anymore,
Like I love it, but at the sametime like, yeah, I'm done with
this.
The thing for me is, by the way, my nails.
I'm allowed to get my nailsdone now, whereas if you look at
any Flores nails, especiallyaround in the next few weeks

(49:53):
over Valentine's Day they'regoing to be wrapped, so I'm now
enjoying the ability to havepretty nails.

Speaker 1 (50:03):
Well, I think we take our wins where we can get them
for sure.
So just sort of wrapping up.
I have so much enjoyed talkingto you.
This has been a fascinatingdiscussion and I love hearing
your thoughts about justbusiness and career, but also
just creativity and everythingelse.
You really have some goodperspectives on these things.

(50:26):
I ask all of my guests,regardless of like who they are
or what they've done or whatthey've studied, like if you
could leave our listeners with apiece of advice, and that can
be about education, work, floraldesign, video games, whatever
it is, whatever you want.
It could be your favoritecookie recipe, I don't care.
What would you want ourlisteners to take home with them

(50:50):
, so to speak, from this episode?

Speaker 2 (50:54):
Oh, this is a good one.
So I'm going to say to juststop and look.
Just have a look at what isaround you right now, whether
that's your in game, whetheryou're in the field, whether
you're on a class, whetheryou're on a train, whatever it
is, just stop and have a look atwhat's happening around you and
observe.

(51:14):
That is something that I thinkwe often lose sight of.
So just sometimes, to stop,look, listen and just appreciate
that, because that's where youstart seeing things like
opportunities, that's where youstart appreciating what you have
and being able to sort of livein the moment a little bit that
way.
So just to stop thinking aboutfuture past and just observe.

(51:36):
I think that's the advice thatI would give.
Oh, and always use your localflorist.

Speaker 1 (51:41):
I think those are both great pieces of advice.
I love stop and look.
I love just that thought ofslowing down for a second in
your day to day life, becausethat is not the direction we're
pushed by our societies today,and I think it's really.
It's weird that it's sort of anovel, radical idea, but it is
in some ways, and I love it somuch.
And then, yeah, support localflorists, local businesses all

(52:06):
the time.
I think that's great.
Yeah.
So, kay, as we wrap up, wherecan people find you?
Let us, I mean, are theresocial media outlets?
Are there places we want todirect people?
Take the game one more time.
Tell us all the important dates.

Speaker 2 (52:24):
Yeah, of course, I am going to use this time to plug
the game and the game socialmedia systems.
So on Discord we are able to befound so you can join in the
conversation, ask us questions.
Myself I'm on there as well.
So if you've got any questionson anything, even if it's
floristry related, feel free tohead over to the Discord.

(52:45):
It's called still alive gamingcommunity.
Join us there and join in onthe conversations.
Obviously, we have the gamecoming out, so it is on Steam
and consoles that will be comingout on the 22nd of February.
It is called Garden Life, acozy simulator.
So Instagram handle is GardenLife game, twitter Garden Life

(53:08):
game again, and Facebook is justGarden Life.
So pre-order right now isavailable on console.
Feel free to wishlist andfollow us on Steam.
That would be fantastic, andthe game will, in the future, be
released on Switch as well.

Speaker 1 (53:26):
Very cool.
I'm excited about all of thatand I'm going to go home and
pre-order this tonight.
Actually, as we record this.
I'm very excited.
I love this kind of thing and Iwanted to tell you one quick
little story about this game ingeneral.
Months ago, months and monthsago I think, maybe when the
first trailer came out or whenone of the first announcements

(53:47):
about this game came out, afriend of mine sent me a clip or
a picture of it, saying likehey, you should look into this.
This, I think, will besomething you love or that you
would enjoy.
And I was like, oh, that's socool.
And then when I got an emailfrom your folks a few weeks ago
about this, I was like, yes,absolutely yes, like I have to
be involved in this in some way.

(54:08):
And so even before thisconversation about you being on
the show and everything started,like that was back in my, in
the back of my head somewhere,like, oh, there's like a plant
game coming out and I'm soexcited about it, so I just
wanted to leave, leave you withthat.
That like I'd seen it beforeand I've been excited about it
for a while.
So it's it's cool to get totalk to you and see.

(54:28):
Here's some of the backgroundbehind it.

Speaker 2 (54:31):
Thank you so much.
It's been really awesometalking to you as well.
I'm looking forward to hearinghow you receive the game as well
.
Your feedback on this is goingto be really interesting.
So, yeah, definitely excited,exciting times.

Speaker 1 (54:45):
Awesome.
Okay, thank you so much foryour time and for hanging out
and just for your passion forwhat you do.
I think it's really great and Ican't wait for people to see
this game.

Speaker 2 (54:55):
Thank you very much.

Speaker 1 (54:56):
Y'all, wasn't Kay?
Wonderful, I thought she waswonderful.
And Kay, if you're listening tothis or watching this, thanks
so much for being part of theshow.
I so much enjoyed hearing yourinput and your experience and
your thoughts, and you know I'vebeen doing the show for a while
and after four years, I thinkstop and look is one of my
favorite pieces of advice.
So, whether you are on the busor in your office or wherever

(55:17):
you are, just stop and observethe world around you.
There's so much good still outthere.
There's so much cool stuffstill out there in the midst of
everything going on in the world.
So stop and look.
Thanks once again to the TexasTech Department of Plant and
Soil Science for the supportingthe show and the Davis College
of Texas Tech for supporting theshow.
Thanks to the PodFix Networkfor letting me be a part of it.

(55:37):
Thanks mostly to you, thelistener.
You are the reason I do thisand keep coming back to do it
more.
Once again, garden Life is onsale and available on Xbox and
PlayStation I believe PCstarting on February 22nd and
will be available on NintendoSwitch in March, I believe March
15th, so you can pre-order itnow.

(55:58):
You can pick it up if it ispast that date, and I absolutely
think you should, and I cannotwait to play this game.
Y'all you know I love you.
Keep being kind to one another.
If you have not been kind toone another to date, maybe give
that a shot.
It's a good way to be.
Keep being really cool.
Plant people and I will talk toyou very soon.
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