Alie Wettstein is a Marble resident and owner of Nightshades Plant Shop. You can find her this summer at the Basalt and Carbondale markets. For dates and contact information, visit www.nightshadesplantshop.com/
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Let’s talk a little bit about where you’re from.
I’m three generations of families in Aspen, but we’ve all moved downvalley. I left at 17 for pretty much 15 years, and then moved back. Upon arrival I thought, “What am I going to do here? Am I going to go into the construction world, or am I going to do something that makes me happy?” I figured the best way to do that was plants!
Wait. Construction? Let’s backpedal for just a moment.
The last time I was living in Carbondale I was farming. It fell through by the end of the season, so I moved to California and started working for farmers markets and an organic farm in Santa Cruz. Then I followed my heart up to Portland and worked for another organic farm for seven years.
After the second year, I had to find a different source of income because the markets closed during the winter. I got into construction through a women’s nonprofit and landed a job with a small family remodel company. It was just me and my best friend working under a master carpenter who taught us everything in a year.
How did you make your way home?
Once the pandemic hit, I realized that I couldn’t be in Portland during that time. I was driving over Kebler and thought, “This is where I want to be.” I found my home in Marble, but was like, “Oh my god. Put on your big kid pants, you just bought a house!”
I think most people don’t buy a house and then figure out how to pay for it, but luckily I had landscaped here way back when, and got back involved with my buddies. It was brutal on my body, but I love plants, and thought that I should start a plant company.
Let’s talk about Nightshades Plant Shop.
It is such a simple kind of business, but I have the space on my property to have nearly 2,000 plants. I found this wonderful family wholesaler in Denver with exquisite products that I get to support through this. I can then provide this to our community to beautify and purify office spaces and add creativity and life to places. It’s really nice.
How do you pick your varieties?
Honestly, whatever catches my eye. I try to have a broad variety and then can tell what people like by what they buy the most of, and I try to get them excited about other things, too. I also go off of whatever my wholesaler has at the time.
What’s your favorite plant?
I’m really into cactus right now. At first I was like, “Oh, cactus. Whatever. Everyone is into cactus,” and then I met this one cactus.
It’s the cutest thing on the planet, because they have these little buds that turn into huge flowers. It bloomed into a five-inch tall, beautiful white flower. It bloomed for one day and then it died. I was like, “You are so amazingly dramatic and I love you!”
I think that’s the cool thing about plants. They completely transform on you, and do these huge feats that only last for a few minutes before going away. They’re just these sweet, gentle reminders of the impermanence and the delicateness of life.
What is it like growing in Marble’s climate?
I think a big reason that I got through the winter by myself in Marble was because of these plants. I have 75 personal houseplants and they’re big and they need to be watered. That ritual of taking all my plants down, and then cleaning, managing, and beautifying them to make sure they’re healthy really supported my mental health. It gave me something to care for which naturally translates into caring for myself. There’s something about visually seeing a beautiful space that creates a calm internally.
I completely agree with you.
If you think about where these plants grow, it’s humid and warm, and if you can create that in your home, it’s a wonderful place to be. When the outside world is dark and cold, it helps make your homespace where you want to be.
Have you always had a green thumb?
My grandmother had a lot of geraniums in her house, which was a really fond memory of mine. Her home was so cozy. When I planted my first seed and it grew into something I was hooked. It was like magic! After that, I started growing, and I was obsessed with learning about it all.
You really love this.
I do. It makes me so happy. Going to the market in the morning is so fun. Even though it’s exhausting, it brings me so much joy and I love how well-received it is, and I love meeting people through it.