“This is the part where people say, ‘And they lived happily ever after,’” says Fem Güçlütürk, speaking from the home she shares with her husband, Sezer Savaşli, in southwest Turkey. Since trading city life for a plot of land remote enough to lack reliable phone service, Güçlütürk has found that her days now follow the circadian rhythms of her plants. The PR executive–turned-botanist rises at six a.m. (“Even the dog doesn’t wake up then,” she says) and studies permaculture and edible gardening. After breakfast, she heads into the garden and remains there, weeding and pruning, until sundown. “I live in a vegetative state,” she jokes. Born in Ankara and raised in Istanbul, Güçlütürk has always cultivated an unconventional path. She worked ﬁrst in bars—a rarity for women in the 1980s—before cofounding a public relations ﬁrm. Despite achieving success, she found herself increasingly disillusioned with the relentless consumerism that accompanied urban life. “Growing up in cities, we’ve lost our connection with nature and found ourselves in a huge global story of consumption,” she says. When she stopped wanting to attend her own events, she knew it was time to quit. In 2014, Güçlütürk announced her next iteration as a botanist. Always interested in plants, she had started to attend gardening school and run a home shop in Istanbul; three years later, she’d relocated to Muğla, a province that boasts a rich and diverse habitat. Celtis australis, a tree native to the region, shares its Turkish name, Çıtlık, with the nearest village. “The tree has its place in mythology,” says Güçlütürk. “They say that if you eat the tree’s berries once, you can’t leave the place, which is true! I really don’t want to go anywhere else.” Before she relocated to Muğla, Güçlütürk was a voracious explorer, touring the world on her motorbike. But since she “designed her own heaven,” she’s loath to leave it. Instead, from the glass-fronted house that she and her partner created, she observes the eclectic gathering of shrubs, trees and perennials that pay tribute to her travels. “When I look at my garden, I see all the places I’ve visited softly merge,” she says. Only on Labofem—a YouTube channel that she launched to share her deepening knowledge of botany with other Turkish green-thumbed enthusiasts—does the outside world intersect with Güçlütürk’s new existence. Here, interested viewers seeking advice on their own plants can peruse videos where she counsels on everything from selecting the right planters to identifying common wintertime ailments, and watch short, snappily edited ﬁlms that chronicle Güçlütürk’s activities at home. “YouTube is where I go to share my experiences,” she explains. “The [viewers] don’t judge me for my hair or makeup—which I don’t have anyway—they just listen to what I say. I play the role of an entertainer and, while entertaining, I can help them look at their plants.” There are reciprocal beneﬁts to this online community. Often, a question is posed that Güçlütürk must research to answer. “Both sides are winning: They listen and I listen,” she says. This story is from The Kinfolk Garden Buy Now “I live in a vegetative state.” TwitterFacebookPinterest This story is from The Kinfolk Garden Buy Now “I live in a vegetative state.” Güçlütürk rotates her selection of indoor plants according to the season (“If I don’t limit myself, I would have much more,” she says). She finds each one a suitable spot—like a high ledge for the fishbone cactus (Epiphyllum anguliger), pictured above right, since it is best displayed as a hanging plant. In the winter, the temperature of the greenhouse drops and more of her “precious and small” plants make their way indoors. When Güçlütürk began to study botany, she says she had to donate 1,000 novels to a secondhand bookstore in order to make more room for her plants. “Now, I have only books about plants,” she says of the stacks of reference books on “local flora, deep botany and ecological mindfulness” that fill her shelves. Güçlütürk takes a walk every day in the woods near her home and fills her notebook with illustrations of plants and flowers she sees along the way, looking them up in her books when she returns home. She also uses her notebook to keep track of the flowering patterns in her garden so that she can redesign and give the garden an “experimental new look” as certain plants fall dormant. Related Stories Garden Cécile Daladier In work and in life, ceramicist Cécile Daladier finds inspiration in the bounty surrounding her French farmhouse. Garden Maurice Harris Meet the floral artist fashioning arrangements inspired by his grandmother. Garden The Kinfolk Garden An easy approach to bringing more nature into your life. Arts & Culture Garden Issue 37 Ron Finley An exclusive excerpt from our book, The Kinfolk Garden. Arts & Culture Garden Issue 45 Piet Oudolf The Dutch designer bringing life—and death—to traditional gardens. Garden Cécile Daladier In work and in life, ceramicist Cécile Daladier finds inspiration in the bounty surrounding her French farmhouse.