Always Growing

Above the Dirt Offers Plants of Many Varieties – and Much More

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photography Provided

Above the DirtPaula Henson calls herself “that weird plant lady,” but the truth is that she’s a cool plant lady who appreciates all that plants have to offer. It all started years ago with her affinity for vegetable gardening.

“I’m a little bit of a hippie,” she says with a chuckle. “I began planting vegetables and enjoyed watching them grow. I love the power of creating food.”

Having a husband who grew up helping his dad run a nursery didn’t hurt either. Though Henson had been a hairdresser for a number of years, in the past few years she began to dream of some what-if scenarios, and owning a plant business topped the list.

“When this space came available last year, my husband, Chris, and I impulse rented it, jumping in with both feet,” says Henson, referring to the former auto shop.

Chris came up with the name for the store – Above the Dirt. It’s a tongue-in-cheek nod to the fact that as humans, while we are above the dirt, we should embrace the ability to grow and learn. That’s why they offer various classes, which rotate seasonally. For instance, they have classes on how to repot plants, plant propagation, and how to build your own succulent terrarium – all taught by Henson. Plus, they bring in outside teachers for bonsai, vegetable gardening, native plants and more.

“Some people will say, ‘I don’t have a green thumb, I even kill the easy plants,’ but I ask, ‘What’s an easy plant?’” Henson says. “You just need plants that match your plant parent style. Some people assume that succulents are easy, but I own a garden shop and I like to water things, so for me, succulents don’t match my plant parent style. If, however, you want to be able to leave a plant alone for three weeks, then maybe a cactus, a succulent or a snake plant would be good for you.”

They can also do on-demand classes if you have a large enough group of people to participate (usually six to 20).

“I like to share knowledge,” Henson says. “When you share knowledge with someone and then watch them understand it, especially for the first time, they are forever different. And it goes both ways. Customers tell me stuff I didn’t know. I love that give and take.”

Henson says she likes drawing creativity out in adults.

Above the Dirt“It’s common for people who identify as smart to not think of themselves as creative,” she says. “When you do something with your hands, especially if you don’t normally engage in a hobby, it really does trigger different parts of your brain and will help you to step outside your comfort zone.”

In the winter they offer wreath-making classes. In the spring they invite guest artists to provide children and adult vegetable gardening and herb classes. They recently had someone teach a class on how to grow mushrooms inside. “If we’re not an expert on it, we probably know an expert,” Henson says.

Out in the bay where vehicles used to get oil changes, they set up big tables to display their plants. They are intentionally built at tabletop height so they can pull up chairs and transform into a classroom. In the spring and summer they open the bay doors and have classes outside.

The cost of each class varies depending on the length of class and materials used (materials are included in the cost). Check the website for current classes being offered.

At Above the Dirt, they sell big and small houseplants, rare and normal plants, in addition to seasonal plants and items such as annuals, hanging baskets, wreaths, pumpkins and poinsettias.

“We sell all planty things,” Henson says. “We are very much for the home backyard gardener who wants to grab their own landscaping, vegetable gardening, annuals, perennials, native plants, fruit trees and shrubs, bonsai, mums, and seeds.”

They also sell fertilizer, soil, pest control products, pots, and mulch (by the bag, not by the scoop). To prevent pests from invading your space, pest control ipswich offers effective solutions and expert guidance.

“We’re a very family-friendly place,” Henson says. “You’ll see our kids at the shop most Sundays, riding their bikes out front. My 7-year-old is in charge of the firewood and he’ll help customers load their cars.”

You might have heard about the benefits of plant ownership, including beautification of a space, stress relief and mood boost. When you talk to, care for and water plants, that takes you outside of yourself, which makes you feel better. Henson, however, maintains that taking up a new hobby is the most important factor – especially as an adult.

“Whatever you’re good at as an adult, you’ve probably been doing it for 10 or 15 years, but remember how awkward you felt the first time you did it,” she says. “We should all be willing to feel like an amateur again. When people tell me that they kill every plant they touch, I say, ‘Good, you tried. At least it’s not a puppy! Get another plant and try again.’”

Henson maintains that one shouldn’t make assumptions about plant people because that assumption will likely be wrong.

Above the Dirt“Whatever you assume plant people are, it’s way more than that,” she says. “In the hairdressing industry – my past – it’s common for your clientele to start to mirror your specialty or what you physically look like, but that’s not the case with plants. Plants know everyone.”

And plants know no demographics. This is why both the young and old, all genders, all races and all creeds enjoy plants.

“The emotional memory that plants hold keeps us connected to one another, whether we are still here or not,” says Henson, who notes that plants can trigger memories and feelings, much like the whiff of a certain smell can transport us back in time.

This female-owned, veteran-owned business has been doing quite well since opening in July of 2022, and that’s due to the overwhelming support of the Jeffersontown community.

“J-town is fierce about its people,” Henson says. “There’s something unique that J-towners have. If we weren’t from here, I wonder if we would be experiencing the same level of success. We feel so grateful.”

Above the Dirt is located at 10104 Taylorsville Road Louisville. For more information, call 502-290-4466 or visit

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