Fifty Shades of Green
One of the most clever gifts my parents gave me as a child was the use of a tiny little plot of land in the back of our garden. I could do whatever I wanted with it. My radish harvest was memorable (at least in my mind). The hands-on experience of sowing, weeding, watering and growing my own plants was truly eye-opening. Once I was bitten by the gardening bug, I moved my botanical skills indoors as well. I learned how to take cuttings from existing plants and turn one African Violet into many more, I even grew an avocado plant from a pit and attempted to make perfume from fallen rose petals (that last experiment failed miserably). At one point my childhood bedroom resembled a miniature version of the hanging gardens of Babylon. I still feel that an abundance of plants and greenery can make any space come alive. In fact, one of my all-time favorite spaces in that respect is the winter conservatory in Axel Vervoordt's castle. I once had the opportunity to visit the home of this famous Belgian antiques dealer, and it is every bit as gorgeous as the picture on the left suggests. The image on the right is the equally beautiful conservatory in fashion designer Jasper Conran's country house.
While we can't all be so lucky to have actual conservatories in our homes, it is relatively easy to recreate the look on a smaller scale in just about every room. The big trick is to place greenery at various height levels throughout the room and to have a variety of plant species and sizes in order to achieve a natural, unstudied look.
Speaking of scale, nothing beats having an actual potted tree indoors. The fiddle leaf fig tree is a decorator's classic, though depending on climate and temperature, an olive tree works really well too.
Don't forget about plants in unexpected spaces of your home, such as the bathroom. Its humidity levels are quite appropriate for a veritable jungle of lush tropical foliage.
A small indoor kitchen garden will not only provide you with fresh herbs year-round, it will also give your whole house an amazing aroma of rosemary, thyme, basil and sage, reminiscent of the south of France.
Vertical gardens are the latest trend in indoor gardening. They take up very little space, yet make for quite a wall statement.
Terrariums are the answer for those who want their greenery a bit more curated and “contained”.
Here are a few personal favorites in the plant world:
- Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum) is another decorator's classic suitable to a wide variety of styles, from casual to formal, its delicate and brightly colored foliage filters daylight gorgeously
- The Staghorn Fern (Platycerium) is a seventies classic that has made a comeback and it is easy to see why; mount a few specimens on the wall et voilà: instant art!
- The Chain of Hearts (Ceropegia) just takes me right back, it was one of the first plants I was ever given. Its heart-shaped leaves and bluish color are so pretty, plus I have a soft spot for hanging plants as they provide instant impact and texture to any room
- Ditto for the unusual String of Pearls (Senecio) which I only discovered last year at my local nursery, and have used to great effect for its unusual look.
My personal no-nos include:
- Sansevieria, commonly named “mother-in-law's tongue”: a mean term for an ugly plant
- Ornamental cabbages: I never got the appeal
- Poinsettias: not just a horrible Christmas cliché, they are poisonous too...
- Last but not least, plastic plants: do I need to say more?
And finally, for those of you lacking a green thumb, try bringing in greenery with a collection of easy-care cacti and succulents, a gallery wall of framed pressed leaves, vintage botanical prints or... some gorgeous nature-inspired fabric patterns by Calico
Shop Calico's floral and foliage patterned fabrics.