There was a time when my husband and I could be found on a Saturday morning scouring the shops for a new top to wear on our Saturday night out. These days, our weekend shopping trips seem to be based more and more around the garden centre, and I dread to think how much we’ve spent over the years on flowers, plants, shrubs and trees.
I’m not entirely sure at what point my lad about town boyfriend turned into David Bellamy, but it’s fair to say his passion for designer shirts has been replaced with a love for Ferns. So many conversations go along these lines nowadays…
Me: “Is there anything you need on the food shop tomorrow?”
Him: “No. I’m really worried about the palm in our bedroom. I think it needs to be moved to the living room.”
Pre- kitchen renovation, he famously asked everyone we are related to for an indoor house plant to transform our bit-rough-around-the-edges kitchen/conservatory/bodge job into a tropical oasis. It was something to behold – with a Devil’s Ivy climbing across the ceiling support bar (don’t ask) and huge green leaves in every available space.
Most of those plants had to be relocated around the house, and we still seem to be accruing foliage in every corner of every room. They get moved around like dogs needing a walk; into the garden for a bit of sun. Into a darker spot, a lighter spot, a cooler spot, a more humid spot. We even had a ‘healthy debate’ about moving a huge monster pot plant into the kitchen on Christmas Day.
He’s not alone though – both Biologists at heart we share a passion for nature, the environment, wildlife and generally all things green.
We have rescued dying specimens from the bargain corner and nurtured them to full health, and never given up on some dead wood. Literally.
I do also believe that every bit of interior design is perfectly finished off with the right plant. Adding something natural to the modern, the rustic, or the edgy always seems to bring a sense of calm, class and colour that a living space requires.
Therefore, I’m sharing a few of our favourites; members of our extended family if you will, for you to adopt into your own home. No one needs to turn to a plastic plant (PLEASE); everyone can be a Bellamy.
The coolest kid on the block. Every blogger needs a strategically placed succulent these days; perfect instagram fodder and ‘blogging workspace’ accessory of the year. Available in everyleading supermarket , you can pick one or two up with your grocery shop and be feeling like a pro blogger by bedtime.
Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus australis)
A luscious trailing version of the Ivy we know and love (note, I have not included the traditional Ivy as indoors even we have struggled to keep it alive indoors…but that’s an ongoing battle), this relative loves a bit of a humid atmosphere and indirect light and ours is thriving on a shelf in our bathroom. (And for the record, in our porch too).
Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura)
This is such an incredible plant. Named because of it’s ability for its leaves to fold upright ‘in prayer’ in the evening, then return to drooping in the morning (causing a bit of a rustle) is quite spectacular. Our amazing specimen took a real beating during our home renovation, and was destroyed by dust. Cut back and left out for dead in the garden it made a miraculous recovery – on a wing and a prayer.
Umbrella plant (Schefflera arboricola)
We have a couple of these around our home. They seem to thrive with very little attention and grow to an impressive height to fill a bare corner. Perfect if you’re looking for the indoor jungle look. One of these guys was rescued from my office, pre building demolition so it’s a little memoir from my ‘good old days’ at work tending to the plants on the windowsill.
All of our many Aloe vera plants originated from one cutting my Nan gave me about twelve years ago. The things grow like triffids, bursting out of every container in new sprouts – one we nick named ‘the Alien’ as it crept out of it’s pot and across a table ledge in a freaky arm like way. We’ve donated cuttings to friends, family, colleagues and it just goes on, and on… It’s a cool looking plant which needs minimal input to explode into life.
Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
I can definitely get sentimental about our green friends we share our home with; plants we were given at sad times, by special people or just because they’ve been part of our journey. My rubber plant was given to me by my Mum when I moved into my first flat, 15 years ago and been a huge (literally, HUGE) part of every home ever since. Sadly the mother ship (in all her 5 foot glory) went down last year, but not before we managed to salvage a couple of sprouting branches as cuttings. Therefore, our second generation rubber plant babies will live on. Such an impressive plant and we always spot enormous ones on holiday and wonder if ours could grow that large…
Fern (Nephrolepis exalta)
As I already mentioned, we have a big thing for Ferns out in the back garden. I think the dream is to make our garden look a bit like Jurassic park. Inevitably, the Fern obsession has crept indoors and we have an indoor variety living quite happily in our bathroom. We love Ferns so much, we very nearly named our second daughter Fern.
Air plant (Tillandsia spp.)
The amazing thing about air plants is that they do not need any soil. The root system is in place to simply attach the plant as an anchor to a rock, tree, shrub or to the ground. They are an incredible alternative to the succulent and look amazing suspended in glass terrariums, or attached to a rock, shell or fossil. Just spray them a couple of times a week and ensure good air circulation. Perfect starter plant for the person who kills everything.
Another variety of houseplant which adds impact and height, Dracaenas are the floppy leaved, sometimes spiky looking, tall classic houseplants you are used to seeing in the plant section at B&Q. Easy to keep and happy to be in the corner of the room looking green while you get on with your day. We have a few of these and they are all doing pretty well; mortality rate to date is zero.
Once upon a time I wouldn’t have dreamt of including the Orchid – commonly given as a gift or alternative for a bouquet on birthdays, anniversaries and the like. But does it really last that much longer? In the past, my experience would make me believe the answer to be no. But, it seems we finally have nailed how to NOT kill an orchid. It looks like, it’s all about finding the perfect position; on a sunny window sill south or west facing, but not in direct sunlight in the strongest sun of the day. Water and feed, but not too often (once a week in summer, every 10 days in winter) and don’t let it become waterlogged. If you’ve nailed this one, it’s the holy grail of keeping indoor plants alive.
So the challenge is on; it’s Spring and there is no better time to go to the garden centre and give a plant a home. Teach the kids to care for it and nurture it; it’s one of the lessons in life that will serve them well into the future. Plus, it’ll look lovely too.