Wellbeing With Plants | Dominic Hooghuis from The Plant Runner

Wellbeing With Plants | Dominic Hooghuis from The Plant Runner

By Alana Langan

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

My name is Dominic Hooghuis and I’m one half of the Melbourne- based brand The Plant Runner. I started my plant obsession as a child, I grew up on a few acres of land in central New South Wales and I have amazing memories of my parents constantly out in the garden working with all types of weird and wonderful plants and trees! Their passion was infectious, and I started experimenting with plants, growing and propagating whatever I could find in whatever vessel I could find to grow them in! I’d go on adventures into the forest with my dirt bike and find stunning stag horns and birds nest ferns growing in huge trees, or go harvest nuts from Bunya Bunya Pines that had fallen to the ground! 

Duncan (Hilder) and I launched as Australia’s first plant truck after converting a vintage 1968 International ‘Horse Float’ into a mobile greenhouse in 2017. We pop up at events, markets and businesses selling indoor plants and plant accessories. Operating from the vintage truck always fascinates people, it’s a very positive space and we love to chat with our customers about indoor plants and people’s journeys. As the business has grown, we’ve up-cycled another two vintage vehicles into mobile greenhouses, a 1960’s Wayfarer caravan and a vintage tricycle – it combines our passion for the environment, recycling and the joy of all things green! We’ve also launched our range of Indoor Plant Products - a specialised fertiliser, a leaf shine and most recently an indoor plant potting mix.

We’re both a bit indoor plant obsessed and I think that helps a lot when developing our products for the indoor plant lovers of the world. We want to make products that not only work, but also look great on the shelf at home.

 

What do you love most about indoor plants?

There is something calming and grounding about plants and trees. In this digital world it feels like nothing is sacred anymore and nature is the only thing that can reconnect us with earth and reality again. Plants have a soothing effect on our souls and I love how plants can have such an impactful role in people's lives - they reduce stress, clean the air and provide a connection to nature within the home. They allow us to be creative in how we style spaces, giving us another medium to work with and express ourselves. I think there is also so much still to learn about plants and that excites me.

 

How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?

I think the sense of calm that plants bring to an indoor space really help slow my busy mind, I can find it really hard to switch off at times and the presence of plants helps to declutter my thoughts. I love stopping and checking in on each plant individually and observing it’s progression and growth and seeing how I can contribute to help the plants health and well being the way it does to mine.

 

In what other ways do plants nurture you?

I have a young family and we spend a lot of time in our small garden at home, nurturing and maintaining our green space. My two young boys have shown a real interest in the garden (both indoors and out!) and recently they’ve had an increasing interest in growing our own food. I love showing my boys where and how fruit and vegetables grow and we’re experimenting with growing food in vertical gardens and indoors with grow lights.The garden connects us and I treasure that time with my family.

 

What's your favourite plant?

I wouldn’t say I’ve got a favourite plant so to speak as I love so many for different reasons but I would say I’m currently loving Ficus Dammaropsis or Dinner Plate Ficus, it’s a cousin of the Fiddle Leaf Fig but has much larger deep green leaves and you don’t see it much, especially in the home, which makes it slightly more desirable!

What do you find most difficult about plant care?

I’ve found that once you know your space and have lived in it a while it’s far easier to understand your plants needs and how to keep them happy and healthy! Re-potting plants can be super messy and this was a big influence on the design of our indoor plant potting kit especially the addition of our compostable potting tarp, I actually use it quite a lot at home and during installs and maintenance.

Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?

It’s taught me that we can connect emotionally with plants in the same way we do with a pet. We have a huge Fiddle Leaf Fig in our house that has grown up to the ceiling and bent back down - growing over towards a large window. We’ve become so attached to it, it's like a member of the family now!

 

What is another wellbeing practice you swear by?

I feel it’s important to get back to nature whenever possible. I like to ride my vintage dirt bike (I up-cycled that one too!) up into the forest and spend a day on my own up there, I’ll ride until I a find a spot surrounded by trees and ferns and just chill out in the silence for a bit.



Photography: Four Point Zero

 

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Wellbeing With Plants | Thomas Denning

Wellbeing With Plants | Thomas Denning

By Alana Langan

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

My name is Thomas Denning, I am a horticulturalist working out of a nursery in inner city Melbourne. My work is quite varied dealing with indoor plants, maintenance and garden construction.



What do you love most about indoor plants?

I really love the routine that plants help create in your life after you take one home. They force you to take a bit of step back and put time into caring for them and considering what is going to help them thrive.



How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?

Everyone can benefit in some way from owning indoor plants. Even having the visual of greenery from plants indoors helps improve wellbeing. There is something incredibly calming and grounding being surrounded by a mini indoor jungle. I always feel instantly relaxed when I walk through the door to my apartment.



In what other ways do plants nurture you?

I’m lucky that I get to be surrounded by plants at work and home. Just getting the opportunity to work with plants day in day out is nurturing in itself and seeing them flourish is always incredibly rewarding.



What's your favourite plant?

That is a very hard question to answer, I tend to be drawn more to plants with weird growth habits and forms more than anything else. Using different shapes and foliage indoors or in a landscape setting always helps create a more interesting visual. The variety in Acacia species is amazing and you can’t go past a Rhipsalis to help brighten up an indoor setting.



What do you find most difficult about plant care?

There are many things that can be a bit challenging about caring for plants. Factors like light, soil, nutrients, environment and pest control all need to be considered when choosing the right plant indoors or out. So making sure I spend the time doing a bit of research to investigate helps avoid any casualties. My apartment is also west facing and gets quite hot during the warmer months, so the watering schedule can be quite intimidating/time consuming during that time.



Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?

More than anything else plants have taught me to never stop learning and improving my own knowledge. There is still so much the natural environment and its inhabitants can teach us, it’s well worth investing our time to hear what they have to say.



What's another wellbeing practice you swear by?

I think it’s really important to recognise when you need to slow down a bit and take a moment for yourself. We all get caught up in our everyday lives and it can become hard to invest that time doing whatever brings us a sense of happiness. So making sure I focus on that a bit more has become part of my routine.



Photos by Thomas

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Wellbeing With Plants | Ryan Hanrahan

Wellbeing With Plants | Ryan Hanrahan

By Jacqui Vidal

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

My name is Ryan Hanrahan and I own and creative direct Addition Studio. We launched in 2010 and have been creating furniture, lighting and objects since then. Many of our designs are based on the act of ritual.



What do you love most about indoor plants?
 
I love it when they are big. I am constantly obsessed with finding, and growing the largest plants possible that I can take in doors.



How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?
 
I mean visually they look amazing. I think a minimal amount of objects in a space and then combined with a few key plants is all you need. Keeping a minimal, simple and green visual landscape enhances wellness, however the benefit I find in a deeper sense is the daily contact of caring for and looking at a plant in detail.



In what other ways do plants nurture you?

We had a veggie garden at our house last year, which I loved. Living up in Byron Bay now, its so easy to grow food. We had every ingredient you could want for salads, and it had a really close proximity to our kitchen, so every night I would pick a heap of greens to go with our meal. It was so easy and so healthy, and would re grow by the next night. Since we moved to our new place I haven’t had this and I have really missed it, though we just bought our first house, and that's the first thing on my list of things to do.



What's your favourite plant?


My favourite plant at the moment is the Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla). They’re native to Australia and fairly common outside. I don’t love them that much outside, however when inside and placed in a well lit place with a high light for them to climb towards, they are super cool.

 

What do you find most difficult about plant care?

I hate the trays that are meant to go under plants. They’re always missing, and when you do buy them, they are expensive, or don’t match your pot, and if you don’t have them, then water goes on your floor. Yep I find them so annoying, however I have come up with a bit of a solution slash life hack. I buy the cheap plastic trays and sit them inside the pot at the base, before potting the plant, so they are not visible. I then add the dirt and the plant and then voila the plant has an invisible tray. I know this doesn’t give the soil the perfect drainage or aeration, nor does it perfectly catch all the overflow if you over water, but it does do all the afore mentioned to a pretty good degree. My plants are happy with it, and my OCD brain likes not having to deal with trays and water spillage. win/win



Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?

When you water a plant, and care for it, you tend to really become appreciative of it when it grows. You notice things in detail, like when a new shoot flourishes or when it flowers, and this makes you happy. I believe that just the daily act of seeing this gives a broader appreciation for nature and the world we live in.



What's another wellbeing practice you swear by?

Transcendental Meditation. I have been meditating for almost 10 years now, and it is the single main practice I do twice a day to keep my coffee and work habits in check. Besides that having a dog to love and look after. Animals are so good for your wellbeing ;-)


Photos by Katrina Parker 

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Wellbeing With Plants Interview | Artist and Designer Letitia Green

Wellbeing With Plants Interview | Artist and Designer Letitia Green

By Jacqui Vidal

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

I am a Melbourne-based artist and designer and I specialise in fashion, textiles, interiors, product and image making. I love to collaborate with fellow designers and brands on their product and create art for interior spaces.


What do you love most about indoor plants?
 
I love the sense of liveliness they bring. The fact we need to look after them and make them happy makes me happy!

 

How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?


I believe when you are responsible for someones’ wellbeing it instantly enhances your own wellbeing. Watering and giving the right amount of love and light to a plant naturally enhances my wellbeing. I enjoy a space that allows the outdoors in, and the fact something is living and breathing in my space brings me comfort. I know they love music and noise and grow according to sound as well as light and water, it intrigues me.


 
In what other ways do plants nurture you?

Greenery, forestry, bushland and beach scrub all give me a feeling and sense of wellbeing. A Space that speaks of life and joy, and greenery, that thrives on sunlight and water much like us humans certainly does nurture me. I think of how plants and forests survive without us, and really how lucky we are to be able to have them in our surroundings.

 

What's your favourite plant?

I recently bought an elephant ear plant, specifically because of the name, as a former 19- 25 year old  I could watch elephants thriving in their natural habitat from my home in Mpumulanga at the Kruger National Park in South Africa. So Elephants are particularly special to me. This plant exudes confidence, grace and beauty. I also love Herbs, which I grow outdoors - yet all are very loved and special, no favourites here except perhaps rosemary, coriander, sage and parsley.


 
What do you find most difficult about plant care?
 
The hardest part is realising that in our home they get too much sunlight, whereas most indoor plants love a little shade. I move them around a lot. I care for them like they are family! I am not a routine person or worrier, more carefree and go with the flow, so my plants generally thrive because I do notice them when they are struggling and genuinely care for them.



Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?
 
Yes! I realise that my plants are to be nurtured by me, and I am very sentimental and love caring for things that making my plants happy can become consuming! (just like my goldfish). I think we are lucky to have indoor plants, and especially lucky to have beautifully designed homes for them like Ivy Muse create. I love the sense of life they can bring to a space, and I love the quote: “How lovely the silence of growing things”. 


 
What's another wellbeing practice you swear by?
 
Oh not many I do tend to burn the candle at both ends! BUT, I am learning to do wellbeing better at the moment with daily walks on the beach with my two whippets and listening to some world music is a great wellbeing tool. Designing, art and creating imagery (my work) is a very big tool for my wellbeing, plus being out in nature, sunshine, garden and children, are all great tools to feel grounded and connected. Connection is the biggest element to wellbeing in my opinion.


Portraits by Richard Shaw

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Wellbeing With Plants | Elizabeth Barnett

Wellbeing With Plants | Elizabeth Barnett

By Alana Langan

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

I am a painter and printmaker living in the Macedon Ranges about an hour out of Melbourne. I mainly work in oils on linen as well as watercolour. My subject matter often features still life and interiors with a big focus on plant matter, flowers, foraged foliage and indoor plants.


What do you love most about indoor plants?

I love greening up an interior with indoor plants. They add a living element to a space and create visual interest to a room without being static, they are always changing form, flowering, creating new leaves and sometimes dying a little.



How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?


I love tending to my indoor plants, it feels a bit like meditation. Sometimes it is stressful when a plant is dying and you’re not sure why, but once I discover all the happy spots in our home for certain plants then I seem to find a flow in feeding and caring for them.



In what other ways do plants nurture you?

We live on a small hobby farm and we are surrounded by bush. Nature is a huge part of our family’s life, we take pride in it and are grateful for its seasonal changes every day. We grow some of our own food and what we don’t grow we try to buy locally from the farmers market. Getting out into the garden or hiking up Mount Macedon is a really important part of my week.



What's your favourite plant?

My favourite plant keeps changing but probably a true favourite is the manna gum (Eucalyptus Viminalis) that surround our house. They are so majestic and host a plethora of wild life. When one of the saplings fell a few years ago and we were chopping it up for firewood a heap of little tree frogs bounced out of what once was the canopy. You’d have never known they were there if the tree hadn’t fallen. Inside the house my most recent favourite plant has been the begonia gifted to me by a local friend. It is so delicate but hardy and has the most beautiful and sweet little clusters of flowers.  My favourite plant to paint on the other hand is the Monstera Deliciosa. It has such pleasing shapes and is a really sculptural plant to include in an interior painting. I also love the reference to artists like Matisse who featured Monsteras often.


What do you find most difficult about plant care?

I find the big plants hard to care for because they are near impossible to move in their heavy pots. I recently had a ficus casualty. It was a case of overwatering which I hadn’t realised was happening. It’s always sad to lose a plant friend.


Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?

Plants are always teaching me things. I definitely need patience, and caring for them does teach me to slow down. Indoor plants get pretty sad at our house in winter so I have tried and tested different positions in the house. Plants outside get eaten by possums and kangaroos so it’s a lot of trial and error getting the right ones for the right places. The wattle is coming into bloom at the moment and some days the sun hits them and they almost shimmer with colour. Plants definitely teach me about colour and composition for my work too.



What's another wellbeing practice you swear by?

Bushwalking and hiking is essential to my physical and mental wellbeing. Even just being outside in the trees is enough to heal the soul. I am very lucky to have so much greenery at my doorstep.



Find more on Elizabeth Barnett here
Photos by Jessica Tremp

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Wellbeing With Plants | Phillip Withers

Wellbeing With Plants | Phillip Withers

By Alana Langan

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

I'm a landscape designer and horticulturalist and the director of Phillip Withers Landscape Design (PWLD).  I've designed multiple award-winning gardens across Australia and have grown a portfolio of professional work along Australia’s east coast. I am very versatile and playful in my design. My trademark is to paint contemporary colour and form into my works with both architectural elements and a strong focus on divine and sensory plant selection. 

I also write garden design articles for well-known publications such as Garden Drum and work closely with various Australian-made brands to raise awareness on the importance of sustainability in landscape design.
 

 

What do you love most about indoor plants?

I love that they can turn places into an environment and create a feeling of biophilia. To be immersed in plants is like a having a crowd of people over for a party, it brings a certain energy and sense of joy.


How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?

 
As humans we have an innate tendency to seek a connection with nature, we try through our work to connect people to nature. Whether it be step outside into the garden and be surrounded or bring the plants in to the people.


 
In what other ways do plants nurture you?
 
Plants help us connect to a place. I believe that the best way to connect to your local area is to understand the plant life; there’s history in every location and if we all took a little bit of time to understand it, we can learn and better understand a place.

Plants are so interesting in their diversity. If we are planning out our spaces we can so easily look to involve useful plants that you can help to build into your life. It also becomes a true beloved past time to work with your indoor/outdoor garden, whether it be herbs on the window sill or fruit trees out on the balcony in pots. Build a ritual into your life and you’ll never regret it.



What's your favourite plant?
 
Its hard for me to pin down to one plant, one of my favourites in the shrub hub at the moment is zamia furfuracea (far left bottom).



What do you find most difficult about plant care?
 
I find that we all have busy lives so at times it's just about keeping up with a routine - it can be hard for all of us to not miss a week of watering or similar. Also, the changes of adapting to conditions such as long cold winters, it brings consideration to the way we care for plant life. We need to ensure we are continually on top of this to  be sure we don’t neglect our plants or be aware of changes just as quick as a plant is.

Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?
 
I think it's taught me that plants are much like people; if they don’t have air, water and good nutrition they will feel it. More than anything else we all want a good routine that changes with the seasons and we can feel happy throughout.
 



What's another wellbeing practice you swear by?
 
Surfing, getting out into nature and placing out a new garden and creating a picture is an amazing feeling. Getting out into nature in general creates a heightened sense of being. Top of the list for me is getting out into the ocean and getting a wave or taking Rue down the Yarra (or Yarra bend) to get our nature fix!

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Wellbeing With Plants: Alex McCabe

Wellbeing With Plants: Alex McCabe

By Jacqui Vidal

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

My name is Alex McCabe and I’m the co-founder and creative director of Kip&Co, a homewares and apparel brand we launched seven years, motivated by the simple idea of bringing a little more colour and fun into every corner of the home, and every member of the family.

 



What do you love most about indoor plants?

When we renovated our home, a big focus for us was how to bring the outside in. The whole home is centred around the view out to the garden, but it's really the indoor plants that complete that goal of having a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor. Plants are like having living art to me, each one is different and I love being able to pick different beautiful pots and vessels to house them. 

 


 
How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?

I think gardening, including indoor plants, is a really good calming hobby, and a great activity to do with kids. So I love the manual side of it - although admit it is more my boyfriend Bobby who is Chief Gardener at home rather than me! 

 


In what other ways do plants nurture you?

My mum is a passionate and beautiful gardener and vigneron so plants hold a special nostalgia for me - a sense of home and memories of the freedom of childhood. Bobby and I have just purchased a small vineyard block and so hope to continue the tradition of being connected to plants for our own family. We’re also, like every man and his dog, bingeing on plant-based diet podcasts and trying to incorporate that a little more into our day to day lives. 

 


 
What's your favourite plant?

Indian rope hoya; I bought Bobby one last year! It has a single strand of leaves that are tightly curled up (on left below). Super cool. 

 


What do you find most difficult about plant care?

We have a small indoor garden bed over our kitchen bench that is almost inaccessible and watered on a drip. The tricky thing is that the leaves get that sticky spotty stuff on them from time to time and Bobby has to get the ladder up and precariously pluck them off and spray the whole thing with a natural leaf protector. Its totally worthwhile but having plants within arms reach would probably be a little easier on the stress levels.

 



Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?
 
Of course! Sometimes we’ve had plants that have been neglected (I’ll put my hand up!) and we’ve had to say goodbye. It's a good reminder that they can’t be ignored, they need to be nurtured and given attention.

 


What's another wellbeing practice you swear by?
 
No phones in the bedroom, daily meditation (I swing in and out of this but it's great when you can do it!), a cup of herbal tea before bed, dancing, and enjoying a good glass of champagne when the occasion calls for it.

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Wellbeing With Plants | Tess Robinson

Wellbeing With Plants | Tess Robinson

By Jacqui Vidal

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

My name is Tess and I am Mum to my baby girl Dylan and Mum/Creative Director/Founder to a few business babies. 
 
My main creative outlet is being the proud Founder and Creative Director of Smack Bang Designs - a boutique creative agency based in Sydney. With a team of 15 spectacularly talented folk, together we elevate brands across the globe. We are a collective of smart-as-hell, genuine, fun, creative thinkers who continue to develop exceptional, market-leading brands by offering design that's as thoughtful as it is beautiful. In short, we propel businesses to their next level of success and have a bloody great time doing so.
 
Alongside Smack Bang, I also run a business with my partner in crime (and life). Byron and I established Urban Growers and recently published a book called Slow Down and Grow Something to promote and encourage nourishment and conscious living. 
 
We design, create and maintain edible gardens in urban spaces to help residential families and forward-thinking corporations enjoy and benefit from the joy of gardening.

 

What do you love most about indoor plants?

Oh, what’s not to love?! My studio and home are both dotted with greenery (and by ‘dotted’; I mean ‘jam-packed’). Not only do they clean the air and are so damn good for our brains (thank you, Mother Nature) but they are such a great way to add life, vibrance and style to a space. I’m an interior designer at heart so I also get a real kick out of sourcing plants for my spaces and seeing them fit so perfectly in their new home.

 

How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?

There is something inherently calming about being in nature, and bringing a little piece of the outdoors in, in the form of an indoor plant - means saying sayonara stress and hello tranquility. Plus, little pockets of green in the home (and our studio digs) make for a healthier and happier me and consequently a more productive and creative mindset. Bueno baby.

 

In what other ways do plants nurture you?

For me, plants are little reminders to slow down. I love the routine of watering and caring for my plants - I find it super therapeutic. It’s nice to get your fingers off the keyboard and in to dirt regularly. When I’m in need of a brainstorm or reflection with my own thoughts, wandering around picking off dead leaves and generally zhuzhing gives me a simple task to keep focused and in a kind of meditative space that generates clarity and creativity. Something I need a shipment of at all times.

 

What's your favourite plant?

Oooft. How can I choose?! Boutins Blue, Date Palm, Euphorbia, Dracaena Draco, Aloe Plicatilis, Burbank Blue - They’ll all be receiving an invite to my funeral.

 

What do you find most difficult about plant care?

To be honest, it’s really not that difficult to not brutally murder a houseplant. In saying this, I do have a secret weapon up my sleeve. My knight in shiny armor (read bushman in dirty overalls) who doubles as not only my life partner but a qualified plant-carer-horticulturalist-person- thingy.

He’s got it under control, praise be. And then there’s my lovely EA, Ellie, who waters our studio plants every Monday. She loves this routine to start off her week, so I really couldn’t take it away from her, could I now?!

 

Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?

Firstly, it’s a reminder to forever stay in awe, be thankful and eternally grateful for Mother Nature. Plants have led me into a career path that I would have never found otherwise. Byron’s love of plants opened up our world to begin Urban Growers and for that I am incredibly grateful. Our tagline is ‘Inspired by the endless potential of greener spaces’ and the more and more I expand my thinking in this space, the more I realise that the potential truly is endless - plants teach us to be mindful, allow us to be healthy, bring together communities and are the key to a brighter future for our kids.

 

What's another wellbeing practice you swear by?

Meditation is a big one, but probably more than that is my daily beach time. The beach is my sanity and I make sure to go and see either the sunrise or the sunset each day. There’s something so calming and inspiring about seeing the vast spaciousness out to the horizon. No matter what the weather is up to, the ocean always mesmerises me and I just love that no two days ever look the same down there.

Wherever you go, whatever time of the day or night, I’m simply a big believer that we all need to take a moment every day to sit (or stroll) silently, with our own thoughts to reflect or reset.

 

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Wellbeing With Plants | Jacqui Vidal

Wellbeing With Plants | Jacqui Vidal

By Jacqui Vidal

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
 
So many words spring to mind! Mum, small business owner, plant lover, yogi, housekeeper and general household peace moderator! Most relevant to this is that I'm the Co-Founder of IVY MUSE. Alongside best friend Alana Langan, we started IVY MUSE nearly five years ago and it's been five years of fun, laughter, learning and let's not forget the biggie - hard work!


(Photo: Armelle Habib Styling Heather Nette King for The Age)

What do you love most about indoor plants?

I love their ability to transform a place. After we wrote our book "Plant Style: How To Greenify Your Space", we had a lot of interest from customers as to whether we offered plant styling as a service - and of course we wanted to say yes. Now most weeks we're welcomed into homes and commercial spaces that, whilst lovely are lacking an air of "comfort" as they are devoid of plants. Being able to see first-hand the 'before' and 'after' effect of adding living plants into an environment makes me respect them even more. Not only do they have an amazing visual impact on the space, but clients seem more relaxed and noticeably less stressed once they've incorporated the benefits of plants into their life. 

How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?

They make me pause. Life is so busy with both an eight year-old and a nine month-old, plus running a business (and doing multiple loads of washing every day)! The simple act of 'giving' to your plants; watering them, pruning them, wiping dust off their leaves, acts as a moving meditation for me, time for my mind to be still as it connects to nature itself.


(Photo: Armelle Habib Styling Heather Nette King for The Age)

In what other ways do plants nurture you?

I'm lucky that I have a job that I love. On the days when I'm working in our Armadale Botanical Emporium I'm surrounded by plants, and from the moment I arrive to the moment I leave there is a sense of ease in my body. There's nothing like being surrounded by a lush jungle at work.


What's your favourite plant?

I have had a Pink Princess Philodendron for a couple of years now. It's so odd as I never used to like the colour pink and was quite the tomboy growing up. But, when I had my daughter Ellis 8 years ago and she turned out to be such a girly little girl, I caught the 'pink' bug! Especially when it comes to the softer, paler shades of pink. 


(Photo: Armelle Habib Styling Heather Nette King for The Age)

What do you find most difficult about plant care?
 
At the moment I'm struggling with keeping my baby from pulling off the lower leaves of our Fiddle, that happily resides in our living room! 


Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?

I've definitely noticed that everything has its own rhythm and routine. Plants are no different. They have their own intuitive cycles and once you find yourself wise to them,
plant care becomes a sixth sense!


(Photo: Armelle Habib / Styling: Heather Nette King for The Age)

What's another wellbeing practice you swear by?

When we opened our Armadale Botanical Emporium we were lucky enough to have the most welcoming neighbours in Happy Melon. Being right next door to an amazing yoga studio rekindled my love affair with yoga. I've been practicing since I was 19 and have tried so many styles of yoga over time but the vinyasa flow classes have been my go-to for the last couple of years.

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Wellbeing With Plants | Kate Pascoe-Squires

Wellbeing With Plants | Kate Pascoe-Squires

By Jacqui Vidal

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

I am the creator of The Slowdown Press - an online journal that explores The Slowdown moment, hour, practice and life – because it’s so important, for all of us. The Slowdown looks different for everyone, but that time, that second of pure joy, is where life can get really exciting. Our interviews are raw and involved, often emotional, difficult and tender. The project really is a labour of love for me and I couldn’t be prouder of how it’s all coming together. 
 
Along with the journal, I also consult to a range of small creative businesses on everything from overall marketing strategy, right through to the nitty gritty of social media, public relations and all the other goodness that goes into making a successful business.


What do you love most about indoor plants?

I’m obsessed with greenery throughout our home. I naturally gravitate towards a black, white and neutral palette, so pops of green everywhere literally make the space come to life. We live in a terrace in Bondi Junction and are so thankful that the original architect allowed for a huge light shaft through the middle of the house. We have packed this area full of plants, including Fiddle Leaf Figs, which I adore. Even though they are, on paper, outdoor plants, it really feels as though our whole dining and living area is filled with nature.

That’s the dream when living in such a high-density area and is by far, the best feature of our home.
 

 
How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?

I just love how they clean the air – especially in the winter, when the doors are closed and the heaters are pumping. Things start to feel a little stagnant inside during those cold months, so our indoor plants have their work cut out for them!
 

 
In what other ways do plants nurture you?

We have heavily planted the outdoor areas of our home for aesthetics, of course, but also to try and offset the pollution, dust and God knows what else we are subjected to living so close to the city. Terraces can be tricky to “green out”, but we have really worked hard to make our home a bit of an oasis. There are tiny gardens on all levels of this house, so wherever we are, we are able to enjoy a leafy-green outlook. 
 
Our office was looking a little bare recently and, with all high-rise construction around us, we found ourselves craving even more greenery. We wanted to have a little fun with it though, so we planted four enormous cacti in boxes on the front balcony. They make me happy every single day and are beautifully sculptural.
 

 
What's your favourite plant?
 
I would have to say Fiddle Leaf Figs – I know they are popular, but they are so beautiful. There’s a reason why people love them, right? We used to have two in pots inside, but they became a little woody (probably due to our sub-par care of them!)… but we moved them outside and they have since flourished. Joy! 
 
I also have to make a special mention of the Frangipani Tree, which reminds me of long days, summer vibes and everything good about living in Sydney. The smell of Frangipani flowers cannot be beaten. And they’re super pretty too. We had a tree in our front garden when we lived on the beach in Clovelly almost eight and a half years ago. When we sold the house, we naughtily dug her up and popped her into an oversized pot on our balcony. She’s still going strong all these years later and is my little piece of beachy-happiness.
 
 

What do you find most difficult about plant care?
 
I find everything really difficult about plant care! I literally have no idea what I am doing when it comes to gardening, but I do it with love. I don’t know how to plant pots, how often to water, when to repot, where they should be positioned… But the good news is, I know my weaknesses, so I have an excellent gardener come semi-regularly to help undo all of my mistakes. I can thank her for the amazing state of our green friends.
 

 
Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?
 
It’s definitely shown me that, in the end, nature conquers all. Nature is incredibly resilient and so determined. Also, full of life, energy and stillness all at once. I honestly think nature teaches us the best lessons of them all, if we are just slow down enough to take notice of them.
 

 
What's another wellbeing practice you swear by?
 
I have two that come in equally, hand in hand. I like to get up before the troops in the morning (luckily, my son Harry (9) and daughter Helena (7) are no longer early risers, so that’s not a difficult task) and meditate for 20 minutes before my day gets underway. I also answer a few key questions to get me in the right frame of mind for the day… “How can I be the best me? How can I be the best mum? How can I be the best wife?” When you’re not feeling the morning, answering these tend to get me going – and in a good frame of mind too!
 
In the evening, I like to have a glass of rosé or chardonnay while I’m cooking dinner. I find this makes it into an enjoyable occasion – instead of an underappreciated chore.

Photography by Danielle Cross 

Follow Kate @theslowdownpress
 

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Wellbeing With Plants | Masha Gorodilova

Wellbeing With Plants | Masha Gorodilova

By Alana Langan

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

I am a yogi and a Co-Founder of Happy Melon Studios in High Street, Armadale. We have been open since April 2016 and became neighbours with IVY MUSE a few months after.

What do you love most about indoor plants?
 
I love how indoor plants make spaces (and Happy Melon) look alive. It’s almost like the place breathes deeper and there's a real quality of tranquility.



How do indoor plants enhance your wellbeing?
 
At Happy Melon we talk a lot about the quality of breath. In order to slow the mind chatter down we ask guests to focus on the breath and organically everything slows down. I think the same thing happens with plants. They make you slow down and
appreciate the moments in between.


What was the first indoor plant you ever had?  
 
I grew up in Russia, a very cold country. In winter there is nothing green but indoor plants. I don’t remember my first but I do remember stealing plants (or the roots of the plants) from school so my home could look greener. I guess I didn't have any money to buy them so I was sharing the plants from school (!).



Has taking care of plants taught you anything insightful?
 
It’s not as easy as I thought. I keep learning which plants need more water or love -
and some just don’t need any. They are a living creature and I need to learn to
understand them more. 

What's another wellness practice you swear by?
 
I am a litte biased but yoga and meditation is my road to wellness. I would love to practice yoga till I am very old. Meditation is non negotiable for me even with a 10-month old baby. If you think you don’t have 10 mins, meditate for 20.






 

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