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Wellbeing With Plants: Elizabeth Barnett

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