The other day I was able to catch the documentary Five Seasons on legendary gardener Piet Oudolf, who notably envisioned the meadow-like plantings on NYC’s The Highline and who owns Future Plants, a perennial plant nursery and breeder in the Netherlands.
What was very apparent from the documentary was how intentional and planned his work is, but also his deep reverence for seeing how that design plan compliments and goes hand in hand with nature’s own process. His color palettes are notable with deep burgundy’s, grays and beige punctuated with pops of brighter color, and as the title suggests, beautiful in all four seasons. His gardens have a focus on structural plants that are sturdy throughout weather changes, use a lot of repetition, and a diverse array of plants that give the impression of a wild meadow but would never actually be found together in the wild.
I am personally inspired by the intersection of landscape design with man-made architecture and environments and always head straight to the parks of every city I visit. I have been to Lurie Garden, one of his projects in Chicago, and especially loved the way the plantings there lead your eyes right to the modern building behind it.
Below is the trailer for the documentary. What are some of the most inspiring gardens you have visited?
You guys: have you ever felt that slow, bubbling excitement that creeps upon you unexpectedly and alerts you to impending positive energy and creativity – to something beautiful and exciting on the horizon?
I know I wax on about creativity and burn out and sabbaticals and my non-linear entrepreneurial journey a lot, but that’s because I thrive on reflection and that is what I’m doing constantly. For me things sometimes move slow like honey pouring out of a jar – but they are still moving even if it feels like they are not. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of dramatic reveals and epiphanies – mine come slowly, a lot like honey, but also like this peony bloom.
I know that something lovely is coming, and I watch it with eager anticipation over weeks, thinking when will it bloom – and then on the day that it does, it unfurls slowly, and even more beautifully than I could have imagined, over still, a period of days. It’s an exercise in meditation and patience.
This peony inspired me to get out my camera and take a legit tabletop photo – something I adore doing but had to put aside for awhile. Something beautiful is reemerging in this season, like it always does after a period of dormancy. Nature is beautiful in its consistency and yet it always feels unexpectedly breathtaking at the sight of new growth and returning blossoms.
I am always on the hunt for sources of inspiration that combine plants and interior design and highlight both through beautiful photographs. Recently I happened upon the book House of Plants, which you can find in the Gather Goods shop here. The book was written by two girls who run a company called Ro Co in North London.
I love that the interiors showcased in the book are both clean and collected, a look that is harder than it seems to achieve. This entryway storage shelf shown here embodies a feeling of controlled clutter, which I feel like is the most many of us can hope for in our homes. I’m lucky to see a semi uncluttered house maybe once a week with a tween in the house who likes to make her own collections out of everything she picks up.
Ro & Co embraces air plants, terrariums and all things green and makes plant crafts and displays in their conservatory/studio.
The book is dotted with sweet illustrations like this one that was in the front and back end papers of the book.
I often get asked how to care for air plants & keep them healthy. It’s really quite simple if you keep the following two things in mind: light (bright – but not directly in a window), water (once a week is ideal). That’s easy, right?
First of all what are air plants? Air plants are cool looking plants that don’t need soil in order to grow and thrive. They are a unique organism called an ephiphyte, which basically means that it lives quietly alongside other plants but doesn’t depend on them for sustenance. This is unlike most plants which need to absorb the nutrients in dirt and soil to grow.
Because they don’t need soil, air plants can be displayed in a variety of ways: they can be hung, perched on a shelf, put inside a glass vessel, all without the need to “plant” them. They are native to places like Florida where if you look up into the trees you can see them gently attached to the branches.
Light: Air plants need bright light but shouldn’t be placed directly in a window or the leaves might burn. If you notice brown tips on your air plant it means that it is drying out or that it is too bright. Luckily, you have an easy fix, just bring it a little ways away from the window and spritz your plant with an air plant spritzer, such as the ones in our shop here, to give it some moisture. I recommend spritzing your air plants once a week, but they can stand a little neglect, which is one of the things I love about them. They are a really low-maintenance plant with a lot of impact. Another thing to keep in mind in regards to light is to not keep your air plants in a basement or bathroom that is dark and doesn’t have good air circulation.
Water: Air plants don’t like to be too moist, and again, I err on the side of neglect with mine, often going a few weeks without watering them. Ideally, they should get a gentle soaking bath once a week. I like to immerse them in a pan of shallow water for about twenty minutes in lukewarm water. Just like us they can get shocked if the water is too hot or too cold. After soaking for the twenty minutes dump out the water (or reuse it to water other plants) and let your air plants dry out for a few hours.
Maintenance: All plants will develop some dried out leaves as they grow over time, these are normal and should be gently pulled off and discarded to allow room for new growth. Also like us, they are affected by extreme temperatures. Air plants need air to grow, so make sure they get good air circulation and aren’t kept in a closed container like other terrarium plants, instead put them in an open top container. If you are feeling ambitious and especially nurturing you can fertilize them once a month with bromeliad fertilizer. If you fertilize them, only do so once a month or the fertilizer can also burn the plant.
Blooming: A few of the hundred different varieties of tillandsia air plants bloom, so if you have a blooming air plant, enjoy it, as it is a one time thing in the life of the plant and can last anywhere from a week to a month, but most likely won’t happen again.
Overall, if you feel like you don’t have a green thumb and are looking for an easy introductory plant to test out your houseplant skills, I would highly recommend these cool plants that I have fallen in love with. We have a lot of air plant varieties in our shop space in downtown Raleigh and some online too. I hope these tips help you on your journey towards a greener thumb and a house filled with lush plants.