Now some of you may say plants never go out of style, but in the past couple of years their popularity in home decor and design has grown in a huge way (pun absolutely intended). Wonder Plants: Your Urban Jungle Interior by Irene Schampaert and Judith Baehner, is a tribute to some of of the most marvellous and magical renderings of botanical style and a primer in plant care for readers looking to enliven their spaces with the same greenery at home.
The first three quarters of the book is a pictorial look at plants in interior design, and for that it makes a stunning coffee table book. Twenty unique living and work/living spaces from around the world are showcased in lush, full-page photographs — we meet their owners and occupants (mostly artists and business owners) and learn about their favourite plants and how they use them (be it to create atmosphere or a sense of security or for sheer happiness).
This house in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, is both a home and gallery for architect and art collector John Henry. “Bright colours, iconic furniture and gigantic plants in the ground instead of in pots: all these elements make this glass house an eccentric spot,” write the authors. “… The house’s eccentric image is determined in no small part by the sumptuous greenery, much of it exotic, as well as the plastic flamingos and the tinkling waterfall in the indoor pond.”
For John, the Philodendrons make the most impact in the space with their intense colour in striking contrast to the cool white walls.
If you don’t know a Philodendron from a fiddle-leaf fig, not to worry, a chapter at the end of the book identifies the plants in each space and explains why they work there. In John Henry’s space, for example, “The light from above in this house encourages plants to grow straight towards the roof and keeps the temperature pleasant and warm enough from them to thrive. Plants like the Philodendron (Philodendron scandens) adore the light from above. However, they also appreciate a humid environment, so if the air in your home is less humid, you might want to mist your plants. The high ceiling is ideal for a nice indoor tree. This house is unique because all the plants have their own spot; it seems as though the house has been built around the plants. The big stones make it feel like it’s part of the outdoors.”
Here we see a peek at a studio in the Antwerp, Belgium home of Texan artist Tim Stokes and Parisian architect Nathalie Wolberg, which also serves as a rental space for photoshoots and pop-up shops. “This building also harbours a vibrant life between colourful walls in hidden corners, and under bright neon lights, but most of all, in living greenery,” the authors write. “The border between interior and exterior is almost confusingly blurred.”
A centuries-old building in the heart of Madrid, Spain, was lovingly restored to its current use as a home and fine-leather goods workshop by artists Melina Carranza and David Iglesias. Melina moved there from Mexico and missed being surrounded by lush greenery so she assembled a lovely collection of plants over the years.
“The building, which receives a great deal of indirect light thanks to the large windows and direct sunlight here and there and with its soaring four-metre ceilings, was the perfect place to display her beautiful collection,” write the authors. ” … A corner in the studio was selected to place a large assortment of plants in a cluster, creating the impression of a garden inside the house. The ‘indoor jungle’ that is has become by now is tended with great love and attention. The plants are strategically positioned and structured according to the care they need.”
Can you identify any of the plants Melina’s indoor jungle? When we cross-reference the space to the chapter at the end of the book, we see it includes the dwarf umbrella tree, the rubber fig, honeysuckle, elephant’s ear, spider wort and asparagus fern. All of which are further identified in a separate plant index, including each plant’s origins; water, light and air needs; and instructions for general care. This last quarter of the book also features a brief glossary of key terms and an alphabetized list of plants appearing in the book.
Wonder Plants is a gorgeous and inspirational study in the incredible impact plants can have on the atmosphere and design sensibilities of a space — in this case, 20 incredible and unique work and living spaces from Tokyo to New York and everywhere in between. It’s also a valuable reference guide for readers like myself who love plants but know very little about how to take care of them (or even what they’re called).
And if you have trouble preventing yourself from bringing more plants into your home, well know that this book won’t help that one bit. It’s a beautiful book, and it’ll be right at home among all of your green friends.
For a chance to win a copy of Wonder Plants, tell me where you keep your favourite plant in your home (and what kind of plant is it?) in the comments below. (This entry is mandatory).
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#Win a copy of Wonder Plants: Your Urban Jungle Interior from @trysmallthings http://bit.ly/wplants CAN/US 3/6 #wonderplants
The giveaway is open to Canadian and US residents 18+ and ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on March 6, 2017. The potential winner (chosen at random) must respond to prize notification within 48 hours and provide the correct answer to a skill-testing question, otherwise another winner will be selected.
Update March 15, 2017: Congratulations Val R!
Photos 2 through 6 shared here with permission from the publisher. Photos 2 and 3: Armelle Habib; photo 4: Tim Van de Velde; photo 5: rebenque.com; photo 6: Serge Anton. Lannoo sent me a copy of Wonder Plants in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.