Bring na­ture home with house plants

Packed with dec­o­ra­tive power, house plants are the new must-have ac­ces­sories

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Outdoors -

might soften the rigid lines of a shelv­ing sys­tem. At this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to­gether with Ikea, the largest seller of house plants in the UK, Drum­mond set out a three-room in­stal­la­tion to show the dec­o­ra­tive power of plants in a mod­ern home.

In the liv­ing room, a row of daintyleaved Fi­cus ben­jam­ina, dropped into felt cube planters, lined up on a trio of pushed-to­gether cof­fee ta­bles, makes a great room divider. “In good light these plants will grow quite quickly, so if you don’t have a gar­den, it’s fun to have a hedge you can trim in­doors,” says Drum­mond, who filled Ikea’s take on the ter­rar­ium — a glass ves­sel with two large holes for easy plant­ing — with a se­lec­tion of baby cacti and suc­cu­lents that needs no wa­ter­ing. Stain­less steel fruit bowls and smaller vo­tive can­dle hold­ers, clus­tered in a group, hold no­main­te­nance aloes and agaves, topped with moss, which is also used ef­fec­tively to make tex­tu­ral wall art, neatly framed. “The moss is pre­served — you can buy it at good florists or from the flower mar­ket — so it will last,” says Drum­mond. “Then all we did was glue the moss on to a framed mir­ror.”

In one cor­ner, a yucca, stark against the white wall, makes a strong ver­ti­cal state­ment. “The yucca is a much­ma­ligned plant,” he says, “but it’s clean-cut, con­tem­po­rary and is ideal for a cor­ner or a nar­row hall­way.”

In the bath­room, small bas­ketweave pots hold table­top plants of maid­en­hair muehlen­beckia that can be slot­ted into any tight cor­ner and, un­fussy plant that it is, will thrive even in low light lev­els.

On a small wooden lad­der against a wall, that might more usu­ally hold tow­els, white pots of guz­ma­nia bromeli­ads are hooked on to ev­ery rung, their fo­liage fun­nels tinted bright orange, scar­let and carmine. Drum­mond says they just love the hu­mid­ity.

Plac­ing pots of san­se­vieria, stripy mother-in-law’s tongue, on bed­side ta­bles is a novel choice, but Drum­mond points out that the plant, un­like most oth­ers, re­leases oxy­gen at night in­stead of dur­ing the day and thus helps to im­prove the qual­ity of the air we breathe while we sleep. Other night­time oxy­gena­tors in­clude aloe vera, the peace lily, and pha­laenop­sis as well as den­dro­bium or­chids. On a ledge be­hind the bed­head, grass-green bird’s foot ivies trail from bas­ketweave hold­ers.

ABOVE the bed is a hang­ing gar­den of pretty, lacyedged planters — the in­door equiv­a­lent of hang­ing bas­kets but mi­nus drainage holes, so no wor­ries about drip­ping wa­ter — con­tain­ing as­para­gus ferns, ivies and suc­cu­lents, plants that need lit­tle wa­ter­ing, and proof that the com­bi­na­tion of white and green is as fresh and invit­ing in­doors as it is out­side.

In­door topi­ary: Fi­cus ben­jam­ina make a green hedge, while be­neath them, ter­rar­i­ums hold baby cacti Gar­den­ing prob­lems?

Hang­ing gar­den: a towel lad­der makes a dis­play for bromeli­ads

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