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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Holiday Gifting, Plant Care, Plant of The Month

How to Grow Your Love?

February 1, 2018

Ahhhhhh…. It’s that time of the year again! You start seeing hearts and roses popping up in store aisles and windows everywhere. February – the official time to celebrate love. Why not skip roses and celebrate it with our Sweetheart Hoya this year?!

Meet Hoya kerrii 

If you remembered seeing a vine-y plant creeping around your grandma’s kitchen cupboard, chances are it was a Hoya plant. This classic, beloved plant is especially good for an indoor environment. It lives forever, grows to be enormous, and creates beautiful flowers (if you are lucky – but more on that later). And our hero of the story, the Hoya kerrii, also nicknamed the Sweetheart plant, is in-fact in the big Hoya family. The Hoya kerrii is unique and famous for its fleshy heart-shaped leaves. It is a slow-growing succulent vine, native to Southeast Asia, that is ridiculously easy to care for.

 

Caring Your Hoya kerrii 

Fret not, your Sweetheart plant is hardy and even drought-tolerate. It is a low-maintenance gem we recommend to everyone, even beginners. Generally speaking, treat them like a succulent: lots of sun and the occasional watering. A general rule of thumb – it is best to underwater than to overwater. Still unsure how often? Look for the little sign – it tells you it’s thirsty when the leaf gets wrinkly.

 

Toxicity of Hoya kerrii

Love is toxic… just kidding! Your Hoya is non-toxic. In fact, it is perfect for parents and pet-owners.

 

But what about flowers?

We get it, you still want flowers. It is really rewarding to see your Sweetheart plant flower because of how slow growing it is. However, it is very difficult to to predict when they do. Generally speaking, most plants flower when they reach maturity and are very happy. If you provide them with ideal care and growing conditions, then you might be rewarded with yearly fragrant flowers. (Word on the street is, they generally reach a pot size of about 8″ in diameter before they flower.) It’s always best to focus on keeping the plants happy, rather than pushing them to flower. When it happens, it happens 😉

 

So there you go! With the right amount of love, water, and time – heart-shaped leaf after heart-shaped leaf of Hoya will grow. Its slow growth is said to represent eternal love – whether between significant others, best friends, or self-love! (And let’s be honest here, why would you want flowers – something that will die in a week – to represent your undying love?) So why not grow your love this year instead?

 

P.S. Don’t have enough sunlight for sun-loving Sweethearts? Check out more options to grow your love here!

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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Holiday Gifting, How-to, Plant Care, Plant History, Plant of The Month

Marimo 101

January 2, 2018

The name Marimo (毬藻, Aegagropila linnaei) originated from Japanese botanist Tatsuhiko Kawakami: 毬 ‘mari’ = ball and 藻 ‘mo’ = generic term for aquatic plants!

The Marimo ‘Moss’ Ball, as it’s commonly called, is not moss at all – but a freshwater, filamentous green algal colony! Native to previously glaciated areas of the world including Japan, Russia, Iceland, and parts of North America – the Marimo’s round shape is the result of freshwater lake motion. And although Marimo live in water, they’re not as slimy as you’d think they are. They’re actually quite fluffy, almost velvety, in nature.

Pet Marimo - The Sill

MARIMO FAQs

1. How do I care my Marimo at home?
Clean, cool water – and minimal light!

The lakes that Marimo have evolved in are alkaline, calciferous lakes – so for the optimal health of your Marimo at home, always use filtered water. Because Marimo balls live at the bottom of lakes, and roll along the bottom with the current, they receive very little light. In caring for your Marimo – keep it out of direct sun. An hour or so of direct sun is tolerable, as long as the temperature of the water stays cool. Freshwater lakes, especially at the bottom where Marimo live, are cold – and temperatures can range from 5C to 35C.

2. What type of light source do I use?
Moderate to low, natural or artificial light will help keep your Marimo happy and healthy. An hour or so of direct sunlight is fine, as long as it is far away from a window, and the Marimo’s water doesn’t heat up.

Trio of Marimo balls - The Sill

3. Do I need to change the water? What water do I use?
Although tap water is OK, we prefer to use either brita-filtered water, or bottled water. If possible, change your Marimo’s water once every two weeks.

4. What should I do when changing water?
Gently squeeze your Marimo to remove any dirt trapped in it’s fluff, then roll your Marimo back and forth on a soft surface, like your palm, to help it retain its circular shape.

Gently roll your Marimo in your palm to help it retain its circular shape - The Sill

5. How long will my Marimo live?
Marimos are slow growers – growing one or two tenths of an inch a year. However, the world’s largest Marimo is almost 40 inches in diameter, making it an estimated 200+ years old. Your Marimo can last for decades with the proper care and environment.

6. Help! My Marimo is changing in color. 
A yellow or brown Marimo is a sick Marimo. Your Marimo could be receiving too much sunlight, have an infection, or its water quality could have decreased. We recommend washing your Marimo under running water, replacing its water, and adding some salt. Make sure to use aquarium salt – not table salt! You can find it on Amazon, or at your local pet store. Add this directly to your Marimo’s container – about 5% of your water volume.

7. How long can a Marimo last without water? 
If conditions are ideal – Marimos can live for one month without water.

Marimo balls - The Sill

8. Will my Marimo float or sink?
Your Marimo will spend its majority of time at the bottom of its container, like it would in its native lake environment. However, a Marimo does perform photosynthesis, and makes oxygen. These oxygen bubbles may make your Marimo float up to the surface of the water for a period of time. The more sun your Marimo receives, the more oxygen it will produce. You can also make your Marimo float by squeezing the water out of it, but we don’t recommend toying with them too often – they’re happiest when left to float or sink on their own.

9. Will my Marimo reproduce? 
Your Marimo might reproduce when large enough and kept in a large container. You will see a bump growing on your Marimo – that’s a baby Marimo in the making. We do not recommend forcing your Marimo to reproduce by splitting it in two – more often than not, it will not be able to bounce back.

10. Is there anyway to get my Marimo to grow faster?
Marimo are slow growers! Be patient. Lower water temperatures, better water quality, and an extremely diluted amount of fertilizer can help. More light equals more growth, so a few hours of sunlight can also give your Marimo a boost, but be very careful not to cook your Marimo in direct light.

11. Can my Marimo survive in a fully sealed container?
A Marimo can survive in fully sealed container, but we recommend picking one with a loose lid, which will allow your marimo to breathe with its environment.

Happy Marimo - The Sill

12. Fun Fact
According to a Japanese legend, there were two lovers who longed to be together. One, the daughter of a tribe chief; the other a poor commoner. When the chief forbade them from being together – the couple ran away, fell into the water, and became Marimo balls – able to live together forever. Because of this, Marimo balls, sometimes referred to as ‘love plants’, are thought to bring luck, love, and happiness, and have the ability to heal a broken heart.

P.S. ADOPT YOUR VERY OWN MARIMO: Shop now.

 

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Laura Serventi, Painter and illustrator, @art_n_people

December 20, 2017

For our latest installment of our tastemaker series, we want to introduce you to Laura Serventi. We first encountered Laura’s work on Instagram and we were blown away. Laura’s amazing use of vibrant colors and plant-inspired intricate artwork captured our hearts immediately – and we wanted to know more. Let’s meet Laura! 

Name(s): LAURA

Location: Brooklyn

Occupation:  painter/illustrator

Favorite Plant: Cathalea Dottie

Can you share a little bit of background about yourselves?

I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My grandfather, who was a painter himself, was an important influence on me. He transmitted me his love for art and it grew deeply inside of me.

I attended the School of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, where I studied Painting, and then moved to Italy to study Photography. While I was there, my art projects were mainly photographic,  and I stopped painting all together. I thought it was not for me anymore, and  decided to concentrate on photography.  But after a while, paint started leaking back into my projects : from a few painted details in a photographic collage project , to a series of  b&w photographs colored by hand,  to painting mural size landscapes just to use as photographic backdrops.

I had moved to N.Y. by then. Looking back ,I think those big landscapes defined my return to painting and triggered my plant obsession. I started painting again after that.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed- @art_n_people?

I use @  art_n_people to share pictures of my new work, the painting process, my house/studio and my plants. It’s a little window to my world.

You draw many inspiration from nature a lot, why is that?

Nature is present throughout all of my work, and its presence and meaning has changed through time. For me it’s a place of discovery, adventure and wonder. Both my Tropical and Garden series are linked to childhood experiences, and so they could be related to the concept of Lost Paradise. A safe place to retrieve when the chaos of this world swallows you.

Can you explain a little bit more of your painting/art process?

I paint with gouache and acrylics on paper. I use a lot of archive photographs from my trips to botanical gardens and keep a big number of plant books and encyclopedias to feed my imagination.

What advice would you give people who wants to be a professional illustrator/painter?

Create a routine, be consistent, don’t paint or draw only when you feel “inspired”. Create short term goals and try to stick to them. Look at other artist’s work. Choose a theme you ‘re interested in and develop a series. Be persistent.

What is your favorite plant and why?

It’s really hard to choose one… and it changes all the time, but right now I’m in love with the calathea plant in all its variations, which are many, I love the colors, the green and the purples and the deep pink stripes, just ovely… and  they’re great to paint!

Do you have a “green thumb”?

I’m afraid I don’t! I have many, many plants at home and I absolutely adore them, but they are alive  and growing beautifully thanks to my husband. He takes great care of them and leaves very precise watering instructions whenever he’s away…

Any plant care tips you can share?

don’t overwater…that’s all I know…!

What tops your houseplant wish list?

Calathea, Maranta ( the prayer plant), Jade plant, and Capitata Peach

Favorite hobby:  dance

Favorite television show:  stranger things

Favorite food:  any kind of pasta

Favorite weekend activity:  long lazy breakfast, spending time with my little son, going on day  trips, spending  time  outdoor,  painting.

Favorite home decor store:   I don’t have a store I usually go, I prefer thrift shops and flea markets.

What’s a secret skill you have?  

I can dance flamenco 😉

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?

My husband is the best at surprising me every birthday with beautiful and alternative Art books. I  definitely need more shelves…

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?

I guess you’re talking about material stuff…so, my paintings and my hardrives, oh and my greencard!

What’s on your to-do list today?

I’ll be participating of the Renegade Craft Fair in a few days so most of my list today is related to that: I print all my illustrations myself,  so…. PRINT, PRINT, PRINT. Other than that, I will finish hand painted totes, ship orders, check paper and ink supply, follow up on Emails and buy groceries and bread.

What’s next for @art_n_people? 

More paintings and  some  collaborations  with  fashion  brands.

Thank you so much, Laura!

Follow Laura’s Instagram page here – and shop her amazing works here

P.S Find more of our tastemaker series! Including a plant artist, @teenytinyterra, who can build a terrarium in 24 seconds, and a time-lapse master, @houseplantjournal, who captures plants’ nastic movements in 24 hours. 

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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Holiday Gifting, Plant Care, Plant History, Plant of The Month

Meet Poinsettias (and know them once and for all)

December 19, 2017

You have seen it every year. It represents the happiest and jolliest time of the year. It is particularly well known for its red foliage. It is widely used in Christmas displays (huge giveaway), but no, it is not a flower. Ok..fine, meet Poinsettias. 🙂

image via here

Where did Poinsettias come from?

Poinsettias, native to Mexico, received their name in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced the plant to the United States in 1825. Poinsett, an amateur botanist, came across the poinsettia south of Mexico City, where it is called “Flor de Noche Buena”, or Christmas Eve Flower. He brought the vibrant red and green plant back to his South Carolina plantation where he continued to cultivate them and gave cuttings as gifts to friends. The plant later became a holiday staple.

Are Poinsettias a plant?

Yes, in fact, Poinsettias are a type of “succulent” – they are in the Euphorbia family. Botanically, it is known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. In addition, many mistake its colorful foliage as flowers, but they are in fact leaves called bracts. They are traditionally red, but you can find white, pink, orange, pale green, or multi color. You can find over 100 cultivated varieties of poinsettias available in the market now.

What about the toxicity?

Poinsettia plant has received a bad rep. Most believe that it is poisonous, which is quite a misunderstanding. Remember we said it belongs to the Euphorbia family? The genus Euphorbia itself is a highly-toxic family, but the popular poinsettia itself is not toxic in the same way. It oozes out white sap that is dangerous to people and animals who are allergic to latex. As always, seek medical attention immediately when digestion occurs. FYI, this applies to any type of plants.

So there you go – now you truly know and understand Poinsettias. Enjoy it!

P.S Did you know December 12th is Poinsettia Day?

 

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Plant Care

Jesse Goldfarb, Plant Artist, @teenytinyterra

December 12, 2017

Our newest installment in our Tastemaker series features Canada-based plant artists – Jesse Goldfarb, aka @teenytinyterra! We came across his whimsical terrariums that he builds and wanted to know more about where his inspiration comes from. Check out our Q&A with Jesse below! photo via David Pike

Name: Jesse Goldfarb
Location: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Plant Artist/Digital Marketer [at Hudson’s Bay]
Favorite plant:
Oh, great question. I go through little crushes with plants, but always find my way back to our
family’s Dwarf Barbados Cherry Bonsai. Making it happy enough to bloom is a fine art that is
rewarded with the sweet smell of hundreds of tiny cherry blossoms. When I first met my wife,
she had two bonsai and that’s what got me seriously into plants.

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?
Sure. I grew up in Toronto. At school I was always bored; I wanted to do things rather than sit
around learning about the people who did them. My professional life has included a lot of
different jobs –– I’ve worked as a large-format screen printer, an apprentice to a corporate
events florist, a cold caller selling ads (which was actually fun), a DJ at raves and clubs (in my
heyday when I was way too young to be out all night), and spent too long in the salon industry
listening to stylists who believed they were saving the world. I ran social channels for mid-size
apparel companies before I started my current role in digital marketing. Now I do that during
the day, and play with plants evenings and weekends. I have a wonderfully patient wife and
daughter and another daughter on the way.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed, @teenytinyterra?
@teenytinyterra is an outlet for me to share my creativity with terrariums, plants, moss and
everything tiny. I like to have fun with it and keep things fresh. 90% of my posts are shot from a
lighting shelf I installed aquarium lights on. As my plants are all very small, using this platform
makes it easy to move things around and create a different feel for each photo. My south-
facing kitchen windowsill is also a favorite spot for shooting, as the light is perfect for two hours
every day. (Timing a quick shoot using natural light is always a juggling act with a young family.)

What’s a secret skill you have?
I can whistle five different ways? Is that a skill? (Editor’s note: YES!)

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?
When I turned 18, my dad took me out for a birthday dinner with my grandparents. After the
main course he gave me a tiny model of a vintage Vespa. I thought it was great and all, but then
he threw me a set of keys to a full-size 1967 Vespa. It was a dream to drive when it worked
(which was 60% of the time). My love for both miniatures and Vespas began that day. Now I
own a 2005 150 cc Vespa. Every model manufactured after that year doesn’t seem to have the
brand’s classic look and feel.

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?
If I was alone I’d grab a picture of my mother. She died when I was four years old and all I have
to remember her are some photos. If I was home with the fam, I’d throw them over my shoulder and jet out the door. I assume you want me to say plants, but they came from the earth and would be happy to feed other plants as ash.

What’s on your to-do list today?
Booking our family holiday to our favorite place in Mexico, Azul Fives, cleaning up after a
terrarium workshop I held over the weekend, watering plants, going ice skating with my
daughter, making bread pudding for a work event called Bakemas, and watching Christmas
movies on the couch with a few strong rum and eggnogs.

Do you have a “green thumb”?
Yes, but I believe everyone does. It’s about how much you want to invest in making your thumb
green, not if you naturally have one. When people say “I kill everything” it’s actually due to a
lack of interest.

Any plant care tips you can share?

  • Easy on the water, bro! Think of it this way: a person can live close to a week without water, but they’d die if submerged for more than three minutes. Your plants need air too, so don’t
    drown them.
  • Know your space and the light within it… Buy plants to suit that light.
  • Don’t buy a plant without knowing how much light it needs. It’s easier to adjust other conditions, but not as easy to adjust light.
  •  If you name your plants or dress up a dog, it’s time to start thinking about having a kid.

What tops your houseplant wish list?
More space and better light.
By the way, where do you shop for plants?
Sheridan Nurseries, Vallyview Gardens, Kim’s Nature and Plant World.

Favorite hobby: Cooking; Plants
Favorite television show: Currently? Stranger Things
Favorite movie: Cronos
Favorite food: Burrito (Duh, it has all four food groups)
Favorite weekend activity: Chilling with the family
Favorite home decor store: Thrift stores

Thank you so much, Jesse! Follow his Instagram page here if you would like. 

P.S Check out how Jesse builds a terrarium here under 24 seconds (not really though ;)).

P.P.S You can find more of our tastemaker series here, including plant time-lapse master @houseplantjournaland the lovely plant couple @warsawjungle

#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Interview, Plant History, Style Tips

Holiday Train Show at The New York Botanical Garden

December 8, 2017

Last Tuesday we had the honor to attend The New York Botanical Garden’s press preview for their annual Holiday Train Show. It was the perfect activity to do when the freezing temperatures are about to set in, and we’re all struggling to accept the long winter ahead of us.

The Holiday Train Show is an annual winter tradition at the NYBG. As soon as we walked in to the exhibit, we were dazzled by the liveness and intricateness of each famous New York landmark. We later learned that they are all made of natural materials such as bark, twigs, stems, fruit, seeds, and pine cones!

And this year, the 26th year of this beloved tradition, new replicas – Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building, and St. Bartholomew’s Church – joined the original 150 in NYBG’s collection. Being a New Yorker, there was nothing more excited than seeing all the famous landmarks and buildings in miniature sizes.

Insider Tip: You will hear different sound effects when you get closer to the miniatured landmarks. Try it!

Other visitor favorites include the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, and the original Yankee Stadium, all surrounded by large-scale model trains. More than 25 model trains and trolleys hummed along nearly a half mile of tracks! In addition, the new internal lighting schemes added more allure and wonder to the show.

After checking out the Holiday Train Show in its entirety, we wondered off to the Rainforest and Succulent showrooms. The incredible diversity of plants gives you a better understanding of how Mother Nature works.

Insider Tip: You will spot many common houseplants in their native habitats! Here at The Sill, we always say- you will make your plant happiest if you can mimic its native environment.

Here’s a short video for you to preview the show!

 

The Holiday Train Show is now open to the public and runs through Monday, January 15, 2018. For visitor information, visit their website here.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss it!

 

P.S Check out our Orchid show recap from last year here

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Holiday Gifting, Plant History, Style Tips

Behind The Names of Our Planters and Plant Pots

October 27, 2017

Meet the movers and shakers in the botanical and landscape world that our locally-made, designed-in-house, indoor planters and plant pots are named after!

AUGUST

The August planter is named after Augusto Weberbauer (1871-1948), a German botanist and professor that began his career studying Peruvian seagrass. On Weberbauer’s first trip to Peru, he collection over 5,200 seagrass species. He also spent time teaching at Peru’s National University of San Marcos.

The ceramic August planter is locally made in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. The tapered bottom of the pot gives it a classic feel, yet its simplicity makes it quite modern. It comes paired with a matching saucer to catch extra water that escapes its drainage hole.

 

OLMSTED

The Olmsted pot is named after Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), an American landscape architect who is considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. Olmsted is most famous for co-designing Central Park in New York City, along with Calvert Vaux, and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Although deceased, his work continues to influence landscape architecture in the U.S. today! 

The rectangular, ceramic planter was designed in-house and is manufactured locally in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. Because there is no drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, we ship the Olmsted with lava rocks to line the bottom with before potting.

 

CALVERT

The Calvert pot is named after Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), a British-American architect and landscape designer who is best known for co-designing Central Park in New York City along with Frederick Law Olmsted. Together, Vaux and Olmsted also co-designed Prospect Park, Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, and Morningside Park in Manhattan. Unfortunately Vaux met his untimely fate when he drowned in Brooklyn’s Gravesend Bay. 

Similar to the Olmsted in shape, but smaller in scale, this ceramic pot is manufactured locally in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. Because there is no drainage hole at the bottom of the pot, we ship the Calvert with lava rocks to line the bottom with before potting.

 

JULES

The Jules planter is named after Jules Cardot (1860-1934), a French botanist and bryologist who was considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on Antarctica’s mosses during his lifetime. Cardot named about 40 genera and 1,200 species. Unfortunately, his collection of plant specimens was looted and damaged during the first World War. 

The ceramic Jules planter is a petite triangular shape with a matching seamless saucer. It is locally made in New Jersey through the method of slipcast. Its triangular shape lends itself to being grouped together to create a circle or semicircle – but it also looks great solo.

 

EZRA

The Ezra planter is named after Ezra Cornell (1807-1874), the founder of Western Union and Cornell University. A lifelong enthusiast of agriculture, he also served as President of the New York Agriculture Society. Fun fact – it is claimed that Ezra Cornell wrote over 30,000 letters in his lifetime.

The ceramic Ezra pot and saucer are portioned to fit almost any sized sill. The petite pot is perfect for a starter plant, or for propagating a leaf cut from a larger plant. The locally made slipcast pot comes with a matching saucer to catch extra water that escapes its drainage hole.

 

TILLANDZ

The Tillandz stand is named after Elias Tillandz (1640-1693), a Swedish-born doctor and botanist who wrote Finland’s first botanical book: Catalogus Plantarum. As a doctor, Tillandz relied heavily on his extensive knowledge of plants to prepare medicines for his patients. The air plant genus Tillandsia was named after him. 

Locally made in New Jersey, the Tillandz stand is cut by a CNC plasma cutter and then powder coated. It can sit upright on a flat surface, or be attached to a wall for a solo or multi-piece display. It is lightweight enough to adhere with a single Command Strip, or there’s a small hole on the back of each stand that can accommodate a screw. 

 

Shop our locally-made indoor planters and plant pots empty HERE – or potted HERE

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki, @warsawjungle

October 25, 2017

Our newest installment in our Tastemaker series features Poland-based artists and plant lovers – Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki! We came across their Instagram and wanted to know more about their inspiration for incorporating plants into their living space. Check out our Q&A with Beata and Remek below! 

Name(s): Beata Malyska and Remek Zawadzki

Location: Warsaw, Poland

Occupation: Beata is a visual artist, Remek occupies himself with sounds

Favorite Plant: Beata: rose geranium, Remek: mirabelle plum tree

Can you share a little bit of background about yourselves? 

Beata: I work with visual arts such as photography and video. I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Recently in my artistic work I focus on exploring the history of the war that happened in the 90s in the Balkans, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I work in music marketing company.

Remek: I deal with sound, record it, create it, destroy it, transform it. I produce music, record artists, do sound design, mix songs, write songs, score animations, play instruments. Whatever’s needed.

Together we made an exhibition of photography, video and sound (entitled „Nienaturalnie“). We created „Warsaw Sound Postcards“ – a series of ten playable vinyls with field recordings and photos of the places where the sound was recorded. We also made a short film about greenery in Warsaw for Goethe-Institut.

Can you share a little bit about your Instagram feed – @warsawjungle

Warsaw Jungle is a platform of exchanging inspirations which unites enthusiasts of plants, photography and interior design. Most often we upload photographs made in our little one-room apartment, which is quite a challenge for creativity – it’s not easy to make a new picture in the same 24 square metres. We also present photos made in homes of our families, friends, as well as pictures sent to us by Warsaw dwellers. We want to show through our blog that living in city doesn’t mean losing contact with nature.

What’s a secret skill you have? 

Beata: I‘m never fed up with vacuum cleaning.

Remek: My secret skill is keeping secrets.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received? 

Beata: It was my dachshund, Maja. I received her when I was 9 years old, we spent together almost 15 years.

Remek: I’m not really a presents person, I’m happy being absent 😉

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save? 

Beata: I hope it won’t! But if, I’d grab albums with photographs and portable disks (with photographs too). Without photographs, my memory would be lost. If I had more time, I would take plants. Photography and plants are my two loves.

Remek: Can’t decide. It’s everything or nothing, either you have the whole space, or you don’t. It’s the presence that makes the space important. Would be nice to catch a plant or two though, after all they are living organisms.

What’s on your to-do list today? 

Beata: Working, learning Croatian, cooking, preparing photographs and texts for upcoming exhibitions and hyggelig. And of course – vacuuming!

Remek: Buying fruit and vegetables for half of the week, working on songs of some artists, organizing a rehearsal, preparing a sound installation for an upcoming exhibition.

What is your favorite plant and why? 

Beata: I love a lemon scented geranium because of nice smell and good properties it has. I love to take a bath with a geranium oil.

Remek: I prefer the big wild ones, which are defined as trees. Preferably the ones with leaves rather than needles. Oaks are nice. They don’t care, and they won’t be bothered. I like their calmness. Of course the tropical ones are cool because some of them give nice fruit, or have spikes.

Do you have a “green thumb”? 

Beata: In our one-room city-center apartment we really have a tiny jungle. Not all plants accommodated well to that conditions, I had to send some of them to my mum, but overall yes, I do have a green thumb.

Remek: I’m sure I do, I just always forget to use it.

Any plant care tips you can share? 

Beata: First thing – don’t overwater the plants, second – talk to them and tell them compliments when they grow. And take photos of them, plants are living creatures, they grow, develop, you can compare how they do.

Remek: Don’t forget about taking care of the plants if you have any, that’s my tip for beginners.

 

What tops your houseplant wish list? 

Beata: The list is long, and the space in the apartment limited. But in a bigger space, my first choice would be cooking banana. Then I would bake a banana cake!

Remek: A cooking banana would be nice. One step closer to the garden of Eden…

Where do you shop for plants? 

Beata: The nicest way to get something new is to exchange the seedings with friends and family. Also sometimes I’d steal leaves that I’d later plant from for example stairways, or offices. A good place to go and buy plants are the wholesale stores at the outskirts of Warsaw.

Remek: I swear I had no idea that Beata steals plants. I have nothing to do with this!

Favorite hobby

Beata: I had problems with defining what my hobby is (which are visual arts, but this is also my occupation) until I’ve grown serious interest in plants, which are my real hobby.

Remek: If hobby is something that one does in one’s free time than my hobby is doing nothing, but I don’t have time for that.

Favorite food

Beata: Potatoes. Really! And my mum’s cake called karpatka (Polish Carpathian Mountain cream cake).

Remek: Peanut butter. Peanuts. Nuts.

Favorite weekend activity

Beata: Outdoor activities such as nordic walking, swimming in lakes, riding a bike.

Remek: Going deep into the forest. And listening to the frogs when it’s spring.

Thank you so much, Beata and Remek! Follow their Facebook page here if you would like. 

PS: You can find more of our tastemaker series here, including plant time-lapse master @houseplantjournal and plant illustrator @studioplants!

(All photos via Beata and Remek.)

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Behind The Scenes, Plant Care, Plant History

Pumpkin Spice Season

October 23, 2017

It’s officially Pumpkin Spice season! Which makes us curious, if not Starbucks, where did pumpkin spice come from? And what about it makes it so popular? To begin, we have to go back a few thousand years… (pre-Starbucks, that is.

view from above: latte and succulent

view from above: latte and succulent

Pumpkins are within the plant family Cucurbitaceae, and are related to cucumbers, squash, watermelons, cantaloupes, and gourds. The species, Cucurbita pepo, produces the pumpkin. The pumpkin itself is botanically a fruit – not a vegetable – as it comes from a flower, and has seeds. Being native to the New World, pumpkins were first domesticated in Central America about 7,500 years ago. These pumpkins were small, hard, and bitter – dramatically different from the pumpkins of today. They were grown primarily for their flesh, rather than their seeds.

Cucurbita pepo is a vining annual, able to be planted in most parts of the United States after the danger of last frost passes. It will take the whole season to produce pumpkins. It has been a vital part of the Native American planting tradition called “three sisters” – where gourds (pumpkins), corn, and beans are planted together. The corn provides a trellis for the beans, which provide the nitrogen for the corn to use, and the gourds cover the base of the bean and corn plants, and the surrounding area, suppressing any weeds that might try to grow. 

pumpkins galore

pumpkins galore

Like many plants that were domesticated, the wild ancestor of today’s bright orange pumpkin was small and came in different colors. Through selective breeding, the largest and most orange colored ones, and least-bitter ones, were chosen, consumed, and regrown.

After French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding “gros melons.” The name was translated into English as “pompions,” which has since evolved into the modern “pumpkin.” When the European settlers came to America, the native peoples shared with them the pumpkin as a food.  Spices were added to the pumpkins to make them more palatable.

today's traditional pumpkins

today’s traditional pumpkins

Pumpkin spice is actually a spice for pumpkins. In-fact, pumpkin spice contains no pumpkin at all! It is made up of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Merely a flavoring for pumpkin, the spice was marketed in the 1930s as “pumpkin pie spice” by popular spice and seasoning companies like McCormick. It was eventually shortened to simply “pumpkin spice”.  

So does your pumpkin spice latte actually contain any pumpkin? A little pumpkin puree, maybe.

 

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, How-to, Style Tips

Halloween Costume Inspiration

October 18, 2017

Can you believe it’s mid-October already? We barely can! With Halloween less than two weeks away, we decided to round up a few of our favorite costume ideas from around the web. The only requirements? They have to be budget-friendly, plant-themed, and easy to DIY!

Our favorite is this classic Cactus Costume by Studio DIY. All you need is a green dress, some yarn, and a glue gun (or thread & needle). If it’s a bit chilly on come October 31st – simply add green leggings, or swap the form-fitting dress for an oversized hoodie and comfy sweats!

Dressing up with a buddy? Equally as charming is Studio DIY’s Pineapple Costume! Did you know the pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a bromeliad from the family Bromeliaceae? That’s the same family as air plants (Tillandsia). It is the only bromeliad that is a commercially important food crop. Most other bromeliads are grown simply for their good looks!

Have a little more time on your hands? The Houseplant Costume by Oh Happy Day below is slightly more involved then the two above… but oh so impressive! Added bonus – keep your candy away from greedy hands by adding a hidden pouch inside your burlap basket!

We’re thinking those crepe paper fronds (looks almost like a bird’s nest fern to us!) could be swapped for construction paper, whose sturdier shape would lend itself to some awesome oversized Monstera deliciosa leaves! Or opt for the real thing.

Looking for a creative costume with a bit more room to move around? This Potted Plant Hat by the super duper crafty blog The House That Lars Built is for you. The plant itself is made entirely of paper, making it incredibly light-weight (and removable if your plans change). If you’re not that crafty – opt for using fake foliage from your local craft store instead.

Also deserving of a mention is The House That Lars Built’s Bouquet Costume below. This doesn’t look like the easiest thing to move around in… but if you plan to spend Halloween night relaxing on your couch like I do, it’s absolutely perfect.

And if you are the kind of person that likes to subject your pets to costumes (isn’t that the whole point of having one?) – may we present, the Chia Pet:

Adorable mug not included.

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