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#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, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview, Plants on TV

Liz Kirby, Host and Author, The Indoor Garden

November 8, 2017

For our latest tastemaker series, we are so honor to introduce you to Liz Kirby. We were first introduced to her by a fellow workshop attendant, we were soon hooked on Liz’s genuine personality and informative plant care tips on her Youtube channels. Liz was in the plant world before the #urbanjubgle was even a thing. She is the plant lady you definitely don’t want to miss out! 

Meet Liz

 Name:  Liz Kirby

Location:  Arlington, VA

Occupation:  Realtor, Host of “The Indoor Garden” TV series and Author of the corresponding blog

Favorite Plant:  I have such a great appreciation, in general, for all plants that I just can’t say that I have a favorite. I have favored Aralias and orchids for my home.                                         

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?   Like many eighteen-year-olds,   I did not know what I would want to study in college. Fortunately, after I graduated from high school, a friend of mine who sold wholesale plants from Florida had the thought that I might enjoy a job in a plant store and he found one for me.  So I did that instead of getting a college degree. I truly enjoyed working there with great people who taught me a lot about indoor plants. I ended up working in the horticulture and floriculture field for twenty-five years.

For those who haven’t watched The Indoor Garden on YouTube, can you share a little bit about the series?  The idea was conceived around 1988. For a long time, I felt that the general public did not get very good specific instructions on growing houseplants. There were some books but  sometimes they just got vague or even wrong instructions. Lots of good experience and a few good  books were my best teacher.  I met many customers who truly believed they could not grow plants and I was sure they could. I thought doing a television series on the care and appreciation of indoor plants would be a great way to share what I had learned. It aired for three years on a local PBS station. When YouTube came along I saw the opportunity to share plant care all over again. The show was videotaped but translates pretty well to a digital format.

What’s a secret skill you have?   I don’t think I have any that I would keep a secret. One skill I have and wish I used more, is that I can very easily come up with a harmony to many songs. It’s one skill I couldn’t teach, it just comes naturally.

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

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

What’s on your to-do list today?   Some housekeeping, getting the hummingbird feeder out, finding a rental apartment for a lovely woman from New Jersey and to catch up on correspondence

What is your favorite plant and why?  It’s difficult to pinpoint one but since I began learning about them, I’ve thought that ferns were amazing. They make you think. As best we know, they have lived on the earth longer than just about any other group of plants. You can find them all over the world. They appear somewhat delicate and fragile, but are they?

Do you have a “green thumb”?  I do now. I had to cultivate it, so that enabled me to encourage others that they could too. I heard many times from others that they did not have a ‘green thumb” and I just don’t accept that. I truly believe anyone who wants to, can develop that skill.

Any plant care tips you can share?  Watering plants once a week is not a good rule of thumb. It’s usually best to start out with hardier varieties if you are just beginning to learn how to grow plants. Get good instructions and look for an expert if your plant is not doing well. Most plants will recover and thrive with the right instructions.  

What tops your houseplant wish list?  If I had the space, I would love a cymbidium orchid.

How did The Indoor Garden television series start?   I befriended a television producer who had a local TV series airing in the area. I had the thought that a television series could be a great way to teach what I had learned about indoor plants, so I started looking into how to make that possible.

Do you have a favorite episode or show memory?  I especially enjoyed having guests on the show. It was quite easy to work with them.

Do you think there’s been a resurgence interest of houseplants recently?  It seems to be going that way. There are many different types of retail outlets and online places that have been selling plants for a long time. I do believe they’d stop if interest was low.

Any words of advice for plant novices?   Don’t give up if you aren’t very successful at first. There are many easy-to-grow plants and you may want to buy your first plants at a plant store, garden center or nursery where someone should be informed enough to help you choose a plant that suits you. For example, a busy person may want a large plant that doesn’t need water often. Make sure your plants are placed in the best light situation for your particular plant. Find out how to water them properly.  Those two aspects of care, light and correct watering, are most important to success.

Thank you so much, Liz!

PS: Check out more of our tastemakers series here 

 

 

 

#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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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview

Jeannie Phan, Illustrator, Freelance

October 13, 2017

Meet Jeannie Phan, an editorial illustrator residing in Toronto, Canada, with her furry best friend, Odin. Jeannie immediately captured our hearts with her picture-worthy and plant-filled apartment when we stumbled upon her on Instagram. Then we realized that she is also an amazing illustrator with a cult following. Swoon. 

Headshot by Dawn Kim

Name: Jeannie Phan
Location: Toronto, Canada
Occupation: Freelance Illustrator
Favorite Plant: Strelitzia nicolai (Giant White Bird of Paradise)

Can you share a little bit of background about yourself?
I’m above all, an artist, which explains why I can’t help but keep my hands moving and picking up things like plant care, home organization (or really, just the obsessive re-arranging of bric-a-brac) and DIY projects. If you’re into the Meyers-Briggers personality typing, I’m an INTJ, but far from a mathematician.
Originally, I’m from a small city in the prairies of Canada (Winnipeg), born from immigrant parents who brought us up on resourcefulness and appreciation of the outdoors. Although, I’d say I’m a definite late-bloomer in the latter, to the surprise of many! Currently, I hang out in the bustling city of Toronto with my feline best friend, Odin, and an uber supportive life partner. I work, live and grow in a home
studio.

Can you share a little bit about your art?
Sure, my art has developed from being highly ornate to now a body of work that appreciates the simpler forms of people, objects, and places. Hilariously, unlike my personal life, which is buttered in neutrals, my art is colourful, bathed in saturated primaries and overlayed with the colours inbetween. I’m an optimistic person with a dark sense of humour and I like to think my work radiates some of that, particularly with my personal series. To get to the nitty gritty, I’m primarily an editorial illustrator that draws for publications globally. But I also do work in advertising and have a few influencer
campaigns under my belt (I love social media!).

What’s a secret skill you have?
I have an incredible ability to forget birthdays.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received?
You know, I have to say when my friend Justine (@patternsandportraits) gifted me with my very first plants, which were two succulents I couldn’t even tell you the name of. I killed one overnight by suffocating it bare-root in a bag (yup…) and the other rotted. I give huge thanks to Justine and my other friend Elaine for really planting the seed with this whole plant obsession. If it wasn’t for that gift and a huge stubbornness to redeem myself, I probably wouldn’t be as big of a plant nerd. Thanks Justine!

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save?
My cat Odin, of course!! I have a thing where I don’t put a lot of value in physical objects so everything can burn, and so long as my loved ones are safe, that’s all I need. But alright, if I had to pick something physical, I’d grab my hard drive because it’s the lifeline to my work and an archive of a lot of priceless photos.

What’s on your to-do list today?
Work out. I’ve been really into fitness this year (after years of failed attempts) and valuing self care. Not only is being a freelance illustrator mentally straining, but it physically chips away at your body from hours of drawing at a table. So every day I’ll either go for a walk, jog, or pump some iron.

What is your favorite plant and why?
Strelitzia nicolai (Giant White Bird of Paradise) because it’s one of my oldest surviving tropicals. It was with me when I was a budding plant enthusiast not knowing what it wanted and stuck by when I became better versed with plants. Thankfully, like a trooper, it survived our move and grows bigger (it’s over 6ft tall!) and even prouder. The giant paddles for foliage strelitzia have are no short of majestic. It transcends me into a different world and I’ll often just sit and stare at it while having my morning coffee.
Do you have a “green thumb”? Not naturally, no. People are always surprised when I say I’m a former plant murderer because my mom had a beautiful garden, and I show my love for plants like we’ve been best friends since grade school. But, it just goes to show that anyone can learn the language of plants and appreciate nature, even if it’s not woven within their DNA.

Any plant care tips you can share?
Shower your plants one a month. Much less often for dessert plants of course, but your tropicals, like your garden plants, appreciate some “rain” even if it’s not actually from the outdoors. It helps clear dust, flush out the soil, and keeps pests at bay. Good circulation and adequate light is key afterwards though! To properly dry out the soil.

What tops your houseplant wish list?
I’d love a variegated monstera deliciosa but I’m much more of a plant opportunist, so I gather plants I like when I see them and seldom “hunt” for them. I have enough plants as is!

When did you start illustrating?
I started freelance illustrating full-time in 2013 but I was drawing since I was a kid. I went to art school at OCAD University here in Toronto, and graduated in 2012 with a bachelors. After working at a concept shop/gallery on Queen West or about a year, I decided to dive into freelancing full-time. I started off doing layout design as a graphic designer, but lost interest in it so I finally pushed to just do art 100% of the time. And here I am today!

Do you have a favorite illustration or project?
Recently, it’s the Acqua di Parma influencer campaign I did where I visualized all the scents in their Blu Mediterraneo collection. This collection was inspired by natural botanical ingredients and I just couldn’t imagine a more perfect project to mesh my love of plants and art. You’ll see the sketches for this project pinned on my wall as a momento. They were also kind enough to send me all the perfumes, so you can catch me swimming in the scent of citrus fruit or figs almost everyday.

What inspires you?
Nature, long conversations with friends, my cat.

Any words of advice for those looking to do their passion full-time?
No risk, no reward. You can be strategic in finding a way to freelance full-time but don’t lay plans that are too concrete (because this is a profession that’s fluid) and don’t let it paralyze you. Sometimes, jumping in and learning to swim is the best way. One thing I also really want to stress is, when your passion becomes your job, the dynamics of this relationship shifts. I have classmates from art school that realize that they don’t actually want a career that involves drawing 24/7. They want to be strategic thinkers, or creative in another way. Look at the core ability of what you’re passionate about and be open minded in what skills that can be applied to and maybe that’s a 9-5 job, maybe not. Disregard the topical idealism certain freelance professions have because that shiny coating wears out quickly after a few years.

Thank you so much, Jeannie! Following Jeannie on Instagram: @jeanniephan and @studioplants

P.S. More women share their plant passion, including an artist and a jewelry designer

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, How-to, Interview, Plant Care

Creating an Herb Garden in Your Kitchen – by Katie Kuchta

October 4, 2017

We’re thrilled to feature a guest post by our friend, Katie Kuchta, on creating an herb garden right in your own kitchen.  Katie came to appreciate nature’s beauty through her plein air painting and finds passion in designing gardens and outdoor living spaces. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing Tai Chi on a nearby beach and taking meditative walks through forests. 

Photo via online

Transitioning into the fall weather has its ups and downs. Frequenting lawn care on the weekends to prepare for a lush yard in the springtime and the dwindling sadness of cleaning out your garden bed. Gardening doesn’t have to end there!

You can do one of two things or both– utilize your freshly cleaned out garden bed for quick growing vegetables or bring the gardening indoors. Lettuce is easy to grow and with some varieties can keep the cold where the winters are mild. If you prefer to bring the garden indoors instead of bearing the chill to exercise your green-thumb, try growing something similar and rewarding like fresh herbs.

Fresh herbs will add zest to the most ordinary of meals. Dried herbs are good enough, but there is no comparison to the vibrant scent and flavor of fresh herbs. Besides, when have you ever been satisfied with “good enough” in your culinary artistry?

There are no fresher herbs than those that you grow at home, let alone in your own kitchen. Not only is it easy to establish and maintain your indoor herb garden, but it’s also an extremely satisfying way of exercising your green thumb year-round. Here are some tips on bringing the outside in by creating an herb garden right in your kitchen!

Let there be light

Photo via online

Of course you want your herb garden in the kitchen where you can reach over and snip the fresh herbs as you cook, but if there is not enough light in the kitchen, an herb garden in any other room works just as well.

Herbs need as much natural light as possible—at least four to five hours of sun a day. Four seasons rooms and rooms with a skylight or larger windows work best. Windows with south or southwest sunlight exposure is ideal, but windows facing the east or west work fine as well.

None of those in your home? Purchase grow lights and position them so that they light the area over your herbs for four to six hours a day. No matter how your herbs receive light, remember to turn them regularly for even exposure and growth.

Keep the herbs comfy

Photo via online

Indoor herbs prefer the same temperatures that most people do— around 65 to 70 degrees F. If you’re comfortable, they probably are too. At night, the temperature near a window may drop to 55 or 60, most herbs are okay with that, just don’t let foliage touch the cold glass. It will turn brown and the plant can die from thermal shock.

Herbs find it difficult to deal with dry air, whether it’s from air conditioning or heating. They’ll appreciate a weekly shower with lukewarm water. Put the pots in the sink, spray them gently but thoroughly and let them drip dry.

Pot and Plant

Photo credit: dogeared (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Now that you’ve found the right spot, select the pots. You may automatically head for clay pots, but they dry out quickly, a real problem in dry climates or when the heater is on in the winter. Stick with glazed or plastic pots. They are better for your herbs, in particular– the glazed pots are so beautifully made that they add another dimension to your home’s décor. Be sure that the pots have drainage holes.

Use a fast-draining potting mix with perlite or vermiculite rather than garden soil to keep the soil loose and aerated. You will need good drainage and protection for your window sill or table top. Place the potted plants on a saucer, liner, or drain pan to catch the drainage.

Photo credit: online

Herbs to start with
When taking care of herbs indoors, it’s best to start with established plants rather than seeds. You’ll have herbs months sooner.

  • Basil: “Genovese” for classic aroma and flavor or “Siam Queen” for a more exotic spicy flavor.
  • Chervil: Also known as French parsley, with delicate overtones of anise.
  • Chives: “Grolau” has a delicate onion flavor and loves growing by a window.
  • Cilantro: Also known as Chinese parsley, with a distinctive flavorful blend of parsley, sage, and citrus.
  • Dill: Grows best indoors. “Fernleaf” dill is an ideal compact variety.
  • Marjoram: This Mediterranean native is related to oregano, but the flavor is sweeter and more delicate.
  • Mint: Peppermint, spearmint or “English” mint—all are good choices. Each needs its own pot. They can get aggressive with other herbs.

Once your herbs are planted, they aren’t particularly demanding. The most important thing to do is to snip or prune back your herbs, once a week on average. Keeping them pruned will make them sturdier and more productive.

Thanks for the tips, Katie! Now you can exercise your green-thumb in the cooler months and enjoy your own farm-to-table herbs year-round. How amazing is that? Do you have any tips when it comes to growing herbs indoors? Comment below! 

P.S Check out more plant care tips and tricks HERE

 

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview

Stressed? Plants are The Answer – by Carrie Ingoglia

September 28, 2017

We are thrilled to feature a guest post by Carrie Ingoglia on why incorporating plants and meditation into your life is important.

If you’ve been feeling any stress lately, you’re not alone. There’s a lot going on in the world of ours.

Maybe you’re constantly running through your to-do list. You feel impatient or frustrated. You have trouble sleeping or digesting. Or maybe you get stuck endlessly scrolling through your social feeds (This morning I went to look up the weather, and 20 minutes went by while I checked Twitter and Instagram. Meanwhile, I totally forgot to look at the weather.)

No matter how stress manifests for you, nature offers a biological antidote that we often forget.

We’re built to respond to the seasons and the natural environment —being close to nature helps us go with the flow. But because our daily lives are often so far removed from the natural world, it’s easy to feel disconnected. Luckily, you don’t have to immerse yourself in bioluminescent pools or spend hours forest bathing to get the positive effects of nature.

WHAT DOES STRESS DO?

When we are stressed, our bodies react by turning on our “fight or flight” response. This is a chemical response that makes our hearts beat faster, our breathing get faster and more shallow, and our digestion slow, redirecting energy to the big muscles of the body so we can run away or stand our ground against the tiger that’s chasing us through the forest.

The problem is, our body doesn’t know the difference between a very real threat from an animal of prey and a message on social media that makes us angry or defensive. It reacts with the same stress response to a tiger or a tweet. And being in a constant state of fight or flight is exhausting and can lead to all sorts of ailments big and small.

JUST BREATHE

The good news is, the stress response has a built-in counter balance. We can reverse the whole thing, and we can do it just by breathing. Becoming aware of your breath has a way of getting us out of our heads and into our bodies. Deep breathing is known to slow the heart rate and helps bring us down from fight or flight.

Our breath and our bodies are our instant connection back to the present moment. By paying attention to that, we can more easily come back down to earth — no matter where we are.

HERE’S WHERE THE PLANTS COME IN

Adding natural elements to our daily lives can help us feel more connected and less stressed out.

It’s no surprise that a hike helps calm us down. Or that gardening can be used as a kind of meditation. In fact, according to Psychology Today, several scientific studies have shown the presence of houseplants has been found to be lower blood pressure, increase focus, and lower anxiety in schools, at work, and even in hospitals. (Learn more about the benefits of indoor plants here.) 

Plants help keep us grounded when we’re all up in our heads.

THREE WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS:
  • Take three deep breaths.

This one is easy and you can do it anywhere. But it may take some practice. Wherever you are, pause. Sit or stand with your feet planted on the ground and let your spine be long. Breathe in through your nose to the count of three. Then breathe out through your nose to the count of five. Do this three or more times and see how you feel.

  • Go for a walk outside.

Even if you’re not in the woods or on the beach, just being outside can help make us feel more connected. If you’re at work, try going for a walk around the block without your phone. Stand on the corner waiting for the bus without checking your email. Spot a little dandelion sprouting through the cracks in the sidewalk. Just be outside.

  • Do a guided plant meditation.

Spend some quality time with whatever plants you have around you, whether it’s a big Fiddle Leaf Fig or a tiny succulent. Luckily, you’ve got a guided meditation right here to help start you on you’re way.

 

Thank you so much, Carrie! Have you ever meditated (and do you have plants around you when you do it)? What else would you add? 

PS Carrie is a yoga teacher and the writer + producer of the podcast, Yoga For the Revolution

PPS Find our plant picks that will purify air while you meditate HERE!

 

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#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Interview, Plant History

Travel Within Your Home With These 7 Houseplants

August 17, 2017

Why settle for a souvenir when you could have a living memento of your travels?

Plants bring colors to life, they grow with your care, they originate from fascinating places…

We teamed up with HomeToGo to suggest 7 unique houseplants you can use to create vacation vibes in your home. From the tropical Myanmar jungle to the refreshingly high altitude of the Himalayas, these plants will make your home a travel expedition!

P.S. Find HomeToGo’s interview with our plant expert extraordinaire Christopher Satch HERE.

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#PlantPorn, #PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Houseplant Tastemakers, How-to, Interview

Having Pets AND Plants

June 22, 2017

We interviewed a few of our team members that are parents to both pets *and* plants for their top tips about keeping the peace in a jungle-like apartment… 

FullSizeRender

Above is Tweeks, one of our Marketing Director Erin’s cats, sharing her favorite sill with a few potted plants! 

MEET ANGELA, PLANT SPECIALIST

NAME: Angela Muriel

PETS: I have 5 cats living in my apartment. I got involved doing some TNR (trap, neuter, return) volunteer work in my Crown Heights neighborhood and in the process found an abandoned litter of kittens. I was able to get a few adopted but a couple still remain in my care so they are now a part of my crew.

Cisco _ Helios (Angela)

PLANTS: I currently have a Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata), a Grape Ivy (Cissus rhombifolia) and several terrariums. I always keep a flat of grass for all the kitties to enjoy and to provide them with some nature.

TIPS: Cats will find their way into just about anything and are incredible climbers. My large plants are in hanging baskets out of their reach and of course the terrariums are enclosed in glass so they can’t get to those (ha ha!). I am able to enjoy a huge variety of plants in the terrariums, as well as create a whole environment in miniature form.

Sally on grass (Angela)

I have reviewed many poisonous plant lists and quite frankly if one were to adhere closely to them your choices would be really limited (find all our non-toxic plants here). One thing to keep in mind is that with many plants the animal would have to ingest a substantial amount to become ill. It is most important to observe the behaviour of your pet in regards to your plants. Many pets will simply ignore the greenery, where as others may be attracted to certain leaves or growth habits. That said, there are certain plants that can be fatal if eaten i.e. Sago Palm (not a “true palm” but a Cycad which are a primitive group), some plants from the Euphorbia family which produce a milky sap when cut, a few Aroids especially the Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia) and any bulb plants such as Lilies, Hyacinth, Daffodil, Amaryllis, etc.

Never assume that an animal will instinctively “know” which plant is “good” or “bad” and this isn’t any measure of their intelligence. Our pets are domesticated animals and so much of nature is just not in their realm of experience. A good pet owner will just have to practice keen observation.

 

MEET PEGGY, SHOP MANAGER

NAME: Peggy Lu

PETS: I have a 2-year-old French Bulldog, Olivia, and a 10-month-old cat, Mia, who my husband rescued off the street.

Peggy's dog-2

PLANTS: I cohabit with probably 40ish plants now. Most of them are air-purifying plants – Fern, Snake plant, ZZ plant, Pothos, Ivy, Philodendron, Spider plant, terrarium plants, and many cacti and succulents – that I bought since I started working at The Sill. Yes, I am that girl who wants to put her plants to work: providing fresh oxygen.

Peggy's cat-2

TIPS: My dog, Olivia, could not care less about plants, the one I had trouble with was my kitty, Mia. She is only a baby – she has so much energy in her. She bites and swaps my plants ALL THE TIME. It used to bother me a lot; however, I realized she only does it out of boredom or when she is in a playful mood. I’ve learned some tips that hopefully will help your pet and your plants live in harmony:

1. Buy cat grass. Bonus: you’ve got another plant!
2. Don’t discipline your pet when they’ve chew/attacked you plants. Especially cats will react to negative and positive reinforcement the same. Trust me, they will do it while you sleep. I pretend to not see it while Mia is at it now, and quietly clean up after her while she is not looking.
3. Try a citrus spray! Dogs and cats do not like anything that is in citrus family. Bonus: your home will not only will look nice with plants, but it will smell amazing too!
4. Play with them! Enjoy one-on-one time and tire them out. A happy and tired dog/cat will leave things alone.
5. Live with it. I’ve learned to live with imperfect foliages. Overall, It is your pet’s home too!
6. Do your research before buying a plant – both for the health of the plant and your lovely companions at home.

Peggy's cat-1

 

MEET CATHERINE, OPERATIONS + PLANT SPECIALIST

NAME: Catherine Cummings

PETS: I recently adopted a kitten from the Somerset County Shelter in NJ to grow my little family! Her name’s Lana after the character on Archer. She’s non-stop energy and endlessly curious.

PLANTS: My house is filled with plants of all kinds, including hanging pothos and philodendrons, cacti, succulents, ferns, etc. I’ve completely lost track of how many I have at this point, but they cover every available surface…

TIPS: I keep most plants up out of her reach on shelves mounted on the walls. The plants that take over the windows I always make sure are safe for pets, such as haworthia succulents and bromeliads. She’s never shown any interest in chewing any of them – and I make sure she has plenty to keep her busy while I’m gone by leaving out boxes and new things for her to explore. Luckily she’s more interested in trying to catch my fish than chewing on the plants!

 

MEET SARINA, PLANT MAINTENANCE

NAME: Sarina Perez

PETS: My chubster, Gideon. I adopted him after a former roommate found a box of kittens in the dumpster three years ago. Back home, we have a dog named Cash who lives in my mom’s country garden on the outskirts of San Antonio.

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PLANTS: I have around 30 houseplants, but unfortunately only one window in my LES apartment’s living room. My bedroom is actually subterranean. Thankfully through my time working at The Sill I’ve found there are so many types of plants that can tolerate moderate to low-light situations. I have a lot of philodendron and pothos variations, snake plants, a few broadleaf ferns, and palms.

Being a Texas native – I really miss all the cacti that line the streets, so I cram what I can into the biggest spots on my window. I love large plants, so I have a nice big rubber tree (Ficus elastica), Philodendron vellum, and Monstera deliciosa right by the window. My mom has everything from a prickly pear cactus over 7ft tall, to ivy, to begonias, to elephant ears, to palm trees. Cash pulls some weeds every now and then – but he also loves to nap amongst them.

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TIPS: Gideon loves hiding behind the large ones and jumping out to scare me. Also has been known to nap under the wide leaves of my monstera, which I totally understand. Sometimes when he is mad at me though he will dig the soil of the larger plants. I’ve found that if I put a few large rocks on top of the soil, he won’t do it again. If you’re thinking about getting a cat – I would keep small plants off the edges of your shelves and tables, since they’re bound to knock a few over. If you notice your pet going around a certain plant, try surrounding it with a few potted cacti…

 

MEET JENNA, SHOPKEEPER + PLANT MAINTENANCE

NAME: Jenna Kohl

PETS: I have two Siberian cats named Munch and Finn. I adopted them from the Meow Parlour a few blocks away from The Sill shop. My boyfriend named them after detectives on Law and Order SVU.

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PLANTS: I have over one hundred plants the last time I counted; they are everywhere. Luckily, my apartment has space to fill, so it doesn’t look overwhelming – i.e., there is still room for more plants. I have snakes and aglaonema in a hall with low light. Then scattered everywhere else are monstera, ponytail palm, pilea peperomioides, calathea, aralia, a lot of pothos and philodendron, fiddle leaf fig tree, peperomia, fern, and the list goes on.

TIPS: If you’ve got a furry nibbler like mine are, the ASPCA has lists of toxic plants that are worth looking at, and The Sill has a special pet-friendly, i.e. non-toxic, collection page. All my toxic plants live either on high shelves, kitchen cabinets, plant stands, or a wardrobe. My cats aren’t great jumpers so they don’t even attempt to get them. The accessible plants are all pet friendly; if they chew on one I don’t have to worry. I also deter them with wheatgrass which is good for their digestion.

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MEET RACHEL, DESIGNER + ACCOUNT MANAGER

NAME: Rachel Lyons

PETS: Peloton Seelyons

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PLANTS: My Brooklyn apartment houses a few Monstera deliciosa, Pothos, Bird of Paradise, Agave, Schefflera, Prickly Pear Cactus, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Calathea, Xerographica, Boston Fern, Orchids, Snake Plants, Jade, and much much more…

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TIPS: My 1.5 year old barn kitty rescue rarely tries to eat any of the plants. He was raised with them from a tiny kitten, so for Pelo it’s more about using the greenery to get my attention – by rustling leaves, teetering terra cotta, or snapping branches in the early morning hours to say ‘feed me now’. Sometimes he’ll chew my aloe, which is toxic, but he never swallows it or shows signs of distress. Don’t let feline friends ruin the bliss of having houseplant friends. Put up shelving, get creative and wall-mount your greens. Or have one sacrificial non-toxic plant that takes the pouncing each day so that the others can flourish safely.

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MEET ROBYN, DESIGNER + ACCOUNT MANAGER

NAME: Robyn Moore

PETS: My dog Disco!

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PLANTS: Succulents, Cacti, a Snake Plant, an Avocado Tree (yes…!), an Aglaonema, and assorted Ferns

TIPS: I keep all my plans up high (countertops, planter stands, shelves, etc.) so Disco is less likely to be distracted by them. I have friends who have had issues with their dogs eating more toxic items – like bad foods, or garbage – but plants have never been an issue. Dogs are smarter than cats (sorry…) and will leave it alone once they realize it doesn’t taste good or make them feel good! It’s important to pay attention to your dog’s behavior. Most often, the warning signs of consumption are clear and rarely fatal. But it’s always best to just avoid any occurrence – if your dog is prone to chewing, stay away from plants with a latex-like sap (pencil cactus, rubber plant, ZZ).

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P.S. Shop our team’s favorite pet-friendly houseplants.

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Behind The Scenes, Interview, Plant Care, Plant History

Interview: Lena Struwe

June 14, 2017

Dr. Lena Struwe (Credit: Susanne Ruemmele)

We interviewed Dr. Lena Struwe, an accomplished professor at Rutgers University, as well as the Director of the Chrysler Herbarium at Rutgers University, a leading herbarium in the world for the preservation of important plant taxa samples and records!

Dr. Struwe is the mentor of our resident Plant Scientist here at The Sill, Christopher Satch. Her research involves the order, Gentianlaes, which encompases a few plant families that are extremely economically important – including Rubiaceae (the coffee family), Gentianaceae (the gentian family), Apocynaceae (the dogbane family), and more. These plant families contain countless plants that we use on a daily basis – oleander, coffee, and periwinkle, just to name a few. With this in mind, we asked what she could share with us about what plants have taught her…

Gentiana verna CC BY-SA 3.0, Michael Gasperl (Migas)

What inspired you to choose Gentians to study?

When I started out in grad school my advisor had a grant to work on this group of plants, so I actually didn’t choose gentians. But I quickly fell in love with this family and have worked on them for over 25 years now.

What about Gentians makes them special?

They have a long history of being used by humans as medicinal plants around the world, and they also are incredibly gorgeous. Their flowers come in all colors, even black, and there are gentians on every continent and in every kind of habitat (except on top of glaciers and in the driest deserts).

Are there any easy ways to grow Gentians?

No, gentians are generally rather hard to grow. Some are suitable for rock gardens, but most live in symbioses with fungi and are very specific of what kind of soils they want. Some species in the Gentiana genus are probably the easiest for people in the temperate zones.

Are there any indoor Gentians for the houseplant lover?

Prairie gentians (Eustoma) are sometimes sold as a potted plant, but this species is not long-lived and they often get root rot. The same species is often found at florists as well and is a beloved cut flower.  Gentians are best grown outdoors. 

Eustoma grandiflorum Andrew Dunn, CC BY-SA 2.0

What inspired you to do taxonomy studies?

I have always loved plants, since I was very young. In third grade our teacher made us do a class herbarium and an inventory of a little forest plot, and I loved to explore and figure out what was growing and flowering there. I come from an outdoorsy family that sailed, canoed, hiked, picked mushrooms, etc., and cool plants are everywhere so it never got boring. When I went to college I had planned to do environmental studies, but ended up in botany classes and with an undergraduate part-time job in the herbarium, and the rest is history. The idea to explore the unknown when it comes to biodiversity, which is really what taxonomy is about, is something that fascinates me every day.

Any cool recent finds or new discoveries in the taxonomic world?

The recent news of a million-years old fossil tomatillo plant is a marvelous find. (Learn more!)

Fossil Tomatillo (Credit: Peter Wilf)

I’ve noticed that a lot of houseplants hail from Araceae family. Is there anything special about that family, to your knowledge, that makes them resilient to indoor conditions?

Many of the indoor Araceae plants grow naturally either as epiphytes (on trees) or on the forest floors in tropical countries. They are used to low light conditions, and sometimes droughts. Even in a rain forest it can be dry, especially if you are an epiphyte with no deep roots in the soil, or no way to catch the water that is falling down. 

Do you have any interesting plants in your home or garden?

In our backyard is a large dawn redwood tree planted by the previous owners. It is a tree that is only found wild in a small area in China, but cultivated across the world. Scientists thought it was extinct since it only was known from fossils, but then it was found in the mid-1900s. There are similar stories of other rediscovered conifers, like ginkgo and the Wollemi pine. This is like finding a living Tyrannosaurus rex somewhere on Earth… 

Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Public Domain)

If there’s one thing you want the world to know about plants, what would that be?

If there weren’t any plants, there wouldn’t be civilization, agriculture, humans, food, spices, log cabins, hamburgers, gardens, or cupcakes. Wherever you are there are plants to explore, and they are a lot easier to look at than birds and mammals because they sit still! 

 

#PlantsMakePeopleHappy, Houseplant Tastemakers, Interview, Plant Care

Yanna Garecka, Jewelry Designer, Squidlicks

June 13, 2017

Meet our June Houseplant Tastemaker – Squidlicks jewelry designer and orchid mom Yanna Garecka! 

NAME: 
Yanna Garecka

LOCATION: 
Northern Virginia

OCCUPATION: Kitchen Manager by night. Graphic Design Student by day. Jewelry Designer in-between.

FAVORITE PLANT: Orchids!

Can you share a little bit about yourself – and your jewelry? Thanks to apples not falling far from trees – my whole life I have been fascinated both by art and nature, specifically geology and botany. I grew up with my plant-hoarding, oil-painting mother constantly reciting names of plant to me as we would pass them by. My fascination with jewelry design began as a therapeutic hobby when I was a struggling in my teenage years, which quickly lead me to selling bright and bold collage necklaces on the beta era of Etsy in 2006. These pieces usually featuring plastic toys such as squids and bugs. Over the years I have experimented with many mediums. Three years ago I feel in love with eco-resin and haven’t stopped since.

What’s a secret skill you have? 
I can make balloon animals.

What’s the best present you’ve given or received? 
My boyfriend made me candles – shaped and carved like the stones from the 5th Element (we are sci-fi nerds, one of our favorite movies). Everyone who recognizes them in our home gets very excited.

If your space was on fire, what’s the first thing you’d grab to save? 
I would grab my cats of course! Boo and Grey – jewelry is replaceable, they aren’t!

What’s on your to-do list today? Catching up on social media posts today. Tend to my cats, plants, and then go into my night job, which is running a kitchen in music venue.

What is your favorite plant and why? 
Orchids! All my life I have struggled to keep them alive and I have finally cracked the code.

Do you have a green thumb? 
Any plant care tips you can share? 
Over all you could say I have a green thumb, honestly it’s all a matter of timing your watering, and not overwatering.

What tops your houseplant wish list? The thing to top my houseplant wish list would be for Grey Kitty to stop chewing and eating all my plants so I don’t have to put them in strange cat inaccessible places. That would be great. 

What or who inspires you? The overall impression of mosses and lichens in resin remind me a lot of natural resin – amber. My family is Polish, and one thing Polish people like as much as potatoes and pickles is beautiful glowing amber. More then anything though, I love the color green. I love forests carpeted with moss and rocks living with lichens. I want to capture those elements into a piece of wearable jewelry, just like how people like to keep terrariums in their homes.

Thank you so much, Yanna! Follow Yanna & Squidlicks on Instagram here

(All photos are taken by Yanna.)