With The Fresh Flower Company in East Dulwich and the new Forest in Deptford embracing the house plant trend, terrariums and all, The Resident asks how house plants got so trendy…
Words: Karen Jensen-Jones
It’s always a delight to walk past The Fresh Flower Company in East Dulwich and catch a glimpse of their scented hand-tied posies, big aluminium tubs full of unusual foliage and branches heavy with seasonal blossom and berries.
Even better if you’re popping in to buy some – although, these days, it might just be a spider plant or swiss cheese plant that takes your fancy. When Fran Bailey set up her flower company ten years ago, she never expected to find herself a leader in the trend for all things green.
This month her new outpost Forest in Deptford is set to open for business in time for summer, selling houseplants, homeware and natural bath and body products such as Aesop and L:A Bruket – allowing you to create your very own urban jungle or woodland at home.
‘I’m really surprised at how popular houseplants have become, but clearly the way we live today has had a huge impact in driving the trend,’ explains Bailey. ‘Smaller houses, little or no gardens and the rise of renting in London has encouraged environmentally conscious people to bring the outdoors in. I think we have a real desire to embrace nature and bring greenery into our homes, and once you start, it’s difficult to stop.’
With Instagram helping to reinforce this unexpected throwback to the 70s and early 80s, house plant styling has become the hipsters favourite pastime of choice. ‘Houseplants went out of fashion for many years, and everybody wanted cut flowers in their homes. How times have changed!’
I’m really surprised at how popular houseplants have become, but clearly the way we live today has had a huge impact in driving the trend
Bailey is particularly excited to expand to SE8. ‘I’d been looking for another site for a while where I could create a large teaching workshop, and I discovered the old railway arches in Deptford. It’s such a vibrant location and conservation area with a busy high street and market. As well as selling houseplants and homeware, we’ll be teaching floristry and plant workshops, and inviting crafters and makers to come in and use the space. We’d like it to become a community hub.’
Bailey is keen to point out the health benefits of houseplants, and sees our love of greenery as much more than a passing fad. ‘Houseplants counter pollution by filtering it into oxygen and they encourage much cleaner air in the home. People mistakenly think that pollution is mostly caused outside the home through traffic, but actually there is more inside the home through things such as formaldehyde in carpets and soft furnishings.
Children with allergies and asthma can really benefit from cleaner air and a few plants can actually make quite a difference. Mother-in-law’s tongue is one of the best air purifiers along with Spider plants, aloe vera and dracena. Two or three plants work really hard to clean your air and they look good. The iconic Swiss Cheese plant, as favoured by Henri Matisse in his paintings and cut outs, is another stylish choice.’
With her horticultural heritage dating back to her Dutch father who owned a nursery, and her own studies at horticultural college, Bailey’s comprehensive knowledge of plants has become invaluable. ‘People come into the shop asking for all sorts of unusual plants that they’ve seen on Instagram or in a magazine asking us to track them down,’ explains Bailey.
‘I source from the Covent Garden Flower Market and from a Dutch supplier who delivers to me from nurseries in Holland and Denmark. I love the challenge of researching a plant with a strange Latin name and then realising it’s something straight forward like a Money Plant.
‘I’m also delighted that terrariums are in such demand, which I remember from the 1970s,’ she continues. ‘The plants literally look after themselves and create a whole microclimate of their own as well as complementing the room. Hanging globes too create a lovely fresh look in any interior as long as there’s a bit of humidity and light.’
With the botanical theme such a firm favourite in the world of interiors – as this very magazine highlighted in the last issue – it seems there’s no limit to bringing nature indoors, whatever the space. Wallpaper, fabrics, crockery and natural body and beauty products are all adding to the overall experience of a more natural and conscientious environment. And far from being a trend, it looks like it’s here to stay.
The Fresh Flower Company, 39a North Cross Road SE22 9ET; 020 8693 6088; freshflower.co.uk