At what age do you become an adult and do the historically defined stages of life have any relevance to modern society? Recently I have found myself firmly established in the stage that involves lusting over the pages of ELLE Deco, sourcing vintage furniture on eBay and restoring them with a bit of TLC and a lick of paint. Where conversations with friends now often feature painting walls, new bathrooms, new kitchens and funds are directed into interior flourishes over the newest garms and nightclubs.
Garden appreciation also sits fairly nicely in this stage and whilst I enjoy nothing more than sitting in my parent’s blossoming garden (I think somewhat inspired from a trip to the Chelsea Flower Show), any garden envy is futile as I would not be able to recreate their market town set up eight stories up in SE London.
My interest in bringing the greenery indoors has been further amplified by the beautifully curated posts on the Instagram account of Forest @forest_london, a houseplant and lifestyle store in South East London who specialise in unusual houseplants and succulents.
Forest is the goto place for striking and easy to care for plants, with experts on hand who will teach you how to look after them at home. With stores in East Dulwich and Deptford, they offer a free potting service along with advising clients on what pots will further enhance an interior. Aside from the beautiful plants and flowers, Forest also hold monthly classes teaching flower arranging, terrarium building and wreath making with guest makers and creatives holding classes in macrame, candle making and urban gardening. The company caters for a varied customer base, from young families to students along with older generations with a delivery service that means their delights can be enjoyed nationwide and not us Londoners!
I caught up with Alice Bailey, Co-Founder of Forest, who gave me some sound advice on plants and how to make the most of them within the work space.
What are the best plants for promoting healthy air?
There are quite a few plants that are great for better air quality – Rhipsalis, Aloe Arborescens, Phlebodium, and Ferns included. Our favourite at the moment has to be the Sanseveria. They are extremely efficient at air cleaning but are also very easy to look after, tolerating all different household conditions. A win win!
What plants would you recommend for an open plan office?
I would recommend leafy and low maintenance jungle plants. Although they need a little more watering than something like a succulent, they can tolerate lower light levels (bright but indirect light) which a succulent can’t. Plants like Monstera make a great statement and fill an empty space well. They are also quite a fast growing plant and although they require weekly watering, can tolerate a bit of neglect. Zamioculcas Zamiifolia (or ZZ plant) are another great option – they also survive in bright but indirect light and have thick stems that carry large amounts of water so you don’t have to water them as often.
Which plants are the most hardy, for those of us that are not blessed with green fingers?
Spider plants are a great one for those who have trouble with indoor plants. Although they like regular watering and misting, they can also tolerate periods of drought as their thick and tubular roots can carry large quantities of water. This makes them ideal for both the overwaterer and underwaterer!
What makes Forest a leader in the plant marketplace?
Fran, who founded the company with her daughters Alice and Maddie, has come from a horticultural background. Her father was a grower and had a plant nursery during her youth so she grew up with a firm knowledge and understanding of plants. Maddie also studied botany with the RHS and has since gone on to specialise in house plants. In our stores we stock unusual and high quality house plants that change with the seasons, and the whole team at Forest takes great pride in using their skills to care for and maintain them so we are passing on the best product we can to our customers.
Have you seen a trend for bringing the outdoors in over recent years and what is the best way to achieve this?
Having plants in the home is a trend that is ever growing. Being around plants has been proven to have a calming effect, and with many people living in apartments that have little to no outdoor space I think the trend was bound to grow stronger. The best way to achieve this for those starting out is to first think about the space you have and where you want to put plants. We wrote a blog post recently on picking the plant that’s right for you which we think is very important for growing your indoor jungle. Staff at any of your local house plant stores will be able to advise which plants will work best in your space and fit with your lifestyle.
Which plants are currently in fashion?
On our online sales platforms we have found Ceropegia Woodii and String of Pearls to be the most popular plants over the past year or so. They both have small and delicate foliage which trails down and is ideal for filling any smaller space with green.
In our shops, we have seen a shift from succulents, cacti and desert plants to leafier jungle plants. Masses of lush green foliage definitely seem to be taking the centre stage! Calathea are also very popular at the moment, with each variety having different but uniquely decorative leaves that almost look hand painted.
Where do you see the market place for plants going?
I think the trend for house plants will continue to grow over the next few years. We are seeing more and more interest in larger hanging plants, so maybe leafier, vine like hanging plants such as cissus rhombifolia will move in on hanging succulents.
I will be further adding to my urban garden throughout the year. Should you be inspired to enhance your own spaces I thoroughly recommend a visit to either of Forest’s shops or for anyone time poor via the website.
Arch 133 Deptford Market Yard,
Rear of 43 Lordship Lane