We’ve all become mildly obsessed with filling our homes to the rafters with luscious green-stock. Our insta feeds have become saturated with lust-worthy bedrooms resembling mini jungles. The hippest new events, restaurants, and workspaces are draped and dangling in leafy fronds and oversized tropical fauna – see Palm Vaults, Benk&Bo, and The Clapton Tram. These indoor gardens are undeniably pleasing on the eye, and ultimately very good for our health.
A 1989 NASA study suggested houseplants and their root systems, soil and bacteria absorb indoor pollutants like benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde that are beneficial to our health.
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The power of nature has been discussed and debated through the ages. The NRPA, dedicated to making recreative spaces accessible to all communities have carried out in-depth research around the power of plants.
‘Access to nature, whether it is in the form of bona fide natural areas or in bits or views of nature, impacts psychological, as well as social functioning. Greater access to green views and green environments yields better cognitive functioning; more proactive, more effective patterns of life functioning; more self-discipline and more impulse control; greater mental health overall; and greater resilience in response to stressful life events.’
Nik Southern, founder, and owner of Grace & Thorn, is much more than a ‘florist’, she’s tapped right into the zeitgeist (she set up shop in 2011), and her artfully put together spaces sell flowers, plants (indoor and outdoor), a carefully curated collection of homewares and a lifestyle. Her hashtag #greenupyourgaff is an arrow fired directly into our nimble green fingers.
Her clever interpretation of ‘going green’ has got her noticed by the likes of Vogue: ‘Grace & Thorn is a Vogue girl’s go-to for a sturdy pickle jar of haphazardly-arranged blooms or alternatively a rustic tray of succulents.’ Elle Decor, The Sunday Times Style, Marie Clare, the list goes on.
This year the Mecca of flower-porn, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show have requested Nik’s hand and eye to craft the entrance gate to the show, which is set to welcome in excess of 165,000 guests over the course of the 5-day event.
‘It’s a real accolade for me, there are eyes on this show from across the globe. I felt so honoured when the RHS contacted me, they’re looking for something a bit different and we are so excited’ – says Nik.
The gates at the Chelsea Flower Show are the headliner to a three-part installation for Grace & Thorn. Her Hackney store and the Corner Room at Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green will also be bedecked in the same style.
‘This year, we’re looking to celebrate the Great Geranium — an amazing flowering plant which provides an abundance of colour and delight throughout Spring and Summer. We’re set to reimagine the Corner Room into a beautiful garden room showcasing a kaleidoscope of colour, texture and our offbeat approach’ says Nik.
The installation at the Corner Room will run between 17-26th May while petal-gazers and foodies will have the option of booking special Garden Room Brunches over the weekends of 19-20th and 26-27th May.
Nik and her team offer their expert services to help everyone ‘green up’ their space, whether it be a one bed flat or a wing of your stately home.
‘We get so many people – shops, restaurants and residential too. We also create window boxes, install complete roof gardens, balconies, all spaces. People are getting the confidence to go bigger now, people have jungles in their homes.’
Grace & Thorn also run events and workshops, so if you fancy designing a statement-making flower hair garland for festival/wedding season; or if you fancy trying your hand at Terrarium building, book onto a workshop.
If you’re infamous for being a little heavy handed/absolutely useless when it comes to caring for plants, Nik advises starting your own home-jungle with hardier plants like Devil’s Ivy, a Rubber Tree, or a Cheese plant, check out Nik’s book ‘How Not To Kill Plants’.
‘I am not a Professor of Botany, but having run Grace & Thorn, since 2011 I’ve learned a few things along the way. I get asked every type of question you can imagine and I have written this book to answer them.’
If you’re keen on becoming a green goddess keep in the loop with Nik’s online botanical publication, The Cut. It includes regular features like ‘Agony Plant’ – see what they did there – bestowing priceless plant knowledge.
Visit Grace and Thorn at 338 Hackney Road, London, E2 7AX.
For tickets to the RHS Chelsea show see here.