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Your Mental Health Matters

Your mental wellbeing is extremely important and most of us will experience some type of mental health disorder during our lifetime. I’m personally affected by anxiety & depression so this topic is close to me.

Houseplants have had a huge impact on my mental wellbeing & are extremely important in my self care. It was also why I founded LOOF. Working with plants is extremely therapeutic & I used the method of planting up terrariums as a coping mechanism.

I want to share with you the therapeutic power of plants and over the past couple of years I decided to start donating to Studio Upstairs. Studio Upstairs is local to Bristol & they work to help support people struggling with their mental health through creative processes. I had a stranger approach me at the Bristol Botanical Gardens to tell how much Studio Upstairs helps them & to say thank you.

I’ve previously raised money through my Bristol Plant Swaps to draw attention to them; but as the swaps change & develop, I feel like I would like LOOF to be a continuous support to those who need it.

Which is why last year I decided to donate 5% of my Tropical Terrarium Workshop profits to Studio Upstairs. I hope once this lockdown is lifted I will be able to continue donating when my workshops are back up & running. So when you buy a ticket you’re not just supporting my small business but helping Studio Upstairs support the people that need it.

Your mental health matters.

Over the past couple of years LOOF has been able to raise £250+, thank you so much to everyone who’s attended a plant swap or one of my workshops as you’ve all contributed to this lovely cause. And I’m really looking forward to start hosting events once lockdown has fully lifted so we can carry on supporting Studio Upstairs & any other Mental Health Charities.

Keep on Growing,

Robi x

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Free Arid Terrarium Tutorial

Here with my second terrarium tutorial during lockdown. This time it’s to plant up an Arid terrarium.

If you are extremely new to houseplants & caring for tropical plants is a little out of your skillset. Then this tutorial will really build up your confidence. Experimenting with cacti & succulent terrariums is how I started LOOF before I had the courage to start experimenting with tropical plants.

The benefits of an Arid terrarium is that they are much less maintenance! Meaning if you’re forgetful or go away a lot, you don’t have to be concerned about them as much.

To follow this tutorial you will need;

  • Vessel, cleaned
  • Activated charcoal (if you can get it)
  • Suitable potting mix (something well aerated with perlite or similar material)
  • 2x 5cm potted plants, your choosing of cacti & succulents (read more about that here)
  • Gravel & decorations

Now if you’re looking to challenge yourself or you’re looking to plant a terrarium up with tropical plants, you can find my tutorial over here. I really hope you found this tutorial useful. Please let me know, I really appreciate your feedback.

If this has sparked your terrarium & houseplant curiosity, I host terrarium workshops & houseplant courses. Depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic pans out, I look forward to hosting them once the lockdown is lifted. Or, I will be looking into making the workshops digital, some of which I am already sharing with you over on my IGTV & soon YouTube channel.

Thanks so much for watching & for taking the time out to read my blog.

Keep on Growing,

Robi x

If you would like to support me & my channel, you can do so here.

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Free Tropical Terrarium Tutorial

During lockdown I decided that since I couldn’t host my terrarium workshops & houseplant courses, I would create some basic tutorials so you can start your terrarium journey.

In this tutorial, I share with you my very basic method of planting up an open tropical terrarium. If you’re just exploring the world of terrariums and you don’t know where to start this tutorial is for you. Or if you’re struggling to get hold of some of the advanced materials, I hope you may find this useful. If you’re interested in how terrariums were first discovered, check out my blog post on The History of Terrariums & Pteridomania.

To follow this tutorial you will need;

  • Vessel, cleaned
  • Activated charcoal & Sphagnum moss (if you’re able to source it)
  • Suitable potting mixture (something light & airy)
  • 2x 5cm tropical plants of your choosing (if you’re not sure what plants to choose, you may find this video here useful)
  • Gravel & decorations

I hope you found this tutorial helpful, I would love to know your thoughts. Find me on Instagram or Facebook.

If this has sparked your terrarium & houseplant curiosity, I host terrarium workshops & houseplant courses. Or you feel this tutorial is too advanced, I have a Basic Arid Terrarium Tutorial, which is perfect if you’re a complete beginner & tropical plants are out of your skillset.

Depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic pans out, I look forward to hosting my workshops once the lockdown is lifted. Or, I will be looking into making the workshops digital, some of which I am already sharing with you over on my IGTV & soon YouTube channel.

Thanks so much for watching & for taking the time out to read my blog.

Keep on Growing,

Robi x

If you would like to support me & my channel, you can do so here.

 

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The Agony Plant

My monthly IGTV series helping you with your houseplant problems!

We all struggle with our plants from time to time. And just like in life when we may need an Agony Aunt, I’m here to be your Agony Plant. (I don’t know if this is genius or just silly).

There’s nothing more fun than watching your houseplant thrive & grow. But when starting out your plant collection, you may kill a plant or two. That’s completely normal. I still kill houseplants. It happens, it’s going to happen. Plants are living beings.

But occasionally you’ll have a plant that is just not really doing anything. Sat there looking maybe a little limp.  You’re not too sure what’s going on but you know something not right.

This is where I hope to help you. You can send me your plant problem asking for advice.

This is a monthly feature for my Instagram but will be sharing across my Facebook & Youtube at later dates. If you want to catch the episode first, you’ll have to follow me on Instagram. As the new episode goes live to my IGTV channel on the last Sunday of the month at 4pm (as long as I don’t hit any technical difficulties).

If you’re experiencing a plant problem & you just don’t know what to do. Send me an email to info@loofterrariums.com, Facebook message me or use the contact form at the bottom of this page. Include images of the poorly plants with the care/conditions you’ve been giving the plant. I aim to reply to emails/messages within a few days.

In the first & second week of the month, I’m asking people to send in their problems. I also begin planning my episode by choosing people’s houseplant problems. I try to pick issues I think my followers will benefit from seeing/hearing about. So send me in your problems!

In the third week I begin the filming process by planning the episode & scheduling time to film & do any retakes. I have to practice what I’ll be saying as sometimes with my dyslexia I stumble when speaking. Or better yet my brain just stops working. I always put a whole day aside for this.

If everything’s going to plan. Towards the end of week three I might put a simple edit together. Before finishing the editing process off in the fourth week to have it ready to upload on the last Sunday of the month.

And that is my Agony Plant feature. If you would like to support me you can do so here. But I hope you enjoy this feature & be sure to follow me on IG to not miss an episode.

Keep on Growing,

Robi x

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DIY Moss Poles

I’ve been making my own moss poles at home for the past year. Because? Why not.

Well, I thought it was going to be more fun than buying a moss pole off of Amazon plus I don’t really like the look of the premade poles.

If you fancy making up your own, I hope these videos may help you.

Here are the main materials I use to make my own at home;

  • Bamboo sticks
  • Twine
  • Sphagnum moss
  • optional – hessian fabric, I used a coffee sack from Extract Coffee.

There’s a few different variations I’ve made. The simplest just being sphagnum moss wrapped around the bamboo sticks secured with twine. This will suffice for smaller plants. For my larger ones I’ve experimented making thicker poles with the hessian fabric. Some have worked well & some of my larger ones did snap under the weight.

If you’d like to see more DIY Moss Pole videos you can check them out on my YouTube channel. Otherwise I now I have tutorial available.

Thanks so much for taking time out to read this blog post. I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions please just shoot me an email to info@loofterrariums.com where I’d be happy to help you out.

Why not give me a follow on IG? My most up to date social media page & where I have my monthly feature The Agony Plant. A series where I help you with your houseplant problems. Please do get involved!

That’s it from me, thanks again for your time.

Keep on Growing,

Robi x

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Virtual Talk with Candide Gardening

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by Candide to take part in their virtual Garden Club whilst we are in lockdown.

Talking in front of large groups of people is something that I dread having to do. But it’s going to happen at some point. And surely having a virtual audience is better than a real one?

When I was first approached by Candide I was hesitant whether to do it or not. Would my anxiety get the better of me? Will my voice crack under pressure? Will I just fuck it up?

I didn’t. And I’m actually quite proud of myself for doing it. (Although it did mentally drain me for a day or two after. And not mention my anxiety the weekend before.) And it felt like a real achievement afterwards.

Candide allowed me to cover whichever topic I wanted. There was a couple of topics that came to mind, but one stood out to me. I always hear people that love ferns, have a tendency to kill them. And I was exactly the same until I started to grow epiphytic ferns.

In the talk I cover what makes ferns different to our regular houseplants, what an epiphyte is & share with you some of the epiphytic ferns I’m growing at home. We finish the talk off with a Q&A from the virtual audience, at which point I do move away to show them some more of my personal collection. But I wasn’t able to take both cameras with me. If you have the time, I invite you to watch the video below.

I will be uploading a shorter, cut down version of the talk to my IGTV channel for those who don’t have time to watch it all the way through. But I would love to know you thoughts and if you’re growing any of these ferns at home. Just get in touch!

Thank you to those who were able to tune in live to the talk, I hope you all enjoyed it. I really loved the Q&A at the end. I definitely felt I loosened up a little bit.

Keep on Growing,

Robi x

IG – www.instagram.com/loofterrariums

Facebook – www.facebook.com/loofterrarium

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx66MEVCRVK_I8Ml-YNxifA

Support this channel – www.loofterrariums.com/donate

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Free Terrarium Tutorials

Whilst we’re in lockdown I’m working on releasing two basic terrarium tutorials to aid you in beginning your terrarium journey! These tutorials will be available for free and using minimal materials.

Terrariums are the foundations of my business and it can be a little daunting when first starting out. So let’s build your terrarium confidence with some very basic tutorials. Once you’ve mastered this method you can venture to one of my terrarium workshops to learn about them further or experiment with your own method.

In these videos I talk you through choosing the plants best suited for the terrarium you are building. I will show you a basic method to planting up a terrarium with tropical plants. The other tutorial will show you a basic method for planting up an arid terrarium.

If you would like to follow theses tutorials you will need the following materials;

  • Clean vessel (preferably an open container where you can fit hands through & big enough to fit two 5cm pots)
  • Activated Charcoal, this is definitely beneficial but understandably a material you may not have to hand.
  • Suitable potting medium – for tropicals you need a light & free draining medium then for arid plants a well aerated mix with perlite (or similar).
  • Two 5cm potted plants of your choosing. (Watch the video below.)
  • Decorative gravel, cleaned (my preference is aquatic gravel)
  • Decorative stones or decorations of your choosing
  • Small tools, optional
  • Gloves, optional but preferable if working with cacti.

But before we get going on the tutorials. We need to pick the perfect plant pals for your new terrarium. In this video I explain choosing the right plants for the type of terrarium you’re planning to plant up.

I hope you found this video useful. There will be more videos to follow. I am a one woman team and I really appreciate your patience waiting for my next release. If you’re interested in becoming a better plant parent follow me on Instagram, where I have my Agony Plant series helping you with your plant problems & more! Otherwise find me on Facebook, it’d be great to see you there.

You can find the FREE Tropical Terrarium Tutorial here.

If you would like to support me during this time you can shoot me a donation here.

Keep on Growing,

Robi x

 

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LOOF IN LOCKDOWN

I had such a high expectation of living in lockdown but even during this I feel like I’m failing.

Before this lockdown began I had planned tons of workshops up until mid-July ish. In some fab locations, may I add (UoB Botanic gardens, Bramble & Wild and Studio Cotton to name a few). And I was just getting my brain into gear to start promoting my wave of new houseplant courses.

Last year I had Ella (@ellabrydendesigns, her work is ace) photograph a couple of my workshops to use as promo material. I was ready to start shouting about my new workshops. Ready to take on this year.

Then lockdown. I’ve now spent the past five weeks completely restructuring my business. (Tya closed Wild Leaf on the 18th March. I’ve been doing my side of the social media from home & going in once a week to do maintenance). LOOF has changed pretty dramatically from when I started it in 2016. Now, it’s great that I can eb and flow so much with my business & it does give me great flexibility. But it fucks with my anxiety & fucks with the way I view my self worth.

And fuck me, I almost feel like I’m back at square one financially. I had just got to the point where the business was pretty much self sufficient. My cash flow was way more fluid. I felt a lot more stable about everything. To go from being that to now this… Cue tumbleweeds.

On a more positive note, I’m glad that I do have something to work on whilst this is going on. I’m working on some free basic terrarium guides. Trying to break my Houseplants; Back to Basics down into bite sized IGTV videos. I would just like to say a major thank you to David Hoare (@branchingaudio) who orchestrated my little jingles. But I’ve completely overwhelmed myself with the amount of work I’ve demanded of myself and my constant migraines & blurred vision is halting this. But keep an eye out on my social media platforms for further updates.

Although this very bizarre & strange situation is only temporary, I’m trying to practice self care as much as I can. It’s really testing my mental state. Last winter I went to a yoga class & if I hadn’t done that practice I wouldn’t be bothering to do it now. I’ve got the confidence in being able to explore yoga a little bit further (total beginner) but I’ve found a routine that I like & boy does it make you work your body.

The one thing I have tried to take full advantage of during this quarantine is making the most of the sun whilst we have it & zooting about about in my fixed gear. The only thing that would make this ideal would be to have a little Italian greyhound or a whippet.

I hope you’re all staying safe & sane during these turbulent times. I know having my houseplants during all this is making much more barrable. Some of mine are just about to burst into flower!

Thanks so much for reading.

Keep on Growing – Robi x

 

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The History of Terrariums & Pteridomania

Pteridomania; The Victorian craze for ferns or fern-fever that swept Britain during 1840-1890’s. Making somewhat of a comeback in our present day.

Most modern terrariums are inspired by the Victorian Wardian case.

How was the terrarium discovered?

In 1829 Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward invented the Wardian case. A case made of glass & wood to transport & keep exotic plants alive. However this invention came from an accidental discovery. Ward at the time was fascinated by ferns but hadn’t had much luck growing them himself.

In the summer of 1829 Ward was studying insects & had buried a chrysalis (the pupa) of a Sphinx moth in a contained glass bottle with some moist mould. After about a week of observing the bottle a fern had germinated, along with some grass.

Ward was able to observe day to day how the vessel retained adequate moisture and was excluded of any outdoor containiments. The ideal conditions to grow tropical plants & ferns.

The invention of the Wardian case meant that explorers were able to safely transport & travel with exotics plants from all over the world. This was a huge game changer for trading,  the tea industry & for the era.

As Ward was the first to publish his studies, he has become widely known as the inventor of the terrarium. However, a Scottish botanist A. A. Maconochie, had invented something similar almost a decade earlier but rarely receives any credit.

How do terrariums work?

Today’s terrariums come in all shapes, sizes & vessels. You can have them open (generally used for arid plants) or enclosed depending on your preference. Terrariums are supposed to give the plants the more optimum conditions for plants to grow. The glass intensifies the light but also provides shelter to any outside contaminants.

As Ward discovered what had happened in his bottle. He was able to observe on a daily basis, during the day’s heat moisture would collect on the inside of the glass & would slowly filter back down to the mulch before the cycle would happen again. Ward was able to observe how the glass bottle was able to keep the same degree of humidity continuously.

But it wasn’t only the humidity that played a part. Due to the bottle being enclosed the inside is exempt from any outdoor contaminants. Ferns that Ward was desperately trying to grow outdoors would fail time & time again, he could then grow easily within an enclosed container.

What else was going on during the Victorian era?

Since everyone was going crazy for ferns, it wasn’t a surprise that glasshouses were becoming more popular.

At a similar time of Ward’s finding, George Loddiges was inspired to build to world’s largest hothouse. And in the early 1830’s Loddiges had his Grand Palm House built. A structure that was 80 foot long, 60 foot wide & 40 feet high.

George was the son of Conrad Loddiges, who had founded their nursery business & arboretum in around 1816. They traded in, and introduced; exotic plants, trees, shrubs, ferns, palms & orchids to the European gardens.

The nursery was a popular attraction & to get more visitors to the hothouse Loddiges, spread the rumor that ferns were a sign of intelligence, improved virility & mental health. Which was later proved to be correct in Edward Newman’s; A History of British Ferns, published in 1844.

Pteridomania

The Victorians, poor & rich, went crazy for ferns & started to cultivate rare specimens & print fern motifs on to everything they could including wallpapers. It even inspired the pattern design on the Custard Cream.

The craze also gave women the freedom to go to Fernery’s and explore the countryside looking and foraging for ferns. Women were even allowed to organise dayout excursions into woodlands without a chaperone, this was because it was considered a wholesome, healthy & moral activity.

Cultivating ferns isn’t easy and the craze became expensive with people trying to get their hands on the rarest fern they could find. Aristocrats would sponsor scientific exhibitions to gather ferns from the West Indies, Panama and Honduras. This also created a crime wave of people stealing the rare specimens and selling them on the black market. Something that still happens to this day.

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New Botanical Workshops Coming in 2020!

We all love plants, right? But occasionally we may give the plant a little too much water, or we’re not sure on the right conditions & suddenly you have another dead plant in your life*. And all you can think about is how bad of a plant parent you are?

Well, I want to change that. I want to give you the confidence in observing & connecting with your plants so you have a better understanding of each plant’s needs. With these workshops I’m going to help you to understand some of the basics when it comes to indoor plant care. I’ll be sharing with you my experiences & knowledge that I’ve accumulated over the past four years of throwing myself into the houseplant world.
*Don’t worry I still kill the occasional plant from time to time.

What Workshops do I already host?
Currently I’ve been hosting my Tropical Terrarium Workshops since the summer 2018. Terrariums are the reason that I got into houseplants & why I started my business. In these workshops I teach you the method I use on planting up an open tropical terrarium which you can then use to plant up your own terrariums at home. Once you’ve learned this method you’ll be changing any glass vessel into a living ecosystem!
I talk about how plants are beneficial to your lifestyle & well-being, I uncover how terrariums were invented (It was by complete accident!) & then I go into full depth on the layering & tropical plants we’ll be using. I also hand out gift bags that include care information & watering pipettes, so you leave with complete certainty in caring for your terrarium.
At the beginning the terrariums need a little bit of care & attention but once the plants inside have established themselves, they require a little less attention. As you observe your terrarium over time you will begin to learn when your terrarium needs watering.
These workshops are great if you have just discovered terrariums and you don’t have a clue how to get started or if you’ve tried planting a terrarium up yourself & haven’t quite been successful. And even if you’re completely new to houseplants and looking for a way to start your obsession, this is a fantastic way to get the courage in adding more plants to your life.

Why haven’t you got any dates booked in for the new year?
Well, during the winter months plants are growing a lot less or even going through a dormancy period. From my experience planting over the winter months is not beneficial to the plants at all & can cause them more stress. So I take a break in January & February to give myself & the plants some rest. It also means when I start the workshops up in the growing season you will have a better survival rate for your plants. This also gives me change to work on my NEW workshops for you!

What new workshops are you working on?
I have been researching, studying & working on loads of houseplant care workshops. I’ve realised that people are taking more of an interest in their plants as a living being, not just a piece of decoration to brighten up a spot in their homes. I get asked daily on IG & when I’m working in Wild Leaf for plant advice. And once your plants begin to flourish, the feeling inside, you’ll just want to add more to your collection.
These workshops are going to be great for amateurs in houseplants, who are looking to better understand plants and how they can care for their plants more consistently. I will be taking it all back to basics in my Houseplant 101 workshop (not sure if I’ll be sticking with this name). In this workshop I’ll cover the different needs plants are after, giving you tips & sharing observations you can then take home with you & put into practice. I will touch upon pests & how to treat your plants when they do get infected. Cover repotting & the roots, & touch base on propagating. Find out what type of plant parent you are & understand how you coexist with plants. (I’m an overbearing mother to mine & have to constantly tell myself to back off & leave them alone!).
I’ve then being working on a Repot & Prop workshop which will focus directly on the root system of your plants and how to repot & the best potting mediums you’ll want to be using. We’ll get hands on with repotting some plants. I will also go into the different propagation methods you can use on cloning & duplicating your plant collection! This workshop will be perfect if you have that basic understanding on plants but need a little more confidence in repotting your plants or if you’re interested in growing more plants from the houseplants you already have.
I would really love to do a basic kokedama workshop & would love to do a Plant SOS at Wild Leaf each month where you can come in & talk to me directly about any issues you’re experiencing with your plants. These two workshops are still in their very preliminary stages but I’m hoping I can do this through the summer months of 2020.
And of course, I’ll be expanding on the range of terrarium workshops I’ll be hosting to include a Cactus & Succulent Terrarium workshop & how to plant up and care for an enclosed terrarium.

If you’re interested in keeping uptodate & being the first to hear about when & where I’ll be hosting my new workshops, give me a follow on Instagram or Facebook!