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Plants For Dark Spaces

Living in a basement flat really limits the plants that are suitable for my flat. It’s dingy, damp and draughty. Pretty much inhabitable for plants. But there is hope, if I can make plant work in my flat so can you!

If you’re like me and live some where dark and dingy, here are my top plants for dark spaces. They’re also easy plants to care for, even if you don’t have the greenest of thumbs. Don’t worry we’ve all killed our fair share of plants.

Philodendron

Native to tropical America, this plant has beautiful heart shaped leaves and is great for low lit rooms. Growing high in the trees this epiphyte is a trailing vine or you can train it to climb. Another plus to owning a Philodendron is that it’s so easy to care for. Keep the soil moist in summer, but never waterlogged this can cause root rot.. Allow it to dry out in the winter. They like humidity, mist occasionally otherwise I like to take mine into the shower with me. It’s fast growing and easy to propagate. A must have in my eyes.

Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky on Unsplash

Sanservieria 

Not one I have in my collection yet but snake plants are SO easy to care for. This plant is perfect if you’re looking to add green to your flat but not overly green fingered. Native to western tropical Africa, it’s very slow growing but is great to have in low lit bedrooms as they release oxygen during the night. Too lower light will dull the markings on the leaves, just move to a less shady spot. Allow to completely dry out between watering.

Spathiphyllum

Peace lilies are another super easy plant to look after and great for those darker rooms. These evergreen plants are native to tropical regions of America and southeastern Asia. This flowering plant produces lush white flowers but in the right conditions. Check the soil before watering, if it’s damp don’t water, if dry it’s safe to water. Another way of checking to see if your Spathiphyllum needs watering is that the leave start to droop, once watered you’ll see them bounce back. I adopted a couple of Spathiphyllums off my parents which I’ll need to repot this spring and also have an extremely root bound one that my partner sort of neglected which I’ll be trying to bring it to its full potential.

Asplenium

There’s many different species you can have. I particularly like the Bird’s nest fern. It’s big beautiful green leaves and the way the fronds unravel from the centre captivate me. Ferns are great for low leveled light but do require a little more care and attention then some of the above. Never place a Asplenium in direct sunlight as this will cause damage to the leaves, keep the soil moist and allow the top layer to dry out in between watering and they love being misted. Again I like to take mine in to the shower to really get the humidity right.

Scindapsus

This guy goes by many names Devil’s ivy, Golden pothos are just to name a couple. Attractive for the markings on the leaves they can easily be confused as a variegated Philodendron, however the leaves shape and size are different. It’s a climbing plant that you can either train or allow it trail over the pot. Again this is pretty easy to care for and can tolerate low light. This can stunt the growth but if you have a slightly less shady area it’ll be much happier. Never allow the soil to be soggy and let it dry out a little in between watering and they love humidity. This is also another plant that can easily be propagated by taking a small cutting.

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Marimo Moss Balls

After recently discovering and studying Marimo moss balls I had to share more about these fascinating fellas. There’s even a legend that comes with them, which is just as adorable as they are.

Marimo moss balls are a must have to anyone’s budding collection, they’re super cute, so easy to care for and love cool dark spots. Perfect if you live in a basement flat like myself!

Latin name: Aegagropila linnaei

History

Marimo is a Japanese word that translates to ‘seaweed ball’. They’re technically not moss, but a rare form of algae that grow in lakes in the Northern hemisphere. These slow growers can live for hundreds of years and naturally form into spheres from the currents. Growing at a rate of 5mm a year they grow between 8 – 12 inches in the wild. Their natural habitat is fresh water lakes in Japan, Estonia, Iceland, Scotland & Australia. They’re even considered a national treasure in Japan with some parts of the country having Marimo Festivals.

Legend

Japanese folklore has it that Marimo came from the spirits of two lovers. The legend has it that a tribals chief’s daughter fell in love with a commoner but their love was forbidden. The couple decide to run away but tragically fell into the Lake Akan where their spirits changed into the moss balls.

Marimo moss balls are a token of love, affection and good luck. It is also said Marimo bring the giver and receiver their heart’s desire.

Care

Your Marimo will like being kept somewhere with low-medium indirect sunlight and out of direct sunlight completely. Place them somewhere cool, keep away from any heat source in the winter.

Change the water every couple of week, you may be able to get away with changing it once a month in the winter. I prefer to collect rainwater for my Marimo moss balls, but you can use tap water, just let it sit for 24 hours before placing the Marimo in.

I’d recommend cleaning the glass each time you change the water as you might find there might be a buildup of unwanted algae.

Marimo should be a lovely deep green colour. If your Marimo are browning place them in a cooler, darker space and hopefully they’ll change back. If not you may need to add some aquarium ocean salt.

 

You can find our Marimo moss ball terrariums here.

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Meet The Maker: Make & Matter aka Chloe Cohen

Welcome to the first Meet the Maker of 2018. This time we’re introducing you to Chloe, designer and creator of Make & Matter.

Chloe produces exquisite concrete and jesmonite planters as well as small homewares. I spotted these planters when browsing around PRICK over a year ago. Since then you can now find Chloe’s work all over Bristol. But let’s get to know the process of how Make & Matter began.

Before starting Make & Matter, Chloe has had a lot of hands on experience within her field. Starting from a young age, Chloe recalls how her mother would involve her in casting their bodies in different materials.

Chloe also worked for a top designer, Oreil Hardwood for 10 years. She was apart of a small team that would create her furniture in cast resin. Although Chloe may use different materials from her ‘mentor’, you can see the skill and years of practicing these techniques in her own work.

 

As well as gathering experience and techniques from her time working with Hardwood, Chloe has also worked in many workshops and studios. Taking all this knowledge and with an interest in handmade and small batch production. Chloe wanted to explore the wider production opportunities that the UK had to offer. After winning a competition by The Southbank Centre and the Observer, which helped her set up production in Stoke on Trent producing some of her ceramic designs.

Not only has Chloe achieved all this, she also runs a successful jewellery business. This stemmed from making her own engagement ring in which she fell in love with the process. Each piece was inspired by meaningful points in her life, her marriage and the death of her grandma. But noticed that she was sat writing emails and doing other aspects of the business which she didn’t enjoy as much. Which brought her to starting Make & Matter.

 

When starting this new venture, Chloe wanted to make everything herself from start to finish. This also gave her the chance to develop and experiment with using different materials, processes and ideas. It also gave Chloe the freedom to work more on what she loves. Rather than focusing on admin and sales.

Even with the mountainous amount of experience, Chloe is still learning parts of the industry she hasn’t been apart of yet. Now selling to smaller independent retailers, she’s noticed the difference in business between companies. Where it’s more supportive, informal and forgiving. The business is growing organically with Chloe adapting and changing small bits of the business she knew she would be able to change later in the process.

 

I think we can all agree on how beautifully created Chloe’s cement and jesmonite planters are. You really appreciate the time and effort that is put into each one. If you’d like to get your hands on some, head over to Make & Matter’s Etsy Shop or pop into The Might Quinns Flower Emporium or Old Market Plants.

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Barbican Conservatory, A Photo Series.

Built into the Barbican Centre is a beautiful urban jungle to escape to if you need to get away from the chaotic city. Only open to the public on Sundays, the conservatory is a must visit for all plant obsessed people. Multilevelled and with an arid conservatory, there’s plenty of specimens for you to admire.

I visited the Barbican Conservatory with my best plant pal, Octavia last year. I wrote a small blog post about all the top plant shops and the conservatory. Below is a series of photographs I took of my visit, using my film camera. I hope you enjoy.

(If you missed that blog, why not read it now? Read about London’s Urban Jungles).

 

Barbican Conservatory.

Unedited scanned photograph, 35mm.

Series of the Conservatory glass ceiling.

Unedited scanned photograph, 35mm.

 

Palms, Barbican Conservatory.

Unedited scanned photograph, 35mm.

Urban Jungle, Barbican Conservatory.

Unedited scanned photograph, 35mm.

 

Thank you for taking the time to scroll through this post, it really does mean a lot. I’d love to know your thoughts, why not leave a comment?

Robi x

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London’s Top Plant Shops

The main reason for going to London was to carry out some market research and checking out how the top places in London are doing it. In my last blog post I wrote about Palm Vaults, (it’s awesome check it out) but we also visited lots of collaborative stores that incorporate plants into their interior or ethos.

Conservatory Archives

This place is picturesque and I could have spent a lot more time photographing the inside. Before you even get through the door there’s an entourage of tall palms outside, once inside everywhere you look there’s a plant! Filled to the brim with a large variety of houseplants, cacti, succulents, tillandsias, that’s just a fraction of it all!  

The Conservatory Achieves isn’t just a shop to buy plants, it’s a showroom. It showcases the impact plants can have on people. If you take a look through their Instagram you can see they’re much more than that, installing large pieces of plants displays into businesses.

PRICK

Prick is London’s first ever cacti specialist shop. And from the outside the large cacti in the window draw you right in. Owner, Gynelle knows a lot about this subject and has just written a book. As well as a variety of cacti and succulents to purchase, there’s a supply of beautifully crafted planters. It’s where I found out about Chloe, the beauty behind Make & Matter.

The store is extremely light making you feel relaxed and helps you envision how they’d look in your home. Don’t be scared away from the pricing of the larger species, some of them are hundreds of years old, making them much more of a collector’s item or if you’re looking for that statement piece.

Cuemars

Cuemars is a collaborative space that fuses a passion for plants, interior and fashion. It’s full of quirky and interesting products with a main focus towards botanical themed home decor.

Working alongside their friends, you have terrariums next to handmade leather purses, practical clothing and other beautiful items. There’s artwork to browse through with foliage dotted around the shop. It’s lovely, it’s got everything to brighten up your interior.

Botany

Botany is a little hidden away gem. With plants outside it’s not hard to miss. Another collaborative space that is a blend of plants and skin care, home decor and even some stationary.

There was a Scandinavian feel to the store with it’s big blankets and rustic pots you could easily fill your home with. They truly want to create a space that is beautiful and as relaxing as possible.

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London: Palm Vaults

Palm Vaults is the coffee shop of my dreams. The food was so beautifully prepared and presented. With rainbow coffees and an interior that takes you away from a bustling city.

I’ve been following Palm Vaults on Insta for a little while. I was drawn to the hanging plants from the ceiling, the pale pink tones and the decor gives you a feeling of being in LA in the 80’s. I was intrigued by the lattes I saw and the colourful display of cakes and breakfast goodies. When I was planning this trip to London I had to make time to visit. Boy am I glad we went there.

Palm Vaults is mainly a vegetarian cafe, with a lot of the food being vegan and free from options too. Perfect if you’re like me and you have a shit ton of intolerances. It meant I could fully relax and not have to worry about if the food I’m eating might get contaminated or they didn’t hear my order correctly.

Firstly we had to get coffee down ourselves. (It was 10am and the caffeine headaches were already starting). Palm Vaults have a large range of speciality coffees, but with a twist. Not only did they only serve their coffees with a wide range of non-dairy alternatives, they had a whole menu of colourful and tonic lattes. I had to get one, I went for the Red Velvet. This consisted of espresso, fresh beet juice, cacao, agave, vanilla & steamed coconut milk. It was beautifully sweet and well balanced. There’s subtle hints of all the flavours coming through without any being to overbearing. The biggest down fall? The presentation, I was hoping that the latte would have been more rich in colour but looked a little muddy. Coming from a barista background I like to see well texturised milk to create latte art, but we can’t have everything can we?

Next the food. I’m a massive fan of banana bread, especially if it’s vegan. With a couple of topping to choose from the one that made my mouth water was the almond caramel & cacao nibs. I was expecting it to be super sweet and sickly but it was so incredibly more-ish. The sweetness of the almond caramel was balanced out with the bitterness of the cacao nibs.

The decor was one of the main reasons for the visit. They have a variety of hanging plants dangling from the ceiling, the pastel pink tones reflected well with the exposed brick wall and the mirrors really opened up the space. I really loved the interior, the plants could of done with a little more TLC but being a cafe they may not have the time to care for them as much as they should.

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London’s Urban Jungles

Creating your own urban jungle is in and Bristol is just as obsessed with plants as everyone else. We’ve got shops popping up all over the city. I took a trip to London with my plant pal Octavia to see what the big smoke has to offer.

High on my list to visit was Sky Garden and the Barbican Conservatory as well as some of London’s best known plant retailers. We packed a lot into such a short period but we managed to visit everywhere and even stumbled upon Columbia Road Flower Market.

We headed over to Hackney to check out Conservatory Archives. I’ve only been following these guys on Instagram for a short time, but once you look at their feed you’ll understand why we visited. Their picturesque store was heavenly and full to the brim with every plant imaginable. Palms, cacti and climbers were plentiful and the sheer size of some of them was overwhelming.

Saturday evening we booked a table in the bar of the Sky Garden. I was extremely excited to visit this garden in a skyscraper. Arriving at the pod I was stunned by the living wall opposite, plants covering the whole wall of the building. But once inside I was slightly disappointed, don’t get me wrong, the views of London at night was spectacular and it was a lovely evening. The lighting on the plants was not flattering. It was dark, you didn’t really have a full view of the plants. There were some that looked very sun damaged and I’m sad to say that there were bug infestations on some of the plants.

During the evening there was DJ when we arrived, then a live band. We had booked a table at the bar and we had a beautiful view of the Shard as we had our drinks and shared some food. If you’re interested in visiting you’ll have to book your visit in advance as it’s viewed by booking only. You can turn up on the day but you’ll be sure to be waiting (outside) a while before being allowed in.

Sunday was much better and more focused towards visiting retailers. We spent the morning in Hackney, starting at Palm Vaults, a vegetarian cafe with a lot of it’s food being vegan. Once fed and caffeinated we headed over to Botany, a plant and lifestyle brand. We also visited Prick, London’s first specialist cacti shop who have just published their own book and Cuemars, a collaborative store of local designers, plants and lifestyle.

To finish our trip we spent the afternoon at the Barbican Centre. When I was living in London I had visited centre a couple of times to see a couple of exhibitions but never knew about the conservatory. I loved the industrial brickwork against the tropical palms, it was an urban jungle. I took my film camera with me which I’ll soon be getting developed.

I’ll be going into more detail of our time in London in following posts, but I wanted to give you an overview of our time there. To follow more of what we got up to follow us on Instagram.

Places we didn’t visit but you should is London Terrariums and Forest.

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Benmore Botanic Garden: The Fernery

When we visited Benmore Botanical Garden, within the grounds they had a beautiful Fernery. A Fernery is similar to conservatories, just specifically designed to house ferns and mosses. Ferns became extremely popular during the Victorian era, and are now making a comeback. Benmore has a collection of 142 different species of ferns from all over the world.

Outside the Fernery, 35mm scanned photograph.
Moss and fern wall inside. Digital image, Google Pixel

I find ferns fascinating, the way the fronds unravel and the detail of the leaves are intriguing. The images below are a mixture of 35mm scanned photographs and digital photographs taken on a Google Pixel. All photographs are unedited as I prefer to keep them untouched, unless I feel like they need it.

Polypodium giycyrrhiza frond unravelling, 35mm scanned photograph.
Lophosonia quadripinnata frond coiled, 35mm scanned photograph.

Commissioned to be build by James Duncan at the height of the Victorian fern craze (or pteridomania), the fernery has been standing since the early 1870. The Fernery has changed a lot since it was first built. In the early 20th Century the Fernery fell into disrepair and was left to rot.

Inside the Fernery. Digital image, Google Pixel.
Towering Ferns, 35mm scanned photograph.

Today the Fernery stands in the cliff-side, blending into the beautiful scenery surrounding it. A Century after it was left to decay, it was resurrected by the curators and members of the Young Benmore Trust.

35mm scanned photograph.
Digital image, Google Pixel.

Due to lack of detail on the original plans, they decided to add some modern twists to the building. All the stone used to build the Fernery stayed untouched with the curators adding the beautiful glass roof to provide natural light and to keep the warmth and humidity in.

Fernery Glass Roof. Digital image, Google Pixel.

The Fernery is built of three levels including a grotto with a pool and an elevated viewing platform. And I think you’ll agree with how stunning the interior is.

Digital image, Google Pixel.
35mm scanned photograph.

 

If you’d like to see more of Robi’s photographs, why not follow her Instagram @robiclm!

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Meet The Maker: Ropa Lobita aka Olivia Spooner

Welcome to the second Meet the Maker. This time we’re getting to know the genius behind Ropa Lobita. Hand drawn and screen printed locally on fairtrade and organic t-shirts. We find out the beginnings and the inspiration behind some of the designs. Everyone say a warm hello to Olivia!

I first met Olivia when I was a barista in Brew. Most mornings she’d pop in for her regular (large black americano with a little sugar) and we’d indulge each other in some polite conversation. Never did I know that one day I’d be asking her to design some t-shirts for me.

When it came to designing the t-shirts I really wanted to collaborate with a local artist. Intrigued by what I saw on her Instagram, I felt she would be great to work with. What really drew me into Olivia was her funny and witty designs and I loved the rawness of the hand drawn imagery. 

Let’s get to know how Ropa Lobita started and what makes Olivia tick.

Olivia has an artistic background but studied English Lit at University, and you can really see that influence in her work. In her Art A levels she worked with many mediums, including photography, expressionist painting and dabbled in a bit of illustration. Unfortunately, like many of us, she never felt she was up to a standard of other artist she was around and decided not to further her studies but instead followed her passion for reading. She doesn’t regret this decision and feels that there have been direct chain of reactions from the people she met and experiences she gain in those three years.

After graduating Olivia moved to Brighton then to London where she had various jobs working in pubs, restaurants, photography galleries, bookshops and even worked as a freelance photographer assistant. (How cool is that?!) As well as all that, Olivia did street photography and had some of her work present in a few exhibitions (as an artist this is an incredible achievement).

At 26, Olivia grew restless and out of the blue (even for herself), quit her job, ended her relationship and told family she was off to South America. Olivia spent two years working in Peru and Argentina, learning Spanish and travelling as much as she could. Whilst in Peru she met Oscar, who was teaching himself to be a tattoo artist. Being surrounded by the beautiful scenery and Oscar’s drive to self teach and his vocation. Understandably this got Olivia drawing again.

How it began

From the start the whole process has been organic, naturally evolving to where she is today. Ropa Lobita was heavily influenced by her time in South America. It still took a couple of years before she really got the confidence to start printing.

Once settled in Bristol she thought that she would get some of her designs printed onto t-shirts. Olivia chose to start with her Bukowski drawing as she like the meta-on-meta concept behind the design. Over the coming months she received more and more positive feedback from friends, even strangers.

During a trip to San Francisco Olivia had a guy come up to her asking where he could buy her ‘Te Recontra Amo’ t-shirt. His enthusiasm gave her the confidence to really go for it.

It all really fell into place for her when she met Ross Lovelock at a local pub in Bristol. Ross runs his own independant and local screen printing business. He’s also a designer himself. Ross specialises is doing small batch work and only focus’ on one project at a time. This really shows in the quality of his work. (If you fancy working with Ross, get in touch by sending an email over to bathtubprinting@gmail.com). 

There’s still a lot going on for Olivia as she does this alongside her day job. She’s still finding her feet with the business. She only figured out the best way to post and package her garments when she received the first order. And would only get small batches printed at a time. Like most artists, self doubt is a huge obstacle she has to constantly conquer. But she reminds herself that she’s doing something that she enjoys, creating something unique and producing garments that are environmentally friendly.

Her next release is going to be the Existential Crisis tee. This design came from a process of Art therapy. When feeling anxious Olivia likes to de-stress by reminding herself of how insignificant our Solar System is in the Universe and how, fundamentally, our existence is. (Honestly when you start thinking about it, the Universe is insane.) And also has a couple of other ideas she’s working on.

To check out what we’ve created together by heading to our collection here. You should really follow her Instagram or just head straight to her website!

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Bell Jars and Bones

It’s October and the nights are drawing in and it’s starting to get spooky out with Halloween looming around the corner. Saying that I’ve been working on a new project involving bones. Bones are cool right, people like dead things? I know I do. I’ve been toying with this idea around in my mind for a while and here’s what I’ve been up to.

I find skulls and bones slightly fascinating. These things are inside of us but we never really get to see them. I find real beauty in the way the light bounces off and creates a contrast between the shadow and the bone.

I’ve touched on using skulls/death in previous projects. In college one of my art projects was primarily based around a ram’s skull and a photography project recreating crime scenes. You might think these things are repulsive and wonder why anyone would want to work with skulls. But I like that juxtaposition between death and beauty. 

The inspiration for this project comes from my interest in taxidermy. I have roe deer skulls mounted on to my wall and have framed butterflies and a moth. I find deers to be beautiful creatures and stag horns represent such strength. Moths and butterflies can have such wonderful colouring on their wings that we don’t always see. I don’t think we realise the beauty in this world until it’s either too late or, we’re just not paying any attention to our surroundings. As a species I think that we are selfish, we don’t care or maintain this world like we should, but decided to destroy it instead (but that’s completely off topic). 

I’m also obsessed with nature and trying to capture this everlasting moment to display in your home.

The concept for this project is to design something that you wouldn’t find in the high streets, a product that is completely original and bespoke. I also want to create something that is preserved and isn’t disposable. With my obsession to capture miniature worlds and the juxtaposition of using materials that were once alive to then, in a sense, now dead.

I want to be able to merge them together, something everlasting. As soon as I thought of this, my memory jumped back to my childhood. I immediately thought of Bristol Museum’s crumbling Victorian taxidermy display and glass containers with taxidermy birds of prey in mid flight arranged to look like it was alive. Why not that, but just the bones? And, instead of being in a glass box, surrounded by nothing or by something that has faded. Why not capture the bones in a more natural habitat. This is where the preserved moss comes in.

Preserved moss is, you guessed it, moss that is brought back to life. Well, actually it’s grown, harvested, then dehydrated (or a bio chemical is used), and then dyed. So pretty much everything that is in this project was once alive and is now… dead. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m now in the process of gathering materials to make more prototypes, I’ve created a couple already (as pictured above) but it’s definitely a work in progress. But I hope that I will be able to release a couple of pieces for Halloween. Keep your eyes peeled to our Instagram @loofterrariums, for progress and when they will be available. I’d also love to hear your feedback, leave a message in the comments below. I’ll be posting to my blog regularly and updating any projects on social media, this way to Facebook.