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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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My Plant Diaries; Starting a Business with Depression

Most people warn you away from starting your own business. The risks are high and you’ve got to put in a lot of effort for not much initial reward. Starting your own business is hard at the best of times, but throw in depression and the darkness of winter it makes it that little bit harder. People either tell you you’re crazy or they congratulate you in doing your own thing. This is what I’ve learnt so far on my journey.

Depression won’t stop you but it might take a little longer.

Now, depression affects everyone differently. Mine definitely gets a bit worse when the days get darker and it’s cold out. It’s hard to get that motivation to get out of bed to actually do anything. My body just wants to go into hibernation and I want to eat constantly. Exercising goes out of the window and pretty much all my daily habits are forgotten about.

But since taking antidepressants it’s definitely made this winter period a little more bearable. Of course staying in bed would be way better, but who’s going to do the work when it’s just yourself? Working alone means you’ve got to do all the work with very little help. Give yourself a time frame. It’s going to take you a lot longer to complete some tasks than you think. Give yourself a little leeway and things don’t always go to plan. Also make some reachable goals. Last year I gave myself six goals to complete and managed to fully complete five of them.

Write these goals down and carry them with you at all times.

Set yourself tasks

Setting yourself tasks on a daily basis really helps. Every evening I try to sit down and give myself three tasks to really focus on the next day. If I’m going through a really good positive phase, I can complete these tasks and more in a day. If my depression is at the forefront it’s much harder to complete them. Sometime I’ll give myself a personal task like ‘stay positive’ to help with my mental wellbeing which can help.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete all the task. Some tasks are more than a day’s work, break it up and spread it out. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to complete them you can always roll the tasks onto another day. This is where being your own ‘boss’ comes in handy. And sometimes other projects take priority or a task pops up that needs to be completed there and then. You’ll need to be flexible.

Every evening write down three tasks to focus on the next day.

Business or Pleasure

A great thing about starting your own business is that you should be working towards a goal or passion. This leads to your work and personal life almost merging together. There’s blurred lines when you have your own business because work can feel like pleasure. This one gets me all the time. I love being hands on in my business and some days I feel like I’ve done no work because I’ve had so much fun. My business and personal life overlap a lot, especially creating a personal brand. I’m trying to put myself completely into the business. Remember to take some time for yourself. For me it’s the little things, taking a walk, grabbing a morning coffee.

Don’t over do it, schedule some down time.

Financial Stability

This a biggun. The one people fear the most and boy it’s scary. How will you pay yourself? Will you be able to pay yourself? Can you afford to set up your own business? It’s terrifying that you might not have a stable source of income for a while. But it can strive you to really go out there and get it.

I packed my secure job at a Roastery about four months ago and each month I have a tiny little mental break down about my financial situation. This is a big trigger for my depression as well, I’ll start telling myself that my businesses is not sufficient, that it was a stupid idea to start my own business, just give up already and get that regular paycheck. I try not to listen to those thoughts.

If you focus hard enough on creating the money you need, more than likely you will be able to reach it. Focus on that one bit that brings the money in. It’s gonna get tough before it gets better and be aware that you’ll have to put a lot of your money into the business.

Part-time work is always an option.

Winging it

If you’re a creative opting to start your own business, more than likely you have no idea about the business side of things. At least that is for me. I’m having to learn a whole side to running a business that never even crossed my mind. You’ll find that you’ll probably be winging a lot of it to begin with and until you learn it, it’s all about winging it. What it does mean is that you’re learning. Teaching yourself something you didn’t know anything about.

Loof started as a hobby, I was just creating work because I could. There were no boundaries. But once it was becoming more serious, I knew I had to get some help. Enrolling for the Prince’s Trust was great, and they’ve put me in a clear direction of what I need to do. My workload has increased dramatically but that’s just another part of it.

If you want to make your business a reality, get help. Apply for the Prince’s Trust or find another charity or establishment that helps entrepreneurs. They’ll send you in the right direction and you won’t be completely winging it!

Every time you challenge yourself, you acquire a new skill.

Just do it already.

If you want it, you’ll do it. My depression was probably a catalyst in making this decision to start this business, or at least pursue it as my career. The thought of going back to a ‘normal’ job scares me and I love the freedom having your own business gives you. I’ve got loads of hurdles to overcome and I’m sure my depression is going to make it a super bumpy ride. But to hell with it. Fuck doing things for other people, I’m doing this for me.

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. I hope you found it interesting and insightful.

If you have any questions or fancy a chat, I’m just an email or personal message away. Robi x

 

Images courtesy of Beth Evans, Abandon Ship and not my own.

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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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November 2017

A quick recap on the past couple of weeks and find out what we’ve got in store for you this November!

Apologies on missing posting to the blog last week. Here’s just a quick review on what’s been happening at Loof HQ.

The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a personal struggle. My mental health has taken a bit of a bashing through challenging my comfort zones.

I spent 4 days with the Prince’s Trust on their Explore Enterprise Course, had an MRI scan and went to a lot of evening seminars. The Prince’s Trust was great, met loads of great artists, designers and like minded people. It was also an emotional rollercoaster with talking about finance and feeling way out of my depth.

This as well as going to business seminars where a lot of the talk was about finance, I sunk into my depression questioning ‘why on earth am I doing this?’.

Then let’s throw in having to go to the hospital. I hate hospitals and work myself into a stressed little bee, thinking of all the possibilities that could be wrong with me. Luckily I’ve had the results back and they were negative. People would see this a positive, but all I can think is ‘am I imagining everything? Maybe I’m not ill at all and my mind is playing tricks on me.’

Dealing with all this in the space of 2 weeks was a little too much for me to handle. But I’m feeling motivated and inspired to focus on Loof and the next month is going to be a busy one. Here’s what’s coming up!

 

 

November 2017

4th & 5th Nov – Market Research Trip, London!
5th Nov – BS5 Market, St George. 10am – 2pm. My partner will be doing this alone, stock will be limited.
17th Nov – B-Bee’s Craft and Farmers Market, Fishponds. 7pm – 10pm.
25th Nov – Made In Bristol Gift Fair, Colston Hall. 10am – 4pm.
30th Nov – Bookbarn Winter Fayre, Bookbarn International.  4pm – 9pm.

 

Myself and my friend are off to London for a market research trip. We’ll be visiting Sky Garden, the Barbican Centre and loads of awesome plant inspired stores. I’ll be documenting the whole trip over Instagram, get following for all the updates, click here. I will be taking my film camera and writing a blog post about it when we get back.

Whilst I’m away David will be taking the reins on the BS5 Market, as there will only be him there, there will be limited stock available. But we have the option for you to place an order for any of the terrariums.

We’ll be getting prepped for Christmas (I know, I’m sorry for bring up it up when it’s only October). We have lots and lots of markets that we’ll be attending (all listed above), get the dates in your diaries now! I will soon be taking Christmas orders to help you get organised and (hopefully) not miss out on getting awesome gifts for your family and friends. I’d advise getting in contact as soon as you can if you’re wanting a terrarium made, especially if you’re after a custom/bespoke terrarium.

 

 

Another thing I’ll be working on over the next month is subscription boxes. Plants delivered straight to your door every month! Each subscription box will include a potted cacti or succulent with varied surprises each month. The longer the subscription the bigger and better the surprise. Another great thing about the subscription boxes, we’ll be able to post them all over the UK. If you’ve been dying to get your hands on some of our potted plants, this will be your chance!

I hope to launch this at the beginning of December with the first box arriving just before Christmas. This will make a great gift for the cacti lover, or as a treat to keep for yourself (you decide!).

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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.