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Bringing Nature Into Your Home
by Eileen Wosnack

bring nature into your homeWho doesn’t love flowers, plants, and other natural greenery? A bouquet of cheer and beauty to bring Nature inside the home lifts the spirits of the infirm, brings lovers together, shows compassion for those who have lost loved ones, and allows the simplicity of Nature’s perfection to be shared indoors. The tantalizing fragrance of evergreens in winter, the delicate notes of roses in summer, and the pleasing aroma of living greenery any time of the year gives us enough reason to always have fresh flowers and greenery in our homes.

The problem is that flowers grown in greenhouses are subject to tremendous amounts of chemicals. And most of the flowers sold in stores are grown in other countries – often South America. Prior to shipping, they are doused even more to ensure not a bug or parasite enters the country along with the flowers. Customs departments do not allow greenery and flowers to cross borders unless they meet stringent requirements for diseases and pests.

Workers in the greenhouses and in the florist’s shops suffer a host of problems associated with these pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, ranging from contact dermatitis to birth defects. And having them in our homes exposes us and our families to these noxious substances too. One solution is to only buy locally grown organic flowers, but there are not enough to go around and the quality often does not compare to the flowers subjected to chemicals, at least in appearance.

   

What, then, does one do to bring the bounty of Nature into the home without getting caught in the vicious cycle of chemical growing?

Green design always includes elements of Nature. Minimalists choose a single oversized flower blossom to present in such dramatic fashion that one is all that is required. In Oriental arrangements, fewer flowers are used to create balance and harmony in elegant designs. For those who love the rambling look of English country garden bouquets, haphazardly bunched together with found elements from the garden and loosely arranged in old crockery, more local greenery, and fewer flowers could be an option.

Plants That Clean the Air
Pollutant 

Formaldehyde

Sources

foam insulation, plywood, clothes, carpeting, furniture, paper goods, household cleaners
Solutions

philodendron, spider plant, golden pothos, bamboo palm, corn plant, chrysanthemum, mother-in-law’s tongue
Benzene tobacco smoke, gasoline, synthetic fibers, plastics, inks, oils, detergents, rubber English ivy, arginata, chrysanthemum, Gerber’s daisy, warneckei, peace lily
Trichloroethylene dry cleaning, inks, varnishes, lacquers, adhesives Gerber’s daisy, chrysanthemum, warneckei, peace lily, marginata

Living plants, rather than cut flowers, are an even better solution. Green walls have become a popular design feature in green buildings. These are walls planted with a variety of greenery, which eventually fills in the entire wall space and bounds and cascades into a living interior garden. Some green walls have elaborate watering systems that allow slow seepage at controlled times and collect the runoff to be reused. Others are hand watered in the traditional old- fashioned way. The plants requiring the greatest amounts of water are located at the lower regions and those whose water needs are less are located at the top.

Living greenery can actually clean the air in a building. NASA has named a variety of plants that are known to clean the air of certain indoor pollutants. Trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde are three common chemicals found indoors that plants are capable of removing from the air. One plant for every 100 square feet of floor space is recommended to purify the air and rid these chemicals from the indoor atmosphere.

Most of these plants have beautiful foliage and come in several color options, from variegated bronze and cream to different shades of green. Many are easy enough for beginners to grow and do not have special light requirements.

For good design sense, choose plants of varied heights and colors for a room. One from each category (some are found in more than one grouping) that is chosen for its ability to remove toxins would be most desirable, even if your home is as organic as possible. The peace lily will flourish in buildings with no natural light and provide interesting blossoms. Spider plants come in several shades of green and variegated leaves and are very easy to maintain. The old stand-bys mother-in-law’s tongue (sansevieria), pothos, corn plants (one of the dracaenas) and English ivy (which is invasive outdoors) used to be in every home in the 1950s and 60s. Perhaps it is time to bring them back inside!

Choose pots of earthenware from flea markets, garage sales and second hand stores that match your decor. Only upon failing to find intact interesting used vessels, should you go off to the store to purchase new ones. Be sure that the plants have adequate light, good organic fertilizer, clean organic soil and fresh water when they feel dry to the touch. When the plants become too large for their pots, repotting to a larger container will be necessary; however, with many plants, such as the pothos and English ivy, the pots will not need to be changed for a very long time. Occasional pruning and pinching back wayward growth will help shape the plant, unless the desired look is to be an overgrown jungle of greenery.

Every room is friendlier with a little live greenery gracing its decor. Along with the interest created by finding just the right containers and pots, plants can invoke the magical artistry of Nature into your home and purify the air while producing oxygen. What artificial beauty can rival that?

Eileen Wosnack is the principal designer of Spirit Interior Design in White Rock, British Columbia and founder of Eclectrix™ Organic Home, a sustainable organic interiors store. She is a member of the Canada Green Building Council and the Organic Trade Association.

Photo Dropu/Shutterstock

 

 

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