Who doesn’t love flowers,
plants, and other natural greenery? A bouquet of cheer and beauty to bring
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
foam insulation, plywood, clothes, carpeting, furniture, paper
goods, household cleaners
plant, golden pothos, bamboo palm, corn plant, chrysanthemum, mother-in-law’s
tobacco smoke, gasoline, synthetic fibers, plastics, inks, oils,
English ivy, arginata, chrysanthemum, Gerber’s daisy, warneckei, peace lily
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
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
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
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.
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