Does your room have a view?
Firstly, we would like to apologise for our online absence in recent months. Such a busy time! Ludovic spent Christmas in France with his family, fortunately returning home before the coronavirus craziness hit full steam. We then went to the mainland for a working holiday for five weeks. I presented at Greenlife Industry Australia's Healthy Plants, Healthy People conference in Perth in early March, after which we road-tripped our way across southern Australia.
NB. For those of you who are not Australian, the mainland is that part of our country that you think of as Australia. Many of you leave out our lovely Apple Island from your maps of Australia. Don't worry, we will forgive you ... eventually!
Tasmania: AKA 'Apple Isle' as it produced large volumes of that fruit
We have been in self-isolation since arriving back in Tasmania a week and a half ago. I have had a lot of time for contemplation about .. well life in general, haven't we all?
View from my window
I have also spent a lot more time than usual on Facebook. One group in particular has caught my attention: View from my window. This group has been created to connect people from all around the World during these tough times. People are encouraged to share pictures of the view from their window as they are experiencing lock-down, whether it be the rooftop of their town, overview of a park, nearby buildings, the ocean, a tiny street or even the sky. With 400,000 members (and counting), this group has obviously struck a chord with people seeking a human connection, but I also think these people are missing their nature fix. It is NOT a photographic competition. Some of the views shared make you wonder how people can live in such confined spaces with next to no greenery. Humans are truly resilient creatures!
I was inspired to share a photo of the view from my window with this group. This is essentially the space I use as a home office. I have been working from home for the most part of two years, so I am pretty accustomed to this view. However, I never take it for granted. Why?
View from my 'home office'
Provoking a biophilic response
For a recent article on biophilic design for Hort Journal Australia, I interviewed Dr Dominique Hes from the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne School of Design who said: "We evolved in nature, so our brains are more relaxed when we are connected to nature and that is all connected to well-being. It is like the difference between how you are after a good night's sleep compared to having an okay but not great night."
That is what some experts call a 'biophilic response'. I know that I am very privileged to have this view as it helps to relax and re-centre me during difficult times. That is why I don't take it for granted.
(NB. To read my article on biophilic design, click on this link and skip to page 40)
Getting your nature fix during lock-down
One of the most common design considerations associated with biophilia is the desire to establish a strong visual connection with nature. Whilst real nature is preferred over simulated nature, biophilic design experts claim simulated nature is better than no nature. “If you cannot keep live plants, then have nice pictures or have fake plants,” Dr Hes told me. We both agreed though that real plants help to improve indoor air quality, an attribute that fake plants do not share.
So how can you add a little nature to your home?
1) Grow an indoor plant
Nurseries and garden centres are still open, although you will have to conform to physical distancing requirements in-store if you choose to visit them. And many are offering home delivery services too. You may even want to shop online and not have to leave your home.
My tip: Now is definitely the time to support your local independent nursery (and other small community owned and operated businesses too). Find a nursery that is Plant Life Balance accredited as they are super-informed on the benefits of indoor plants and can help you choose the right ones for your particular interior. Click here to find an accredited nursery near you.
The very hardy Zanzibar Gem makes an ideal indoor plant (Image: Ambius Australia)
2) Go botanical
If you don't have enough light in your room to grow an indoor plant, don't worry (too much!). Consider incorporating a botanical theme into the room where you spend the most time. Choose a new wallpaper, furniture coverings, prints, whatever. Get your plant fix!
My tip: I still can't come at fake plants ... maybe you could put in some dried flowers? They are not made of plastic and they can decompose in your compost later on (or someone else's compost if you don't have one).
This botanically-inspired wallpaper brings some nature indoors (Image: Plant Life Balance)
3) Grow a vegetable garden
Last but definitely not least! I have also been chatting with industry experts who say that the sale of vegetable seeds and seedlings has skyrocketed over the past few weeks. Not surprisingly, people hunkered down in their homes are looking for a project to keep them busy and gets them outdoors. Growing your own vegetables also helps to feed your family in an uncertain time.
My tip: Not surprisingly my advice to you once again is to visit your local nursery and ask for their help. Right now they need your support. And they have loads of experience to share with you.
We recently constructed some raised garden beds in a pest-proof enclosure for a couple living nearby (see illustration below). Stay tuned for more pics of this project coming soon.
Enclosed garden beds perfect for growing vegies in the country