To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow - Audrey Hepburn
Like so many people, I've found this year to be quite tough and tricky to navigate. However, one thing that has really helped me and my anxiety which I have to credit for getting me through these last 6 months, has been gardening and I know I'm not alone in that. The lockdown has seen unprecedented numbers of people getting into gardening which has made me so so happy! Gardening has so many amazing benefits and has become a really important part of my life, which I'll be sharing more about in the coming weeks on the blog.
Back at the start of March, without having any idea of what was imminently about to come, I'd popped to the garden centre with Mum and picked up a medley of Tomato and Aubergine seeds as I thought getting back into gardening and growing fruit and veg would be a lovely way for us to spend time together and deep inside I hoped it would provide us with a positive way to process our grief after my Dad passed away suddenly last summer. To sow seeds and nurture plants is also a way to nurture hope and I was hopeful that rediscovering a passion for gardening and growing would give us something to look forward to in the summer months. Little did I know then, just how important that hope would become.
With everything that has been happening, like many we've been spending more time at home than ever before and that looks like it'll be continuing for a while yet. My home space has become many things; my office, somewhere we cook and eat all our meals as well as a place to unwind and switch off. This has made me look at my living space with a different perspective and I've been trying to make little changes to make my home more comforting as well as a productive space. With gardening becoming a big part of my life now, I really wanted my indoor space to reflect that. Adding some more house plant babies (as I like to call them), made sense and I started doing my research on which plant additions would work best in my home and help create the environment I wanted to. I really wanted a statement plant for the lounge and decided on a large Parlour Palm* (Chamaedorea Elegans), which I was very kindly gifted by The Stem.
It's no exaggeration to say the palm has really transformed the room, which has made me so happy! The size works really well and makes the plant a focal point of the lounge. The space feels a lot more homely, but not overwhelming or cluttered which is exactly what I wanted. Importantly I've also become aware of how fresh the air in the room feels, which is really crucial when I'm spending long working days at home, staring at a screen.
Parlour Palm & Plant Care Tips
The Parlour Palm (Chamaedora - and also known as the Neanthe Bella palm or Good luck palm) got its name from the Victorians as they loved them and would keep them in the parlour. Nowadays it's a perfect plant for any room including bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens.
It's a really easy plant to look after as it's pretty low maintenance. Parlour palms are non-toxic plants, so really child and pet friendly. One of the things I really love is how it's a great plant for air-purification as it can remove pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from the air. The lush green foliage is so elegant and striking. The palm grows quite slowly so don't worry it won't be a triffid like plant which takes over the home.
Growing more parlour palms from your existing plant is easy too. You can propagate new plants by dividing an established parlour palm at the root base, which will also help turn a dense or overcrowded plant into smaller clumps which can be transplanted into another pot. Once transplanted the palms may need a couple of weeks to properly settle in. Don't worry if you notice a little bit of die-back (fronds turning brown) after propagating, this is normal. Just remove the dead stems and leaves when this happens and follow the care tips below to keep the your palm plants healthy.
Regular misting is great for keeping the foliage fresh and helps to circulate the air around the plant
Give the leaves an occasional wipe to remove dust, and trim brown fronds at the base to remove
Things to look out for
Leaf tips going brown
Best kept in a bright room, but in a lightly shady spot, not in direct sunlight
Check the soil once a week and water whenever the top soil feels dry
In spring and summer you can feed the palm once a month with a high nitrogen slow-release fertiliser or use worm castings or compost, as well. If you're not sure on what to feed the plant with I can recommend the Natural Grower range. I use it in the garden, but it's also suitable for house plants. The fertilisers are organic, natural and vegan; rich in nitrogen, potash and phosphates - everything that your plant needs to thrive and so much kinder all round than chemical fertilisers. With the liquid you can add it to your watering can when watering your plants - it's best to add it to the soil at the base of the plant. The soil conditioner is perfect for giving your plants a boost when you're repotting. The range is also stocked by The Stem so you can order it with your plants.
Who are The Stem?
The Stem is a new London based, ethically driven online garden centre with sustainability at the heart of its business - this is super important to me. They want to spread health and happiness to homes through their plants and hand-deliver plants and beautiful accessories directly to you, all in the most sustainable way possible whilst also maintaining affordable prices. More and more I'm focusing on making changes, even small ones so I can live more sustainably and my love of plants and gardening has become key to that. One of my favourite things about The Stem is their commitment to sustainability, in particular their partnership with the Eden Reforestation Project. The project aims to reduce extreme poverty and restore forests by employing local villagers from around the world to plant millions of trees each year.
The Stem are keen to take ownership of their impact on society and the environment and have really backed that up with their actions:
- Deliveries are made using 100% electric vans with zero emissions which means they are doing their bit to reduce the toxic air pollution in London
- The Stem plant a tree in partnership with the Eden Project for every order that's made by customers which is incredible! This helps to offset the carbon in their supply chain.
- No plastic packaging is used - I can confirm that when you receive your plant it arrives wrapped in recyclable paper
- And there is more - each plant delivery contains a postcard thank you note which is imprinted with wildflower seeds. You can pop the whole card in some soil or compost, the paper will break down and the seeds will grow and reward you with beautiful wildflowers which are beneficial for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. This makes my heart sing!
The Stem currently delivers to all London postcodes and all postcodes beginning with EN, IG, RM, DA, BR, CR, SM. If you're not London based, but know someone who is a plant lover, a gift from The Stem would make a lovely and long-lasting gift idea as an alternative to a bouquet of flowers.
I found the customer service to be amazing, the staff are genuinely so kind and caring. You get scheduled deliveries, a 30-day no questions asked return policy which is really handy if you find your chosen isn't quite right for your space, and really importantly a free ongoing plant care service, perfect for any of us who may have struggled to keep all our houseplants alive in the past.
I'd love to see and hear about your plant baby home additions so please feel free to comment or share with me using the #planthappiness and #justlovelylittlethings hashtags. If you'd like to keep updated with my gardening adventures, I have a new page on Instagram for all things garden and plant related at @justlovelylittlegardening