Shopping for plants is always fun, whether you want to expand your garden or just get a succulent for your office desk. However, it can be hard to pick out the best shops in your area that have not only high quality greeneries, but also a wide selection for gardeners of all levels. To help you get started, here are four best gardening shops in Sydney’s Inner West…
Newtown Garden Market
538 King Street, Newtown
This centre specialises in apartment gardening – from indoor leafy plants to succulents and pots to pond plants, nothing is off limits.
Flower Power Garden Centre Enfield
27 Mitchell Street, Enfield
Flower Power is like a one-stop shopping centre. The garden centre, which comprises of indoor and outdoor nurseries boasting diverse collections, is complemented with fresh fruit and veggie palace, giftware and homeware shops, pet care centre, and a café.
Annandale Garden Centre
34-36 Booth Street, Annandale
As a locally-owned business, Annandale Garden Centre is humble yet rich. Other than shrubs and aquatic plants, the store also offers a wide range of bonsai, cacti, seedlings, herbs and many more. Don’t hesitate to ask the staff for advice on vertical gardening and terrarium building!
Butterfly Blooms Garden Centre
162-166 Unwins Bridge Road (corner of Sutherland Street), St Peters
You know how cafes told you to “bring your own cup”? Well, you can do the same thing at Butterfly Blooms with your pot for the staff to fill. This large centre indeed has everything you need – from pots, flowers, seeds to bags of potting mixes.
The internet is a great source for learning everything, including gardening. If you’d rather watch than read, Youtube could be your choice of platform. Here are a few Youtube channels that would help you learn more about gardening, from aquaponic system to container farming. Check them out!
Pilarchik’s channel is one of the most informative resources you can find on the Net when it comes to gardening. If you’re very new to gardening, you can also check his second channel New Gardeners which have videos with more detailed instructions.
When it comes to outdoor gardening, landscaping and edible farming, Raymond Browning’s Praxxus55712 has everything you need. Don’t have a huge backyard? No problem, just head to Browning’s VoodooGarden channel for all indoor gardening tips.
The number of Australians living in high-rise apartments doubled between 1991 and 2011 and that trend has continued since then. The quarter-acre dream is fast disappearing and larger blocks and family gardens along with it. As more people move from country areas to the city and as land to build homes near the city centre becomes scarce, we’re getting further and further away from nature. It turns out this isn’t great for our health.
The change in urban environments because of development, associated with a rapid increase in chronic disease, is a global phenomenon in developed countries. In the past children grew up running on bare soil and grass, explored backyard farms and gardens, climbed trees and were exposed to a high level of bacteria. And the diversity of the bacteria can change if an individual is exposed to different environmental conditions.
One of these conditions is living in a high-rise apartment far away from land, soil, trees and plants. Being close to nature is linked to positive mental well-being – and people living in urban areas have been shown to have a disadvantage in processing stress. This can be at least partially attributed to increased exposure to air pollution and heat stress, and decrease in exercise and fitness through lack of access to a garden or nearby park.
The less exposure to nature we have, the less diverse the bacteria in our microbiota. The microbiota is the community of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live in our gut and on our skin. We need a diverse exposure for our body to fight inflammation effectively.
Alteration in the human bacterial communities, including the disappearance of ancient microbiotic species, is thought to cause inflammation in the body. These ancient species were known to encourage development of cells that regulate the immune system (T-cells). When our immune system stays on high alert all the time, instead of resting when no threats are present, this causes inflammation, which can lead to chronic disease.
Where plants come in
The bacteria we have are similar to those of plants in that we both carry trillions of good and bad bacteria. The diversity of the microbiota is measured by how many families of bacteria are present. We know the diverse plant microbiome influences plant growth, and humans benefit by eating plant foods. An important research question remains: do we gain another benefit simply by having contact with plants?
Plants also remove volatile compounds from the air including ozone and carbon dioxide. They turn the carbon dioxide into oxygen, meaning air quality is drastically improved. Higher oxygen levels inside a small apartment mean well-being may be improved for the occupants. Viewing plants reduces stress and is pleasing to the human eye.
Nature therapy (shinrin-yoku), first invented in Japan, has proven beneficial for our health by lowering blood pressure and boosting mental health. This is done by simply going for a mindful walk in the forest.
It has also been established that plants confer positive changes in the brain’s electrical activity, muscle tension and heart activity.
Some plants that are beneficial in the home
Peace Lily: if this plant is placed in the hallway it will reduce many toxins such as benzene, ammonia, acetone and ethyl and will prevent toxins from spreading between rooms in the apartment.
Devil’s Ivy (Golden Pothos): this plant can be placed in low light and cool temperatures such as an air-conditioned office or an outdoor garage. It will remove ozone, which is found in car exhaust fumes.
Outdoor plants and soil have an abundance of ecological communities compared to indoor environments, a higher diversity of microbes, and therefore increase the numbers of insects, birds and other fauna. Viewing and being among large parks and green areas has been shown to improve the mental and physical well-being of people living in urban areas.
With backyards becoming increasingly rare, diversity is decreasing in urban areas. In response, the City of Toronto has written into local law that all new buildings must have green roofs that include vegetation, drainage, waterproofing and slope stability. The reasoning for the law was that green roofs provide:
energy savings from better solar reflectivity, evapotranspiration and insulation, green roofs last up to twice as long as regular roofs, and green roofs can beautify and add value to Toronto’s buildings by providing scenic views and recreational areas in dense urban areas.
A similarly bold strategy here would benefit not only the health of our apartment dwellers, but also the environment.
Are you a fan of the Royal Botanic Garden’s flower collection? Well, good news – you can buy them with just a gold coin contribution.
The RBG’s All About Flowers floral display, which is the first of its kind in the garden’s horticultural centre The Calyx, is ending on August 2. To celebrate the run, more than 18,000 plants from the display will be sold for just a gold coin (or $10 for the orchids). Bringing your own basket or bag is recommended.
When it comes to sustainable gardening and farming, going organic is a great start – but why not take another step forward with permaculture?
Milkwood presents Intro to Permaculture, an intensive weekend workshop on permaculture principles and systems that promote low-energy living and regenerative gardening.
The two-day course will provide a comprehensive overview of how to apply pro-active, sustainable design techniques to your habitat, be it a small apartment, a quarter-acre block, or a rural property. The course, taught by Milkwood director and permaculture designer Nick Ritar, also includes a copy of Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture textbook, course notes and coffee and tea.
Tickets start at $441 per person. For more information, visit Milkwood’s website.
August 12-13 | 107 Projects, 107 Redfern Street, Sydney
We know that home gardens can produce edible fruits, vegetables and herbs, but what about edible flowers? Which ones can we eat safely, and how do we prepare them?
There are a wide range of flower varieties that are edible for human. These include, but not limited to: chives, courgette, chrysanthemum, dahlia, dandelion, geranium, hibiscus, mallow, marigold, nasturtium, lavender, lilac, pea, peony, primrose, rose, snapdragon, sunflower, tulip, and violet.
Flowers can be added to a salad, as garnish on desserts, frozen in ice cubes, or even put in the cooking. However, remember to always wash the flowers before preparing them. Also be mindful that for some flowers, you can only eat the petals. Below is a helpful chart from Brittany Watson Jepsen that you can read for reference.
We can all do a little something to help the environment. As humans, we are doing more and more damage to our planet by being wasteful and careless with our resources. But it’s easy to make a few slight changes in our everyday life and our habits to make our home a little less straining on our planet.
1. Limit Your Energy Use
Cut down on electricity by switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs. If you’re not a fan of fluorescent light bulbs, switch to using lampshades as your main source of light. It would add ambience to your home without using a lot of energy.
Turn off all unused lights in the house – if you and your housemates are forgetful, install light sensors or automatic timers in each room.
Get unplugged, unplug any electrical appliances that aren’t in use.
Use appliances efficiently such as dryers, heaters, dishwashers and washing machines.
2. Be Mindful Of Your Water Usage
Time your showers and don’t leave taps running when not in use.
Always switch off the tap faucets when handwashing dishes if you’re not rinsing.
Repair and seal all leaks from your home.
3. Grow Plants Indoors
Living plants in your home can act as natural air filters and can absorb harmful pollutants in your home from electronic equipment, furniture and carpets.
Thinking of decorating your workspace? Make sure to consider indoor plants. There are a lot of benefits that come with having greeneries in the office; here are some of them…
A 2014 study at two large commercial offices in the UK and Netherlands found that having more plants at work could increase productivity by 15 per cent. “Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity,” said Marlon Nieuwenhuis, lead researcher of the study. Workers who have plants within their eyesight reported higher concentration levels and better workplace satisfaction. Furthermore, a 2010 study in Norway also found that having plants in view is associated with fewer sick leaves.
Having plants at work can improve your wellbeing. A research by University of Technology Sydney discovered that plants in the offices can reduce anxiety, depression and fatigue by up to 60 per cent. The plants were found to increase positive mood states and comfort level. “This study shows that just one plant per work space can provide a very large lift to staff spirits, and so promote wellbeing and performance,” the research concluded.
Cleaning the air
Having plants at working space can help remove carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or petrochemical vapours from paint, furnishings, plastics or electronic equipment. Chronic exposure to these VOCs can increase fatigue, nausea, drowsiness and physical irritability. Recent study suggests than even just three potted plants can do wonder in reducing VOC levels to a minimum at an average-sized office. More plants mean healthier air, and happier you!
The Internet is a great place to look for inspiration and meet like-minded people, including gardeners. They can not only give you tips and tricks on plant-growing, but also soothe your eyes with beautiful, lush greeneries from their own home for you to enjoy and model after. Here are five best Instagram accounts for gardening and urban farming…
The idea of eating fresh fruits straight from your garden is, of course, appealing – but it can be a bit difficult, considering that our living space is getting smaller and smaller. Luckily, some fruit trees can still produce great crops without taking over all your yard space. Here are some of them:
Nectarine’s small tree grows well in cool and warm temperate areas. However, do keep in mind that it requires a great amount of pruning, fertilizing, thinning and watering!
Also known as Faccia Bella, paradise is a mini-sized variety of pear. The tree produces an abundance of small crops, making it perfect for snacking or as a side meal.
Cherry not only takes up little space, but it is also self-pollinating, making it easy to grow and maintain.
Loch Ness Blackberry
The thornless blackberry can be put on top of archway – they indeed require full sun to grow, too.
Feijoa trees can be used as hedges or makeshift partitions, concealing walls or unwanted views. They grow well with full sun exposure and good drainage.