Houseplant inspo: How these Kiwis fill their jungle-like homes with lush greenery
These two houseplant devotees find calmness and joy from decorating their spaces with flora.
Words and photos: Liz Carlson
Hollie’s tiny house
Where: Katikati, Bay of Plenty
Tucked away among the rolling golden hills and orchards of inland Bay of Plenty, you’ll find the cutest tiny home that moonlights as a jungle for most of the year. Hollie calls it home, along with three adorable dogs, two miniature goats (usually up to no good), two happy cats and one big kunekune pig. And did I mention the hundreds of houseplants and a fiancé?
Slow, conscious living manifests in this home Hollie literally built herself. Every plant has its place, and everything comes together to create a lush living wonderland that’s all of 20 square metres. We all know the cost of living in New Zealand is nothing short of shocking, so no wonder the tiny-house movement is booming.
When Hollie first moved in, she was gifted a peace lily, which ultimately died. Without the greenery, the tiny home felt a little less homey, which inspired Hollie to try again with an olive tree. The rest is history! She learned to be less of a helicopter plant mum and to let the plants do their thing, avoiding overwatering and allowing them to grow and mature on their own. Now hundreds of stunning specimens dot the corners of the tiny home, spilling over shelves and hanging from the ceilings. By maximising the height of the home, it still feels bright, airy and open.
Inspired by the incredible Philodendron melanochrysum on display at the Begonia House at the Wellington Botanic Garden, Hollie has finally acquired a mature specimen of her own, which now stands tall as a feature plant by the kitchen.
For Hollie, houseplants have helped her craft a truly relaxing home environment, where she can unwind, switch her brain off and get off her phone, something perhaps we can all relate to. In many ways, she reckons plants do more for us than we do for them, especially when it comes to well-being.
Moira’s groovy conservatory
Is there anything better than seeing a plant person truly make the most of their plant-filled house? Moira’s home on Auckland’s North Shore was made for plants; they’re literally spilling from the untouched 1970s-style conservatory into the garden, hidden by a local reserve. Tūī sing in the trees as begonias the size of dinner plates shimmer in the summer sunlight. If this isn’t Eden, I don’t know what is.
Born in small-town South Africa, Moira nurtured an affinity for the natural world, collecting insects in jars and keeping fish in aquariums, convinced she would one day grow up to be a vet. A celebrated wedding photographer, her love for nature grew with a collection of houseplants back in South Africa, starting with a single jade pothos and Monstera deliciosa back in 2014.
Moira and her partner immigrated to New Zealand a few years ago in search of a happier and safer lifestyle, and it was only then that her passion for plants truly grew. We all know how stressful moving can be, and moving overseas, away from family, combined with a pandemic, meant so many of us were confronted with stresses we hadn’t encountered before.
Plants had a positive impact on Moira’s life as she settled here in New Zealand. She even purchased a plant before buying any furniture. While settling in, Moira threw herself into plants, allowing herself to be enveloped by the lessons they offer, the mindfulness and calm they instil, and the beauty they create. They breathe life into her space.
The feeling of home and ease that plants give off is a core part of Moira’s incredible indoor jungle. In many ways, it feels like you’ve stepped into their world, and you are the addition, not the plants. Passionate about making places cosy and inviting, Moira is drawn towards warm colours that complement the green of her jungle, allowing the plants to craft the flow of the space.
Patience is key when it comes to nurturing an indoor garden; plants are good reminders that nothing is predictable. In a true parallel with life, Moira has learned to let the plants grow how they want to, quietly coexisting with them and caring for them in the background.
Extracted from Houseplants and Design: A New Zealand Guide. Text and images by Liz Carlson. RRP $45. Out 1 November. Published by Allen & Unwin NZ.