For the next part in this mini series, I wanted to share some of the design process after my initial visit to Newton House, and the purchasing of the plants for the space. As I alluded to in the previous post, the planning-on-paper side of things was a pivotal part in getting the feel of the room right – I did a number of drawings, some of which you will see below. On any project like this, the main consideration has got to be scale. The conservatory is narrow (6m x 3 m) but tall with a high glass roof so this precluded some low, wide spanning plants as I didn’t think this would suit the shape of the room well.
Before buying any plants I had to consider furniture and if I would need to add any new pieces into the space. I was lucky that the room was already dressed with a few rustic grey pots filled with gravel (more on that in the next post) and white wrought iron garden furniture similar to what might have been used originally – a bench, a chair and side table and a small three tiered plant stand. After moving things around, I decided that aside from being creative with plant stands, it would be better to use as much of the budget as possible on plants and pots. Additionally, as a listed building there were major restraints with attaching anything to walls or the metal structure of the roof, so I knew early on that free standing options would be the way forward.
My initial plant purchases were a couple of dracaena marginata, which I planned to pot together to make a feature opposite the door. I love the dragon tree family; they are classic houseplants which can tolerate a bit of neglect and average temperatures, ideal for a project like this. To create a bit of drama and utilise some of the height in the conservatory, I picked up a cocos nucifera – one of my favourite sculptural plants. I’d happily have one in every room of my apartment if I could! I had a vision of standing it on something to reach over the wrought iron bench.
At this point, I considered Kentia palms, which would have worked really well visually, however decided to stick to more hardy plants as these can crisp up quite quickly without enough humidity. The room has no heating or power to add a humidifier so those factors informed my choices in a big way. Lastly, I got a monstera pertusum to sit in the corner of the room – I thought it would work well to create a block of green foliage to draw the eye into the space and to contribute to a feeling of the tropical.
Next, it was time to source the small and medium sized plants that would fill up the space. During this time, my apartment started to feel a bit like a jungle as I stored them before taking them to Newton House (see photos above). I did a lot of driving back and fore to places in my MINI cooper – and you can’t fit many plants in there…though surprisingly I managed to fit the monstera and cocos in! I wanted to carry out the first phase of the plant installation over one weekend, so hired a van and filled it with the majority of the plants.
Hope you enjoyed this instalment of the project, next I will show a behind the scenes of the installation process…and its accompanying challenges!
Thanks for reading!