Why Plants are Important
Spiritual Energy, Well Being, and Clean Air
This time of year, just before spring, in the Lion stage of March before it turns into a Lamb and our world becomes alive again, I crave all things green and make excuses to visit the commercial greenhouses and public botanical gardens just so I breath and feel balanced and whole. The Japanese call this practice “Forest Bathing” or “Shin-rin-yoku” and it is subscribed by physicians for stress management. I love plants and chose to have them as part of my life, they are sentient in ways people don’t fully understand. They make the best roomates and companions, they don’t talk too much, they let you watch what you want on TV and they won’t drink your beer (wine).
We opened Rose Red & Lavender to celebrate life’s celebrations with natural, organic floral decor and to educate people about plants and how to grow them. Having a degree in Chemistry and Biology causes me to be a little nerdy when it comes to the importance of plants in our lives. I am also sensitive to them and love to communicate with them. There is some science here, and some hippy dippy new agey stuff, they are both an important part of this dialog, so please forgive me.
The amount of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) in the air is the highest it has been in 3 million years, according to a 2013 New York Times article. Rising levels of CO2 create phenomimes like ultra cold winters and Super storms like Sandy and Irene. Scientists predict that there is more to come. Plants play an important part of our world and the more green we have the better off we will be.
Plants have a certain energy that if you are tuned to it, you can almost communicate with them. Whenever I talk to people who aren’t sensitive to this they think I am nuts. We have an spathiphyllum at home that visibly perks up when you give it praise and talk to it, my kids love playing with her.
A wonderful book called “The Secret Life of Plants”, by Christopher Bird and Peter Tompkins that explains very well how plants communicate. Here are some wonderful Ted Talks and a documentary called “How Plants Communicate & Think – Amazing Nature” by the BBC that is absolutely fascinating and provocative.
In addition to Oxygen, plants also release Phytoncides and chemicals such as limonene and pinene those who like to smoke a little green may be familiar with these. These chemicals help people to lower their heart rates, have lower concentration of cortisol and boost their immunity. People who have plants and flowers in their hospital rooms heal 30% faster. If plants were a drug, they would be approved by the FDA. Here are some hospitals designed to help you heal faster. Features like rooftop gardens, living walls and forested walkways play an important part of the design.
In the workplace, plants also help employees to remain focused at work and have a happier outlook and balance.
The Victorian Love Affair with Plants
Plants are great air cleaners. It isn’t a surprise that the infatuation with plants grew at the same time that we started using toxic coal to heat our homes. Look around at the architecture from that time period, the huge bay windows and parlor conservatories. Homes were designed to invite nature indoors. Bay windows with windows on three sides offer abundant light and a perfect place to grow plants.
Take a look at these victorian weddings and the amount of plants that surround everyone. I love the garland that is used as a rope to keep the admiring crowds at bay.
Some of the more popular plants of the time were abutilons, jasmine, fuchsias, citrus plants, the cast iron plant and of course boston ferns or palms.
Plants in Our Homes and Offices
Plants that Clean the Air
NASA, and particularly Bill Wolverton have done a lot of studies on air cleaners and plants. Click here for the link.
One potted plant is enough to scrub 100 square feet, or one, super small New York City bedroom.
Not only do plants take in excess CO2, they also clean toxins such as benzene, xylene, toluene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. Chemicals that are found in dry cleaning, off gassing from paint and Ikea furniture, photo copies and printed materials and synthetic carpeting.
Plants clean the air and help to regulate humidity making us feel more comfortable on hot days and less reliant on air conditioning.
It is NASA’s recommendation to use 15 to 18 plants in six to 8” pots to clean an 1,800 square foot home.
Top 10 Air Cleaners For you Home and office
Heart-leaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens ‘oxycardium”)
A medium sized plant, releases moisture into the air. It is an easy plant and enjoys part sun and temperatures of 65-75 degrees.
Lady Palm (Rhapsis excelsa)
This is a slow growing, easy plant that resists pests and enjoys part sun.
Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
This palm can grow up to 6’ high and is more effective than the areca and lady palm at removing airborne toxins. It does enjoy a brighter light.
Rubber Plant (Ficus Robusta)
The rubber plant can tolerate lower indoor temperatures and is great at removing formaldehyde. This is a must for people who are exposed to cigarette smoke or people that live in new construction.
Draceana “Janet Craig” (Draceana deremensis “Janet Craig”)
Also known as the Corn Plant is a leafy green plant that is great at removing trichloroethylene from the air. This chemical is emitted by photocopiers and drycleaning. It lives in part sun and is a great plant for offices.
English ivy (Hedera helix)
English Ivy is a vining plant that is good at removing formaldehyde from the air. It would enjoy a little time outside in the late spring, early fall as it likes a little cooler temperatures at night (50-60 degrees)
Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
A cousin of the middle eastern Date Palm, this dwarf variety grows up to 6’ tall. It thrives without much light and can survive for decades. It is great at removing xylene, which is a byproduct of calk, adhesives, paint, and particle board (Ikea Furniture). It is a great plant for someone who has recently remodeled, lives in new construction or has a lot of new furniture.
Ficus benjamina (Ficus benjamina)
The ficus is a versatile plant that can be shaped as a bush or a tree. It is one of my favorite plants. They do have a habit of shedding their leaves until they adapt to a new space, once settled, they will last for years and are very easy to care for.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”)
This fern has lush, green fronds and can be placed on a table or in a hanging basket. It is great at removing chemicals and humidifying but needs a little more attention. This is one plant that LOVES to be misted and talked to, a great substitute for a pet.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
This plant is one of the few that are easy to bloom indoors. It is easy to care for and very adaptable to different situations.
Romantic Garden Venues
The first marriage, Adam and Eve was held in a garden.
Because of the Victorian love affair with plants, we have the gift of the wonderful, romantic botanic gardens and conservatories that were built at that time.
Being surrounded by beautiful greenery is a wonderful way to celebrate a marriage. If you have read “The Secret Life of Plants”, I am sure that you believe that the plant feel all the love and are giving you great energy and good wishes.
This beautiful educational farm is also the host to James Beard award winning chef Dan Barber from Blue Hill. Almost all the food you have there is grown on the farm. It feels like a french country estate and reminds me very much of a chateaux farm that one would find in Belgium or France. I love weddings there.
It is very popular in the warmer months, but the stunning architecture and abundant indoor space make it a perfect venue for cold weather weddings as well.
This stunning beaux arts venue is not on a lot of people’s lists.
The grand entrance has a beautiful fountain with wonderfully landscaped terraces. Peacocks roam freely and there is romantic old world atmosphere.
Cocktail hour is held on a patio next to a promenade and the sea lions.
The reception is in a beautiful wood paneled hall with murals of animals. It feels like you are in a victorian hunting club, in a good way. Part of the proceeds from your wedding goes to support the WFC which is a great cause if you love the environment and all the creatures who love there.
The Grande Dame of Botanic Gardens in New York City.
The New York Botanic garden has extensive grounds with beautiful architecture.
The promenade between the two large conservatories is full of old stones, moss and verdant opulence.
The best place for a reception is the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. In warmer weather you can put up a tent behind it and invite up to 1000 of your closes friends and family. Not to worry though, there are smaller venues scattered througout that comfortable fit 80-150 people.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden located next to Prospect Park is a victorian era public garden with soaring conservatories a healthy educational program and dozens of beautiful locations for a wedding ceremony.
One of my favorite places there is the Japanese Cherry Blossom Esplanade. If you are lucky enough to get married in May it is absolutely stunning.
Situated at the top of a cliff in Riverdale in the Bronx, wave hill is an old estate mansion with public botanic gardens. The venue has several outdoor areas that are perfect for a garden wedding and a beautiful gothic hall that makes a wonderful location for a reception.
If you haven’t been to visit, it is a great location for an afternoon picnic and stroll through the grounds. While it is not the largest botanical garden in New York, it does offer a comfortable setting with majestic Hudson River views.
I hope that you do choose to have plants be a part of your life. In the end this symbiotic relationship will make you a happier, healthier and more spiritually grounded person.