Hello, Patch!

It's a truth universally acknowledged that plants make you happy. Well, I'm pretty sure it is - I don't have the scientific stats to hand to back me up. But whatever the official word on the matter, I know for me that as I fill my home up with plant babies of varying shapes and sizes, everything just feels fresher, greener and, well, nicer. I used to have a total fear of plants - Which should I pick? Where should I put them? Why won't they stop dying? But thanks to cheerful initiatives such as the #urbanjunglebloggers I've grown in confidence and even kept my plants alive, for the most part. One thing I have struggled with though, is the lack of amazing garden centres in London. That's not to say there aren't any, I know there are a lot of top-notch ones, it's more that there don't seem to be any great ones near my home. And when I find myself without the car a trip out to a nearby garden centre seems daunting - especially if you factor in the return journey on the bus, laden with all the plants that could not be resisted. There are of course many wonderful florists and boutiques selling beautiful plants too, but again these seem to be few and far between in my part of town. And so, when the team at Patch gave me a shout to tell me about their offering, I jumped at the chance to speak with their founder, Freddie, to find out more.

Pictured - my favourite Fiddle Fig plant that I've successfully kept alive!

Pictured - my favourite Fiddle Fig plant that I've successfully kept alive!

Please can you tell me more about Patch and its philosophy?

Whether inside or outside your home or office, Patch helps you discover the best plants for your space, delivers them to your door and helps you look after them. We are looking to fill a gaping hole left by traditional garden centres, which are struggling to deliver value to customers due to rising costs and a slowness to respond to wider consumer trends in retail and online. We are on a mission to transform the UK's gardening market for the digital age by making it easy for people in cities to green up their indoor and outdoor spaces.

For too long, the pleasure of living with plants, whether indoors or outdoors, has been out of reach to young city dwellers. We hope to make it simpler for people to buy the right plants for them and their space. We’re going to use technology to equip them with knowledge, discovery and inspiration and, in turn, provide superb service and convenience. Our aim is to help more people bring their their home or workspace to life with plants..

Patch Urban Gardening interview on Gathered Cheer blog

How does it differ from other online plant sellers?

Back in 2014 I moved in with my girlfriend, and in an effort to put my own stamp on her flat I took on the task of transforming her unloved balcony into a plant-filled oasis. I quickly realised that I’d taken on a bigger challenge than I thought; I was going to have to travel across London to find a garden centre, and once there I wouldn’t know where to begin with choosing plants that were right for the space. Instead I tried looking for a decent online garden centre, but there was nothing out there for an inexperienced urban gardener like myself. In the end I picked up some supermarket plants that died after a few weeks despite my tender care.

While this was going on I heard from friends who had come up against the same problem. That’s where the idea for Patch came from. Lack of experience or living in a city shouldn’t prevent you from getting enjoying all the benefits of living with plants - inside or outside your home or workplace. The way plants are sold and knowledge required to keep them alive in the traditional gardening market is complicated and exclusive, catering to people that measure their space in acres not square feet.

We're trying to make living with and caring for plants as easy as possible to get into. For example, the lingua franca of the traditional gardening market is Latin, which we try to avoid. Instead, we give our plants nicknames that are not only more memorable and familiar, and also reflect the tendency of plant owners to name their own plants. For example, Sansevieria, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is nicknamed Susie after my own mother-in-law!

How do you select what plants make it onto Patch?

We know that people in cities without a lot of experience with plants have a different lifestyles to rural counterparts. To account for this we favour plants that are hardy, as well as good-looking, and can therefore withstand an occasional missed watering or a lack of sunlight. We also stock a lot of plants that purify the air, removing harmful toxins found in polluted cities to make for a healthier home or workspace.

Unlike most large out of town retailers that sell house plants, we only stock plants from growers with the top EU quality rating. This is because we’re in it for the long term with our customers. We know that delivering the healthiest plants possible, alongside our simple care guides and unlimited access to our plant care experts, will make it much more likely that their first urban gardening experience will turn into a lifelong passion.

Patch bathroom collection

What do you say to people who say they always end up killing their plants? Is there hope?

Absolutely. All of us at Patch have a few plant murders in our past, but that’s part of the learning experience. It’s also part of the reason why we offer lifetime plant care support - if you’re worried that your Pippa (Peace Lily) is drooping, or your Chaz (Cheese Plant) is going brown, we can help. We give every new customer access to a free Plant Parenting Course, which consists of up to 20 lessons delivered via email in bite size chunks. All Patch customers can also have a chat with our Plant Rescue Team via our website if things go wrong and their plants need emergency resuscitation. We put together a collection of our toughest houseplants called The (Almost) Unkillables, which are a great starting point for anyone nervous about dipping their toe into plant ownership for the first time.

What are your thoughts on the urban gardening revival?

The traditional gardening market can seem very daunting and inaccessible, so it’s great to see more emphasis on bringing plants into your life regardless of your past gardening experience. It’s particularly important for city-dwellers to try their hand at plant parentship as we spend more than 90% of our time indoors. As well as bringing a touch of nature into your home, some plants filter the air of pollutants that are a more serious issue in cities than suburban or rural areas. For example, in our Air-Purifying collection we’ve got plants that can reduce levels of nasty things like Benzene, Formaldehyde and Carbon Monoxide.

Houseplants are a fantastic way to bring any space to life and make it your own without having to get the builders in, which is particularly relevant in urban areas where the majority of people rent their homes or offices. We have hundreds of professional interior designers as customers and have been featured in a number of top interiors magazines, so it seems that more and more people are realising how easy and effective plants are as living art or furniture - indoor or outdoors.

What unique challenges do urban gardeners face?

Urban gardeners usually measure their space in square feet rather than acres, so have to be strategic about how they use it. You might not have any bright south-facing windows, for example, so have to go for plants that are happier in shade. We think about our collections from different angles to accommodate this. For example, our bedroom collection is full of plants that are good air-purifiers or increase Oxygen levels at night to improve your sleep, but won’t clutter up your space at the same time.

We also get time-poor Londoners asking how much care their plant will need. It’s clear that there’s a lot of anxiety around neglecting your plant, and we often see plant owners overcompensate; when we get questions about why a plant is unhealthy the most common reason is actually  that it has been overwatered! We live such busy lives that  looking after a living thing can seem daunting - but by offering our customers unlimited access to our plant care support team we hope to assure them that it doesn’t need to be.

What are your hot plant picks for 2018? Will succulents and cacti still be faves or is something else coming up to steal their crown?!

Succulents and cacti are always a great option for a lot of people, as they’ll need very little watering. However, I think we’ll see health and wellness trends make their way further into the plant world with an emphasis on the health benefits of living with plants at home or in the office.

Which plants are your faves in the Patch gang?

Big Ken (Howea Forsteriana) is a staple in the Patch plant gang - he has a remarkable ability to transform a room thanks to his statement palm fronds which cast amazing shadows on the wall. On the smaller side, Rapunzel (Golden Pothos) has beautiful heart-shaped leaves that tumble off a bookshelf or from a hanging planter.

Big Ken (Howea Forsteriana) Patch Urban Gardening

Thank you for your time, Freddie! You can find Patch over on their website, and give them a follow over on Instagram too!

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Photo credits // All images courtesy of Patch, except for image 1, which is styled and shot by Ruth Garner for Gathered Cheer. 


Happy Plants

Our green friends have seen a popularity surge of late, and I for one am thrilled about it. Plants bring so much life to any space - so whether you add air plants to your bathroom or succulents to your bedside, every little bit of green helps. For a long time I shied away from plants, in favour of the much more manageable freshly cut flowers, since keeping them alive seemed impossible. My poor track record meant I saw each new plant as a bit of a challenge. I gave each my best shot, watering more (or less) and giving them less direct light (or more). But persevering has meant that now I am a proud and fully signed up plant mama. Our house now has green babies in most rooms, and so far there haven't been any casualties. Phew. My biggest victory to date was finding a fiddle leaf fig plant for the princely sum of £10 - such a bargain for what is a beautiful and bold plant that now takes pride of place in our sitting room. You can get a peek of it in all its glory here.

Happy plants with Homebase | Gathered Cheer blog

Beyond looking lovely, plants really do change the atmosphere in a room. They remove toxins from the air and can help to level up any moisture imbalances too. According to this super handy life improvement guide from Homebase, (see more life improvement guides here), the best plants to remove toxins include ferns, ivies, peace lilies and palms. They're also wonderfully calming, bringing with them a sense of freshness to a room that seems to encourage you to stop and breathe. I for one need the constant reminder to do this.

Happy plants with Homebase | Gathered Cheer blog

l-r: Dracaena warneckii | Leopard lily in anthrazit pot | Maidenhair fern in dark grey ripple pot | Calathea in leaf embossed pot | air plant on stool | trailing ivy on wall

If you are looking to add some green life to your home here are some ideas to get you started...

LOOK FOR VARIETY

Rather than picking a single type, try blending different types of plants in a single space. For my arrangement here, in my sunny bathroom, I picked the more structural and bold XX and matched it with a soft fern and two XX. Showing off a range of structures, size of leaves and colours makes for so much more interest. 

Happy plants with Homebase | Gathered Cheer blog
Happy plants with Homebase | Gathered Cheer blog

DISPLAY HEIGHT

Show of each little leaf to its best advantage by hanging plants and displaying them at different levels. It will make for a brilliant arrangement that catches the eye. Thanks to the super trend that is macramé, hanging plants has never been more on-trend. (Well, since the 70s...) There are lots of super easy tutorials online to teach yourself how to knot like a pro. Or just follow my example and hang a little ivy plant by simple wrapping a length of twine around its pot, and then threading two strands up from the base of the pot, and through the wrapped around twine. So easy and effective!

TAKE CARE

You wouldn't put a sweater in the wash without checking its label, and the same principle goes for your green friends. Some like bright sunshine, others indirect light. Some like to be fed daily, while others prefer once a week. When you pick plants in store, have a read of the label first to check it fits with what you're looking for and then you can be sure you'll have a happy, long-living plant. 

Happy plants with Homebase | Gathered Cheer blog

PICK A POT

You can make a statement depending on the kind of pot you pair with your plant. Go mismatched, pairing bright hues or keep it simple with a single colour - each will create a different feeling. I stayed true to my white and grey obsession by mixing up simple grey pots, on both matte and shiny textures with the oh-so sweet leaf embossed pot. The result is a happy scene in my bathroom, where the pared back pots allow the beauty of the leaves to take centre stage.

Happy plants with Homebase | Gathered Cheer blog

Are you a plant mama? Do you have any secrets to picking plants, or for keeping them alive? Let me know below, or find me on instagram!

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This post was written in collaboration with Homebase, a store I visit more than can be considered healthy, and for it I was given this happy plant family. All opinions are of course my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Gathered Cheer going. 

Photo credits // All shot and styled by Ruth Garner for Gathered Cheer


Urban Jungle Bloggers | Plants & Flowers

It's been a little while since I joined in with an Urban Jungle Bloggers project (see my other contributions here and here) but I'm thrilled to finally be able to get back to it! I always so love seeing what other people do, and when I saw that this month's prompt was 'plants and flowers' I knew I couldn't resist. While plants are a little new to me (I'm still working out how to keep them alive), I've long loved cut flowers. Whether a gift from a friend or loved one, they are always guaranteed to bring a smile to my face. I adore the way cut flowers bring a space to life, with their seasonal hues and scents. I have my favourites - hydrangea, ranunculus, wax flower and peonies. Always peonies. Come autumn/winter I do struggle as I'm not a huge fan of traditionally autumnal tones. So these soft pink lisianthus are ideal, plus they're quite long lasting, so they will be cheering up our sitting room for many more days to come. 

Urban Jungle Bloggers - Plants & Flowers | Gathered Cheer blog

For my plant contribution I had to include my favourite spider plant, grown from a cutting I was given by a lovely friend. To be honest, I'm surprised it's flourishing as I knocked it a fair bit transporting it home in my bag on the tube (oh, London) but now it seems to be sprouting its own spider plant babies. I'm super in love with the home of my spider plant, too. Mr Parsons was found at a charity store for the bargain price of £1. I like his non-plussed 'I'm not impressed' face. I also chose to include the sweet succulent I was given for my birthday. The concrete pot it sits in also adds some nice texture to the fireplace, and keeps the scene from being too twee.

Urban Jungle Bloggers - Plants & Flowers | Gathered Cheer blog

Here's a little look at the scene from further out. While I didn't have too long to spend styling and picking items, it seems that I subconsciously echoed my soft pink throughout - from the art on the wall, to the flowers to the art in the fireplace. The green, pink and white hues make me feel happy and look so cheerful when the sun shines into the sitting room. 

Urban Jungle Bloggers - Plants & Flowers | Gathered Cheer blog

Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly project and you can join in with Judith (Joelix) and Igor (Happy Interior Blog) by using #urbanjunglebloggers on instagram, facebook or twitter. You can see a full round up of the plants and flowers posts here.


Urban Jungle Bloggers | DIY Hanging Air Plants

Happy Tuesday, friends. In the spirit of 'better late than never', I'm delighted to share my contribution to the prompt for February's Urban Jungle Blogger posts - hanging plants. While I've had the project on my to-do list since I received the email way back when, various events have meant that I've only just completed it. 

Delays aside, I am so chuffed with it and the dash of green life it has added to our bathroom. As I mentioned in my previous Urban Jungle Blogger post here, I confessed how succulents and cacti are taking over our home, as they are so easy to care for and bring much life and cheer to any space. But, another plant variety recently caught my eye, and I just had to bring them into our home. Air plants are a miracle. Not needing to be rooted in water or soil, they appear to exist of air alone (they actually don't, but more on that later). Jolly clever, I think you'll agree. 

Urban Jungle Bloggers | Hanging Air Plants | Gathered Cheer

Since they don't love dry environments, I figured the best place for them would be our bathroom. In the bathroom they benefit from shower steam as well as looking sweet on an otherwise plain white wall. And as my copper obsession is showing no signs of abating, I thought I'd tweak a rail from ikea to hang them on. 

Urban Jungle Bloggers | Hanging Air Plants | Gathered Cheer

If you fancy making your own rail of hanging air plants, here's what you need:

A rail and hooks (I opted for this rail and these hooks) | Copper spray paint | Copper couplers (such as these, which I used) | Copper wire | Air plants | Drill | Hacksaw 

Instructions:

  1. Spray the rail and hooks with the copper spray paint. It helps to do this either outside or in a cardboard box, to keep things tidy.
  2. Cut one of your copper couplers in half using a hacksaw (and by fixing it first in a vice to keep your fingers safe!) This is an optional step, I just chose to do it to add a little variety to the hanging copper pieces.
  3. Secure your copper couplers in a vice and drill two holes, one either side, at the top of each coupler.
  4. Thread wire or twine through the holes in the copper couplers, knotting or twisting in place, to create a hanging loop.
  5. Hang these on each of the hooks, on the rail.
  6. Add an air plant in each copper coupler and hey presto - you have an air plant display! 

It's important to note that air plants come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Consider checking the size of your plants, before you buy your copper fittings to ensure a happy fit. 

Urban Jungle Bloggers | Hanging Air Plants | Gathered Cheer

Once they are hung up, it's handy to know how to care for your new green babies. Air plants, also known at tillandsia, are pretty easy to look after, but won't survive on air alone. It's recommended that they are placed away from direct sunlight and heat sources (so, definitely not next to a radiator). But they do like bright, light spaces. So far, mine seem to be thriving in the bathroom - where they can enjoy the steam from our showers. Once a week I also give them a little bath in the sink, ensuring that they dry off afterwards to prevent any rot. If I didn't do this, a quick spritz of water a few times a week would also do the trick. I'm so impressed with how easy they are to keep happy, and every time I pass the bathroom, seeing them on the wall makes me smile!

Urban Jungle Bloggers | Hanging Air Plants | Gathered Cheer
Urban Jungle Bloggers | Hanging Air Plants | Gathered Cheer

Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series and you can join in with Judith (Joelix) and Igor (Happy Interior Blog) by using #urbanjunglebloggers on instagram, facebook or twitter. You can see a full round up of the hanging plants posts here.

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Urban Jungle Bloggers | Plants & Coffee

Happy Friday, friends! Today, I'm delighted to finally be joining in with the Urban Jungle Bloggers series. This monthly project has long caught my eye, as gorgeous, green images fill my instagram and pinterest feeds, but I've been a little slow on the uptake with actually joining in! I love the concept behind the series, celebrating our green friends in our homes - through DIY, styling and other inspiring tips and tricks.

Traditionally, I've been more a fan of cut flowers, since their limited lifespan means that their eventual withering is inevitable. Cheery, I know. With plants however, I feel a tad more responsible for keeping them alive, and I nearly always forget to water them or give them sufficient light. So, I often buy a green leafy friend, who not long after is disposed of in the rubbish. It's all a little sad.

So, imagine my delight when I discovered, through the magic of reading lots of blogs and scouring Pinterest (I'm over here by the way) that there are plants out there which are more hardy. Enter, succulents and cacti. Yes, yes, I know they are a blogger's best friend. And with good reason. They look super cute, they come in all sorts of varieties and are pretty tough to kill. Perfect, right?

My little succulent and cacti babies now sit on most surfaces around our home, but the ones I thought I'd show you today are on my bedside cabinet. You might remember this slightly dire area from my November 'styling the seasons' post. This chest of drawers belongs to the house and not me, so a painting job is sadly not an option. It's always a little tricky to style, as it's in an alcove which seems to throw all sorts of strange shadows into the mix. But, I like having a go at making the most of a space, and this month's urban jungle bloggers gave me the perfect opportunity to change up the surface.

This month's UJB post was all about two wonderful things - plants and coffee. A winning combination. Since I chose to style up my bedside unit, coffee fitted in rather perfectly. As I work from home I'm lucky enough to linger a little longer in bed in the mornings, and that first cup of coffee is always one I savour.  There's happiness for me in the methodical ritual of preparing a cup. I find it wonderfully relaxing to take time over every step, whether it's pre-warming the cups, frothing the milk or grinding the beans. And of course, I think it tastes all the better for it!

So, beside my bed sit all the morning essentials: a good cup of fresh coffee, sugar and a spoon. Plus a little bit of delicious chocolate - total indulgence on a tray. Having my green friends beside my bed brings such cheer to my morning routine. They add life and character to the room and make me smile. The sweet little swan vase is a very recent addition, which I bought in the Oliver Bonas sale for £2.20. I couldn't pass up such a bargain. For this little surface, I took inspiration from all the scandi interiors that I find myself pinning most days. The soft hues of grey, offset with pinks, lots of white and the green of the succulents makes for a calm corner indeed. 

Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series and you can join in with Judith (Joelix) and Igor (Happy Interior Blog) by using #urbanjunglebloggers on instagram, facebook or twitter. You can see a full round up of this month's plants & coffee blog posts here.

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