Inside the home of a ‘plant-obsessed’ Australian woman who filled her city apartment with 150 plants

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A young woman has turned her city apartment into a lush green jungle by filling her home with more than 150 plants – and earned 35,000 online fans along the way. 

Interior enthusiast Rachel Smiles has been furnishing the shelves and corners of her Sydney flat with a plethora of potted and hanging plants since 2018, when her collection began as she started swapping synthetic greenery for the real deal.

‘I decided I was finally grown up enough to replace a plastic plant with a real plant…and there the obsession started with one plant, then 20, then over 100,’ she said in interview with indoor plant specialists Jungle Collective on Facebook.

The green-fingered decorator has brought a sense of the outdoors, indoors, with every inch of available space overflowing with plants in a kaleidoscope of green. 

Bright emerald vines tumble from book cases, whose shelves are stacked to capacity with olive cacti and a variety of native Australian succulents.

Pickle coloured plants with enormous leaves are draped on top of each other across the living room, while small shrubs sitting in golden pots provide a pop of colour amidst the green. 

Even the balcony is bedecked, with narrow window boxes lining the ledge and bulky black containers stuffed with stems of bamboo littered across the floor. 

Ms Smiles shares plant care and interior design tips on her website, Lush Little Jungle, including advice on keeping gardens healthy during intense heatwaves like those Australia has faced over the past three months.

Her favourite plant is a Philodendron Gloriosum, a crawling plant native to Colombia with pastel green, heart-shaped leaves that are soft and velvety to touch.

When she hosted a dinner on Christmas Eve, her friends shimmied to their seats past layers of eucalyptus leaves, homemade pots of mini-succulents and delicate lengths of feather grass.

Ms Smiles’ is flattered when people comment on her plant collection, especially guests who liken her home to a nursery or garden warehouse.

‘I never grow tired of hearing that one!’ she said.

For ease of rearrangement, she recommends keeping plants in their plastic nursery pots rather than transplanting into heavier, decorative containers which are more difficult to move.

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