Very tetchy Echeveria

echeveria close-up

Houseplant Hour: Echevaria

Counter to what the name might suggest our next succulent is not as prickly as its thorny peers, but just as chubby and charming.

The Echeveria, a rosette forming succulent, belongs to the Crassulaceae family and is native to the arid areas of Central America. Echeverias are closely related to Graptopetalum, and have been hybridized to form the Graptoveria. They’re so similar in fact that you’ll have a hard time telling the difference. In any event, these fat fingered succulents make very popular houseplants, due to their hardiness and beautiful colours.

Bunch of echeverias

Care: Echeverias like dry air and plenty of sun, so position them in spots where they get loads of sunlight for most of the day. They require well draining potting soil in containers that drain thoroughly.

Water: Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering. This will depend on the location of your plant and the conditions of your home so stick your finger in the soil to make sure it’s bone dry before you give it a good watering. During the winter months they require even less water. As with most succulents overwatering will cause your plants to rot.

Propagation: Echeveria’s produce offsets or baby plants that you’ll see popping up around the parent. Carefully pull these out and replant them. You can also propagate them by laying leaf cuttings on top of the soil. Sometimes plants can grow heavy and break off when you handle the pot. Simply stick them back in some soil and they should take again.

Wonderful green hues from BHG
Wonderful green hues from BHG

This large genus of succulents produce a myriad of colour varieties that can range from turquoise to a light lime or mint. These cool hues are perfect for creating a calm and tranquil atmosphere in your home. Some species have magical gradients like light green to pink or purple. Use these tones together for a surprising colour scheme that’s a perfect balance of serenity and zeal.triptych of echeveria

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Fiery pink works surprisingly well alongside cool tranquil greens on beppebrancato.com

pink echeverias

Add a sense of luxury with green velvets alongside light orangey pinks.
Add a sense of luxury with green velvets alongside light orangey pinks.

Venice | A trip to the Biennale (All the world’s futures)

Close-up of Venice Canal

 

la Biennale di Venezia

 

Cobblestoned footpaths down dimly lit alleys, crossing quaint little bridges of opaque teal water … Few cliches more aptly describe their subjects than the ones depicting the ancient city of Venice.

 

Late night stroll to the fruit market in Venice
Captivating beauty of Venice at night

 

And the water-bus from the airport only adds to the allure once you finally set foot on the historic island. A trip to the Biennale (All the world’s futures) allowed me this magical visit, and so I was doubly delighted, first by the romance and splendour of the city, and second, by the spectacular displays at the la Biennale di Venezia.

 

Old school lamp in Venice

 

The Biennale

Like Alice I wandered into a land of wonder, of pearls and dragons and critical expressions of our current world state. Karo Akpokiere’s “Zwischen Lagos und Berlin made me humble and homesick through his themes of social inequalities and cultural juxtapositions. The “dead” flags in Ivan Grubanov’s United Dead nations for the Serbian pavilion delivered a beautifully dismal display of the notion of nations. On a brighter–much yellower–note; Great Britain’s Sarah Lucas had me itching for wanting to touch her oh-so-smooth er … could it be penises?

 

Experiencing Antonio Manuel's Occupations/Discoveries at the Venice Bienale
Experiencing Antonio Manuel's Occupations/Discoveries
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Deep Cream Maradona by Sarah Lucas
flags
Ivan Grubanov’s UNITED DEAD NATIONS, Installation at Venice Art Biennale 2015

 

The city

The World Heritage site dating back to the 10th century BC, is actually a group of small islands (118) connected by footbridges. It’s enjoyed wealth through most of it’s history due to it’s maritime power and commerce. The resulting grand and majestic architecture (Venetian Gothic architecture) effectively obscures the fact that their foundations are wooden piles of alder trees, that have been submerged in the ocean for centuries.

 

Venice in the day time
The teal colours of the Venice canal

 

There’s just so much to say about Venice that I’m thinking of doing a follow up post later. But here’s a quick round-up of my experience so you have something to go on should you decide to visit:

Sleeping: I can really recommend the airbnb apartment hosted by Silva Farina. The immaculate and elegantly decorated apartment in Castello is perfectly located, only 5 mins away from the Biennale, but central enough to the rest of the islands so we could do all our exploring on foot.

Eating: Suggested to us by Marie from Stil in Berlin, the Osteria il paradiso perduto at Fondamenta della Misericordia, 2540 – 30100, did not fail to deliver on its promise. Here you’ll experience culinary delight in both their seafood and vegetarian dishes.

Drinking: Vino Vero is a charming wine bar we stumbled across in Cannagerio 2497, that draws you in with its cheerful character and keeps you there with its impeccable selection of wines.

 

Aloe Vera houseplant

Aloe Vera Close-up

 

Aloe Vera

 

It’s speckled tentacles reach and bend like the liquid legs of a giant Octopus and yet this prickly pirate lives far from the sea and don’t swim well at all. The Aloe Vera, a short stemmed succulent, is cultivated throughout the world and widely regarded for its medicinal and cosmetic qualities.

 

Aloe Vera belongs to the largest succulent genus Aloe, which encompasses an elephantine number (450) of species! These are widely distributed across sub saharan Africa in dry climates with little rainfall so it’s no wonder a potted aloe adds instant warmth to indoor spaces.

 

Aloe Vera pot plants
Aloe vera potplant

Aloe vera in Terrakotta pots

 

Common names: Aloe barbadensis, Aloe Vera, Aloe vulgaris, Medicinal Aloe

Care: Plant your Aloe in well draining potting soil with corse grit or sand in a container that drains very well. I prefer keeping succulents in plastic containers inside terra-cotta pots as they drain far better this way. Keep them in sunny, bright areas, but preferably away from direct sunlight.

Water: Give the soil a thorough soak then allow it to dry out completely between watering to assure the roots do not rot. Test if it is dry by sticking your finger deep into the soil (about 4cm). In winter they need less water so be very careful of over-watering your Aloe. It can be anything between 1-4 weeks.

Propagation: Aloe’s produce offsets or baby plants that you’ll see popping up around the parent. Allow them to grow a couple of centimetres to ensure they develop a stable root system of their own. You can easily separate them by holding them closely to their roots and pulling them out gently. Be careful not to tug too roughly, you don’t want the roots to break off. Plant them into a similar potting mix and leave in a bright sunny location.

 

Propagating an Aloe Vera
Propagating an Aloe Vera

 

I’m fond of these nuggets not only because they grow so easily and proliferate so well, but they’re said to be superb air purifiers – releasing oxygen and absorbing CO2 at night. And although they’re not entirely as majestic as the Aloe Ferox, they do bring a little bit of South Africa into my Berlin home.

 

Aloes from the top 

STORY + PHOTOS: BARBARA CILLIERS

 
 

Home-made christmas

DIY Christmas wreath

These days the spirit of christmas is captured in mass produced tinsel and coca-cola smiles. Malls are hanging baubles in October and countdowns to xmas-delivery prompt us to spend spend spend! It will probably not surprise you that an estimated 60% of the world Christmas decorations are made in China (Yiwu), with some workers putting in 12 hour shifts for as little as 45p per hour! So in this post let’s celebrate a hand-made christmas. Let’s go back to nature and use what we have.

Green Christmas Cheat 01: Make your own wreaths 

It’s actually so simple. Use a piece of wire that you can easily bend into a circle (like a wire hanger). Get a bunch of holly and a nice long Eucalyptus branch (or any type of long leafy branch) and wrap them around the wire. I found it easier to first make the wire into a circle and then adding the plants. The girls from Treasures and Travels have excellent step-by-step images of how how to make one.

Christmas wreath by Treasures & Travels
Christmas wreath by Treasures & Travels

Step-by-step diy xmas wreath

Green Christmas Cheat 02: Branches in a pot

This is probably the easiest way you can bring christmas into your home. Use a beautiful pot with an interesting branch. It can be any branch, even dead ones you find in the park!

Christmas Branches in beautiful pots
Branches in beautiful pots. Find more beautiful examples like the ones on the left on trendspanarna.nu
branches in pots
More bottled inspiration

branch in a potGreen Christmas Cheat 03: Use what you have

When you decorate your table, use the plates you have. Don’t worry if they don’t all match. Combine different colours to add interest, but follow a pattern so that it looks deliberate. Candles are perfect center pieces; put them on upside-down side plates to catch dripping wax and tie a branch or ribbon around it to make it christmassy.

Christmas table settingsChristmas table 2015

simple_tablesetting
I really love this simple table setting by bestdayever

Green Christmas Cheat 04: Never buy wrapping paper again

I love beautifully wrapped gifts, and even more so, wrapping them! But sadly, wrapping paper is such a waste of money and resources. If you don’t re-use it (and most people probably don’t) it just ends up in the dust bin, and often one that doesn’t go to the recycling depot. It’s actually far more fun to just create your own. Plus, its SO simple. I never buy wrapping paper. I save the brown paper that amazon uses when they ship large things (like cat litter) to my house or I just use scrap paper from the printer drawer or old magazines. Let me show you how easy it is:

Beautifully wrapped giftDIY wrapping paper tutorial

Wishing you a very merry christmas everybody!!

Delicious Monsters aka Monstera deliciosa

Close-up of monstera deliciosa

 

Monstera deliciosa

 

I am quite obsessed with houseplants, and there’s one particular guy that I simply cannot get enough of; with it’s massive leaves and funny tentacles the Monstera Deliciosa or Philodendron Pertusum is quite a character.

 

Monstera deliciosa
Close-up of Monstera deliciosa

 

There’s something about them that’s simply captivating. Perhaps it’s their allusion to the tropics or the sense of humour they embodythat swiss cheese smile and goofy elegance. Paradoxes aside though, this hardy philly will liven up any room, even if you forget to water it sometimes.

Description: The monstera is a member for the arum family Araceae. This climbing plant is native to the tropical rainforests from southern Mexico to southern Colombia and has large leathery green heart shaped leaves. Adult leaves develop holes and split edges that protect them from strong tropical winds (in their native environment) and can measure up to 45cm when grown indoors, giving them a beautiful sculptural quality.

Common Names: monstera deliciosa, splitleaf philodendron, philodendron pertusum, swiss cheese plant, monster fruit (to name a few)

 

Swiss cheese plant also known as  a monsteria
Monstera deliciosa in the home
Home with pretty Monstera
The home of Christopher Bastin for Åhléns Magazine from petrabindel.com

Location: Medium brightness. Bright location away from direct sunlight. Your plants will quickly show you when they’re happy or not with their location. A happy plant will grow big and look healthy. A sad one will look dull and remain small. Watch your plants closely to judge wether they’re comfortable in their spot, but be careful not to move it around too often, the monstera doesn’t like to travel.

Water: Once a week to once every 10 days.

Notes: Super poisonous! Best to keep them away from children and pets.

I absolutely cannot imagine a house without plants. However, if you cannot seem to keep plants alive no matter how hard you try, try adding some tropical greenery with illustrated artwork, fabrics or wallpaper.

Botanical wallpaper on etsy with tropical split leaf philodendron and monstera delisciosa
Botanical wallpaper on etsy

Bohemian Rhapsody

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I have a soft spot for bohemian interiors. The earthy tones take me back home, to the highveld bush and Soutpansberg sunsets. But I’m perhaps even more partial to it because it so aptly describes my sister … a free spirit who’s homes are always filled with plants, rugs, patterns and colour.

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When it comes to creating this look you almost cannot have too many plants, rugs, patterns and colour. It’s a layered approach; textures over textures, pattern over pattern. What’s great about it is the fact that it works so well for both busy-, collector personalities as well as simplistic- less-is-more types. It’s also a great way to add colour without a drop of paint–although you want to opt for earthy, dirty tones and lift them up with a single bright spot colour.

Rattan and vintage furniture works super well with this style, so it’s a great approach if you’re decorating on a budget and shopping at thrift stores. Having said that, it’s important to use good quality pieces, like kilim or berber rugs so it doesn’t look dated and stale. Combine wooden surfaces with rough textures such as woven baskets, skins and scatter cushions or soften the look with a fluffy throw over tan leather.

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Accessorise with found objects like straw hats, an old guitar/ukulele or wooden sculptural pieces. Philodendrons make perfect plant companions with their dark jumbo leaves. To finish it off, add visual height by hanging planters with long leafy greenery like string of pearls or trailing jade.

Create the look: Bohemian

style variants

I found some other great examples of this style–each with a slightly different character–to demonstrate how versatile this look can be. Click on the images to see each blog post; they’re all terrific!

Bohemian bedroom with geometric bedding, guitars and plants
Bohemian bedroom: plants like Philodendron Xanadu & Fiddle Leaf Fig + geometric fabric + guitars + wood – from gravity-gravity.tumblr.com

 

New Darlings - Living Room
Boho living room: tan leather + geometric rug + wood + plants + colourful scatter cushions + woven basket – from New Darlings

 

Alea & Joy dining room
Bohemian dining room: Plants + terracotta + wood + geometric rug + sheep wool – from DesignSponge

 

Neutral coloured boho chic living room
Neutral coloured boho chic: tan + geometric rug + leather + wood + plants + geometric pillows – from Kitka

 

Bohemian terrace
Bohemian Veranda: Wood + plants + rattan + colourful geometric pillows – from myscandinavianhome

 

Any other ideas for styling your space bohemian? Leave a reply, I’m keen to hear your thoughts!

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