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I'm dreaming of a green Christmas

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Forget about white - we are all about the green Christmas here at Terrace! Between the most gorgeous indoor plants and the most elegant of accessories and decor, we've got you sorted for Christmas. 

We of course would always LOVE to receive indoor plants for Chrissy but we also think they are pretty much the ideal gift for anyone - unique, beautiful, unexpected, and life-affirming. What better way to celebrate than with something that will literally breathe new life into one's home.

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Whether you’re choosing for your fussiest friend – the one with immaculate taste and a perfectly curated house – or for that mate for whom “interior styling” is a foreign concept, a beautiful indoor plant or selection of plants is the perfect gift. For your style savvy friends and family, indoor plants present a whole new opportunity for creating interest and stories within a space. Go for a sculptural monstera in an elegant planter or a collection of small succulents in gem-like pots – either way, they will be delighted with the chance to rearrange shelves, shift tables, and reposition décor to make their beautiful new arrival at home. Add one of these charming watering cans to the picture, and having a green thumb never looked more stylish.

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For your not so fashion-forward friend, a gorgeous indoor plant is the perfect way for them to inject fresh life into their space with very little fuss. Send them here for easy tips on styling with indoor plants and start them with a lovely pothos which, being sturdy and low light tolerant, are easy to care for. They are excellent air filters also and will give the place a good “clean” while sitting there looking pretty! A ficus robusta is similarly hardy though remind them not to over water it or put it in the way of a cold draft. Its broad shiny leaves are best kept dust free so include a water mister - this one is so beautiful that even the laziest house keeper will look forward to spritzing with abandon!

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Contrary to popular belief, many indoor plants are surprisingly robust. Choose well, and your gift will last for a long, long time. Remember that many people are going away over the holidays, however. We recommend you give them a little set of instructions to keep their plant happy (we can let you know what the plant will need) while they are gone or else volunteer to babysit the plant until they are back.

Pop into the store to check on these on trend and now available indoor plants:

  • Monstera – its distinctively elegant leaves are loved by gardeners and artists alike so much so that the monstera has reached the status of iconic plant. Made famous by Matisse, they are an always welcome addition to any space.
  • Calathea – often called a peacock plant for its beautiful variety of rich colours and leaf patterns, this hardy indoor plant is rarely attacked by pests and likes a well-lit spot away from direct sunlight. Mist it regularly to recreate the tropical atmosphere it thrives in but don’t over water it.
  • Philodenron Xanadu – its gorgeously decorative leaves are the perfect combination of lush and tough. This tropical plant will thrive in plenty of natural light, well-drained soil, and plenty of added compost.
  • Strelitzia Nicolia – this striking plant can grow quite large but will be happy indoors if kept away from the cold and treated with slow-release fertiliser. Its stunning flowers give it the common name of Bird of Paradise and it adds real tropical drama to any room.

If your friend's home is already a veritable greenhouse of foliage then choose from our selection of stunning new arrivals for the perfect plant pot, stand or accessory. Our favourites for creating the perfect urban oasis include this elegant crescent stand, these gorgeous hanging arrow planters, the contemporary banjo pots, and the charming pocket planter.

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Stealing Santa's thunder has never been easier! See you in store. 

How to style with indoor plants..

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I can’t imagine my home without plants in it.

They are as much a part of my space as chairs or paintings or floor rugs. Show me a green-free room and watch me start to twitch with the anticipation of filling it up with a little chlorophyll.  I don’t have a green thumb so much as a green mind set!

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But for a lot of people, introducing greenery to your interiors can be a little intimidating. The added responsibility of keeping something alive while also making it look stylish can seem challenging. But don’t worry – it doesn’t have to be the Amazon jungle in there. A few well-placed pots can be the difference between a blank canvas and a room that shimmers with colour and life.

 If you’re feeling a little cautious, why not start with some small succulents? They are hardy little things and can be beautifully sculptural or quite quirky and charming. If you build up a collection in a variety of different sized pots, they are conveniently mobile so you can move them around as you wish – tuck them into bookshelves, have them keep you company at your work desk, let them freshen up the bathroom, or bathe in sunlight on a window sill. I especially like to use metallic pots or pots with a glossy sheen to them for my smaller plants – they gleam and reflect light in a way that can make even the dimmest corner glow. They needn’t look fussy. Just make sure you take them out of their plastic container, pop them in something lovely, and keep them clean – a dusty, cobweb covered succulent is a sad sight indeed.

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I love to use them as a table centre piece instead of cut flowers. They have an organic and earthy feel which can make for an elegant and sophisticated look. For the table setting below, I’ve played with quite a limited colour palate – blues, greens, a dab of yellow – for a jewel-like effect. I find it best to stay away from a uniform look – pot your succulents in a range of differently sized pots and don’t be afraid to mix a plain ceramic pot with something a little more elaborate. It can make for an intriguing visual story.

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If you’ve got light and space to play with, go bold with a large planter pot and a luxuriant Calathea or Begonia rex with its beautiful wide leaves and tinges of pink or the graphic, glossy lobed leaves of the ever popular monstera. Use this largest plant as the central piece around which to gather a “family” of different sized plants. Steer clear of placing two or more of the same or same sized plant next to each other and avoid having a tiny pot lost or towered over by much bigger pieces. Again, it’s fun to experiment with a range of heights and pot shapes – the clean white curve of a big planter can be complimented by a couple of smaller pieces in neutral tones  and using a stool, plinth or stand can be a stylish way to create different levels.

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There is something quite magical about hanging plants and, because they don’t take up any floor space, they can usually find a home in even the smallest room. I’m a particular fan of the Devcils Ivy or Scindapsis. With its trailing vine of foliage, it can be such an elegant way to add greenery to a space. You can arrange in much the same way as you would with fairy lights by trailing it over small hooks along the wall or ceiling.

 

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A hanging pot of rhipsalis or Ceropegia - Chain of hearts is a lovely way to introduce a waterfall of draped greenery and they have the added advantage of being relatively low maintenance. I’m a macramé devotee from way back and a macramé hanger for your pot is a great way to add a little bohemian moment to your greenery in a way that is hip rather than hippie.

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Just as you would with any other aspect of your home, have a play and experiment with your indoor plants – move them around (they’ll like that anyway depending on where the sun is shining), place them a different heights, see where they seem happiest and look most at home. Remember, there’s no need to confine them to tables or corners - put some pots on the staircase, hang them above the bath tub, nestle them among the pots and pans in your kitchen. In no time, they will become as essential to you as your couch or a favourite painting, and, like me, you'll be hooked forever on green.

To take a guided video tour through my home and get some more plant tips check out : In My Place on Realestate.com.au

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 Photography by : Melissa Mylchreest

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Out, damn pest! Three common indoor plant pests and how to send them packing

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Just as outdoor gardens are subject to all kinds of unwelcome pesky visitors, so too are indoor plants, and while they might not be as big and furry as the average herb-annihilating urban possum, they can be just as destructive. There is nothing more frustrating than the sight of clusters of mealy bugs and spider mites on your lovingly tended orchids or ficus. But once you have spotted them, it’s best to act fast and act decisively to get rid of them.

There are all kinds of products on the market that will eliminate such nasties but there are also some easy and less chemical DIY approaches to pest elimination that will be just as effective. Here are three of our most detested plant pests and some sure fire ways to make sure they get out and stay out.

Aphids

Ugh. I can stand these little buggers. They are very small, pear-shaped soft-bodied bugs that collect in large groups on the underside of leaves or new growth and can be amazingly resilient. They can be white, black, brown, grey, furry, yellow or pink but their tiny size can make them hard to spot until they are well and truly ensconced. They feed on plant juice from the stem, flower, fruit, root or buds of a plant and can cause deformation, yellowing and stunted growth. See what I mean? Nasty!

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Like many other pests, they produce a waste called honeydew which can attract other insects and cause mould on the plant. Honeydew can actually be a helpful sign that all is not well with your plant. If there is a sticky layer on the floor or pot around your plant, chances are it’s honeydew and you need bring in the big guns. So to speak.

  • Try spraying cold water on the leaves to dislodge them or for a larger infestation dust the plants with flour which gives the aphids constipation. Ha! Take that!
  • You can also wipe or spray the leaves with some water mixed with dishwashing detergent or, for more of a kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • The organic chemicals in Neem oil can be a very effective pest repellent but, as with any insecticide, be aware that it may also discourage the presence of beneficial insects in your garden.
  • A combination of essential oil including peppermint, clove, rosemary and thyme is another effective way to kill aphids and their larvae

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Spider mites

Spider mites are spider-like in the sense that they create a fine, silk web that can cover an entire plant. Spider mites also cause small yellow and brown spots on the leaves and can eventually cause a plant to deteriorate and die. Again, the little buggers are teeny weeny making it very hard to spot them until they’ve started doing some damage. If you think you might have them, hold a piece of white paper under the leaf of a plant and shake it lightly – the spider mites will drop off like ground pepper onto the paper.

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  • Again, a good way to start is with water which is a simple and often effective way of dislodging them from the plant. Always be sure to get the undersides of the leaves also.
  • Introducing natural predators of spider mites is a great way to tackle an infestation. These very helpful insects can include ladybugs, predatory thrips, lacewing and – my personal favourite for this purpose – the spider mite destroyer!
  • Neem oil is, as usual, good to have on hand but stay away from pesticides because spider mites are resistant and you’ll only end up killing your sweet ladybugs.

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Mealy bugs

Mealy bugs look like fluffy little tufts of cotton wool but are much more unpleasant. They have long sucking mouth parts to extract the sap from plants – ew, gross – and, like their pesty buddies, enjoy hanging out on the underside of leaves where it’s hard to see them. As well as sucking the sap from plants and exuding honeydew which leads to sooty mould, they also produce a damaging toxic saliva.

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Need any more reasons to get rid of them? Here’s how to do it:

  • A homemade chilli or garlic soap or a commercial insecticide will definitely do the trick but first of all try removing them from the plant by scraping them off or with water.
  • You can wrap a bit of aluminium foil around the bottom of the plant which will bounce light off the underside of the leaves – they will really dislike that!
  • They thrive in humid, nitrogen rich environments so watch that you don’t over water or over fertilise.
  • Ladybugs and lacewings to the rescue again! These guys do not get along with mealy bugs and will happily drive out an infestation. Ants, on the other hand, protect mealy bugs and love the honeydew so by keeping ants under control you can make life harder for the mealy bugs.

Many of these organic solutions to plant pests will work for all kinds of nasties that want a piece of your lovely indoor garden. If you’re still struggling, give us a call. We can recommend some other strategies or commercial insecticides that won’t douse your house in awful chemicals.

It’s worth being vigilant with your indoor plants – love them, and they will love you back. And remember to check new plants thoroughly for pests before introducing them to your existing collection. A week or two in peaceful quarantine to get them settled and bug-free can be a good idea!

Images from top: Lounge room via www.insideout.com.au, aphids via Natural Living Ideas, ladybug eating aphids via Garden of Eaden, spider mites via Planet Natural, green lacewing via Planet Natural, mealybugs via the Bug Geek

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How To ..... Kokedama !

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A kokedama is, like Japanese bonsai or Chinese penjing, a form of garden art. The word translates to “moss ball” and is as much about the artistry of display as it is about a living plant. To make a kokedama, a plant and its root system is transplanted from a pot into a ball of soil which is then surrounded by a layer of moss and then wrapped with twine or string. Sometimes kokedama are fixed to a surface, like a piece of wood, but more often you will see them suspended from string. These hanging moss balls have taken off as a hugely popular form of garden creativity much in the same way as the resurgence of macramé we discussed a couple of weeks ago. They can be such a charming and playful way to nurture and display a plant – like big mossy pom poms – and they can also be elegantly sculptural and beautiful. Hanging kokedama are the perfect way to overcome the challenge presented by spaces where the available surface area for keeping potted plants is limited. With kokedama, the sky is almost literally the limit!

What you will need to make your own:

  • Potting mix
  • Peat soil (which helps retain moisture)
  • A small amount of slow release fertiliser
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Your selected plant
  • Twine or string
  • An extra ball of twine or string (you might like to use a pretty colour for this)
  • 2 large round bowls
  • Scissors

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             1. Place the sphagnum moss into one of the bowls and wet it down with water                   so it’s nice a damp but not too mushy

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               2. Take your other round bowl (the size of which will help determine how                        large your moss ball is) and crisscross a few lengths of twine across the bowl                with plenty of length overhanging the edge – you will be using this to secure                   the moss towards the end of the process

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             3. Line the bowl with a layer of the damp sphagnum moss


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            4. Place the plant, with its root system in tact into the moss lined bowl and pack           around its roots with your mix of peat, potting mix and fertiliser – be sure to pack          it densely and firmly as this is what will form a sturdy moss ball


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                5. Cover the exposed soil mixture with a layer of sphagnum moss and, using                      the lengths of twine, tie it firmly down

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                      6. Using your second ball of twine, tie the end to the existing knotted twine,                    gently remove the ball from the bowl, then wrap the twine around it,                              crisscrossing back and forth all the way around until you are satisfied that                      the moss is firmly secured and the whole thing looks gorgeous

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                  7. Suspend the moss ball from the ceiling or from a shelf or beam, making                          sure that the plant is upright  
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                         8. Voila! Your very own kokedama.

    I used a scindapsus plant for this one which is ideal for kodedama because it is a hardy little beast as well as being lovely. It can cope with inconsistent watering and will continue to flourish in the shade. You can use all kinds of plants for your kokedama but just be aware that some will require very specific and consistent care. Try tropical plants like orchids, anthuriums, angel hair vines and begonias. Depending upon their moisture requirements, you can pop the whole ball into water when it starts getting dried out then hang it somewhere it can drip for a while (i.e. not over your Persian rug). I hang mine out over the terrace from time to time and it’s a pleasure to watch these organic sculptures swinging gently in the breeze.

     

     

    Phot credits Top image via http://www.rv-orchidworks.com/ all other images are Terraces own.

    Macramé - a fresh look

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    Macramé is a trend that would seem to perfectly embody the adage that “everything old is new again”. The craft phenomenon that saturated 1970s decor and fashion certainly made an impact on my childhood as we didn't have a garden and our apartment was festooned with macrame. We even learnt how to do it in school!

    Macramé has made a comeback in recent years with a fresh aesthetic that has all the appeal of the retro style but a clean and chic style that lends itself beautifully to contemporary interiors and outdoor spaces. We have been embracing and pioneering the macramé resurgence here at Terrace and love being part of this ever-evolving and beautiful craft. 

    Macramé - what is it?

    Macramé is the craft of knotting string, yarn, cord or rope into intricate patterns. Think of it as a cousin to knitting and crochet but without the hooks or needles.

    While for many of us, macramé calls to mind brown 1970s interiors decorated with knotted jute owl wall hangings, it actually has its roots in 13th century Arab weaving and the Moorish conquests saw it spread throughout Europe. It is also associated with sailors who, in their long hours on the ocean, knotted hammocks and belts then sold them at port, thus introducing the style to different part of Asia and into America. We love that exotic history – the idea of fringed cloaks on desert camels and lonely sailors under hot skies. It gives it back its romance, balances out the kitsch reputation it’s, perhaps unfairly, gained over recent decades.

     

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    Macramé had its first real resurgence as what we would call a “trend” in Victorian England where very fine knotted lace was used to decorate curtains, doilies, sheets and other furnishings. The trend eventually faded and it wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s that macramé made a real comeback. This is the era that most of us will be familiar with, an era in which macramé was both a mainstream household decorative form and also associated with the hippie movement’s fashion, jewellery, and accessories.


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    The recent resurgence of the art of macramé has a new level of restraint. Even large scale decorative pieces have a delicacy of style. And rather than entire rooms full of macramé objects, moderation has become the name of the game with decorators opting for one striking piece in a space or a small collection of lighter pieces. Just as it was in previous decades, macramé popularity as a decorative trend in the home was mirrored by its increasing popularity in fashion. Indeed, macramé has now secured its place as a desirable component of the most stylish homes and gardens, and as a technique used in contemporary haute couture fashion.

    Gone are the days of heavy rope hangings and jute bags. Macramé’s new lightness and cool elegance is a pleasure to behold and embrace. At Terrace we have totally embraced Macrame and seen it evolve and morph in to many exciting products such as wall hangings and furniture. Check out some of our Terrace pieces below.

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    Shop some Macrame looks at Terrace here !

    Image credits from top: Macramé tent by Emily Katz, macramé style guides from the 1960s & 70s; macramé wall hanging by Sally England, cushion from Losari, Valentino Spring 2016 Haute Couture, weaver pendant lights from Satelight, interior via Domisilium, all Terrace photos by Paul Hopper
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