Jungle of Love - Extract from Wonder Plants 2

Extract from Wonder Plants 2 - Your Urban Jungle Interior, by Irene Schampaert and Judith Baehner. Published by Lannoo.

In the greener part of the city of Baltimore, near the Hampden district along the banks of the Jones Falls River, an old cotton factory from 1870 was transformed into a luxury apartment complex. Today, it is more commonly known as Cotton Mill N°1. Hilton Carter, filmmaker, producer, and an interior decorator and plant specialist in his own right, found his dream loft there.

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Though it may look like a jungle, he did not place any of these plants at random. “I see a plant in the house as a design element,” Hilton continues, “and especially with bigger specimens, you can set the tone and make a room even more warm and inviting. But place a Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig) between a Monstera deliciosa (swiss cheese plant) and a Strelitzia (bird-of-paradise), for instance, and you can see something almost magical happen. That process of discovering and unravelling is something that I thoroughly enjoy spending time on.”

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And, to be sure, spending time successfully, as it resulted in beautiful arrangements throughout the apartment. The test-tubes wall is just one of the many eye-catchers. That’s precisely where all the new plants come to life: a solution for cutting plants that is as original as it is decorative. It’s another one of Hilton’s hobbies that has widely spread its roots.

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If you ask him about his favourite, there is no hesitation in his answer. “The fiddle-leaf fig was my first big acquisition; she’s been going strong for more than four years now. Together, we have navigated through lots of adventures,” he says with a fond smile. “My biggest concern is keeping her in tip-top condition.”

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That the Carter home abides by a tight schedule to care for the nearly 150 plants – yes, they have indeed been counted - should not come as a surprise. “A basic knowledge of the different plants is vital,” Hilton says. “Each plant comes with its own needs and its own specific treatment. I set my alarm so I know precisely when to water which plants.” And then it is just a matter of following your gut instincts. You can get quite far with tender loving care. Rest assured, even I lose the occasional soldier,” he jokes. It happens to the best of us.

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Wonder Plants 2: Your Urban Jungle Interior

by Irene Schampaert and Judith Baehner

Available on Amazon