After 10 years working in recruitment, Nik Southern founded Grace & Thorn in 2011.
Opening her tiny floral studio onto East London’s busy Kingsland Road, her philosophy was simple: help people in the city live a greener life.
Drawing on the worlds of art and fashion rather than traditional florist designs, Grace & Thorn plays with unique combinations of textures and patterns so no two pieces are ever the same.
We caught up with Nik after the publication of her first book How to not Kill Your Plants.
YOU KILLED YOUR PLANT. You feel irresponsible. Let’s stop doing that.
House plants can be tricky.
Whether you’re green fingered or not this book will enable you to understand a plant’s needs in order to know where to place and how to style them, but most importantly how to care for them.
Bathrooms can become fern filled rainforests while sitting rooms are your own Amazonian jungle.
Open your eyes to growing and styling possibilities in every room with the ultimate resource for greening up your gaff.
The trends have been changing: people have wised up to how stunning plants are.
They are always pretty photogenic and there’s been a big movement in realising the health benefits of plants that has also helped increase the amount of people instagramming them.
Before I opened Hackney in 2014 I noticed a real gap in the market for (house) plant shops.
I was fairly new to floristry and didn’t want to spend lots of money on flowers to make the shop look full and beautiful, when I had no idea at that point what I would be selling day to day. So I decided to keep the shop looking full with plants and pots.
Having plants in your home connect you to the one thing we forget about when you live in a city – NATURE!
Plants are not only good for the soul but have amazing physical benefits – plants have been proven to help remove toxic vapours from inside contained spaces and to help filter cleaner air.
So basically they help you live longer, better, cleaner lives.
No-one was really that interested in house plants when I started.
A better knowledge about the range of easy-to-care for house plants along with the perfect pot has meant a massive increase in plant sales in the last few years.
I soon realised these people needed help. They were so earnest, so intent on not letting their new babies down.
Everyone needed to CTFO a little bit, take a step back and relax. Plants just don’t die overnight or even within a week.
What’s the most foolproof plant for people who really do kill their plants?
A ZZ plant is quite literally almost indestructible. They actually thrive off neglect and prefer to NOT be watered so if you’re guilty of forgetting to water your plants, or away a lot this is the one for you.
The plant that should be in everybody’s home?
The Fiddle Leaf Fig is the most incredible plant to have in your home. This a real showstopper and not just because it’s an inside tree! It’s the shape that does it – gorgeous big floppy leaves with a tall thin trunk. It is a bit of a tricky customer but once you get into the right routine it’ll love you forever.
Not only are they one of the only trees to grow successfully indoors, highly stylish with deep, wide green leaves – they’re also wonderful for improving air quality by providing high levels of oxygen and cleaning the air of allergens.
Remember to give it plenty of sunlight and a proper soaking without overwatering.
What’s the old myth that has been challenged when it comes to plants and their care?
The most common plant killer is over watering. We’re all guilty of it and the immediate response if your plants looks sad is to give it a drink. However, there might be more too it! It might be too warm, too draughty, the pot be too big or small. Make sure to test the soil and do a bit a bit of research about where your plant is from – you want to make it feel at home in your home.
People say that watering plants is almost a form of meditation, would you agree?
Absolutely! Some people sing or talk to their plants, some even dance with them – whatever makes you happy will make your plant happy. It’s the routine of watering your plants coupled with knowing you’re keeping a bit of nature alive that all adds up to whole lot of zen.