Greenhouse Studios opened the doors of its new workspace on level 1 of the Homer Babbidge Library in August of 2017. As a new open-plan multi-functional office space, it had room for finishing touches and decorative elements. My immediate response to the name “Greenhouse” envisioned lush plantlife along its glass walls. Joining Greenhouse Studios team in fall of 2017, it soon became my task to add these decorative and green elements to the space in a way that added both beauty and functionality.
The plants themselves were selected based on the low levels of light available from the nearby windows. Since there is no direct sun or even any windows directly facing the outside landscape, this became the first main challenge. My research began by contacting the UConn Home and Garden Education Center with a description of the space and what I was looking for, along with photos of the intended locations and available light for the plants.
My inquiry received a quick reply with suggestions of a variety of low-light-tolerant plants. Wanting to noticeably fill the space, I found that choosing large plants first was the way to go. Then I worked backwards to smaller potted plants as space and budget allowed. While small plants may be added later, for me it’s best to start big. With a defining anchor plant(s), the real workable space became more clearly defined.
For Greenhouse Studios we chose:
- two large peace lilies (Spathiphyllum)
- a medium snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')
- a medium prayer plant (Calathea concinna)
- and small bunches of lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
An existing spider plant and fichus tree were also added from a previous office space and were re-potted in ceramic terracotta pots to fit the workspace color palette. I favored terracotta pots throughout the space because of their grounding earthy color but also their function. Clay pots will easily tell you if a plant needs water. Simply by feeling the pot temperature on the bottom and the top near the soil line. If the pot is significantly cooler at the bottom, the bottom soil is still moist and is not in need of water.
The arrangement of the Greenhouse Studios vegetation is intended to be modular. All of the furniture is currently flexible and moveable so my intent was to continue this theme with the addition of the plants. The large, heavy plants were placed on casters so they can be rolled as needed and all of the smaller plants are in moveable individual pots.
The bamboo plants were added to the area of the space with the least amount of light, since daylight is not required to sustain them. The vessels for these plants are ceramic and were individually handcrafted for the Greenhouse workspace. They were made in two sizes to accommodate different heights of bamboo stalks. I threw the vessels in low-fire red clay on the wheel at the Art Ceramic Studio on campus.
Besides being beautiful to look at, it’s now known that houseplants can also improve the air quality of an indoor space and remove harmful toxins from the air. Plants have also been shown to boost wellbeing, creativity and productivity within a space. I suggest adding greenery to all of your workspaces to bring the life of the outdoors inside.
Graduate Research Assistant