Johanna’s beautiful two-room apartment in western Helsinki is a place of peace and harmony – in spite of the fact that the interior design boldly combines different materials, colours and styles of furniture. Some pieces of furniture have been with Johanna for a long time. Others have been bought spontaneously and, in Johanna’s words, “in the grips of deep infatuation”. At home, the discoveries have turned out to match each other in terms of colour, theme or shape.
The overarching themes of the home’s decor are Asian philosophy and aesthetics, which Johanna is a fan of – and plants. Plants create a cosy atmosphere, have a calming effect and clear the air with their presence alone.
“Plants are living beings: they change their shape and it’s fun to follow that change.”
Johanna has never considered herself the nurturing type, but she admits – with a laugh – that after her son left the nest a few years ago, she started looking after her plants in a whole different way without even realising it at first.
“I pay closer attention to them and even talk to them. Plants are individuals, they’re not identical at all and they don’t all behave the same way even if they belong to the same species. It’s always upsetting when a plant starts shedding its leaves or just won’t thrive in your home.”
The precious orchids
Orchids are a long-time hobby of Johanna’s. They are considered difficult plants to care for, but hers have always flourished.
“I managed to grow one of them from a keiki, which is a sapling that sprouts from the stem of an orchid plant. My best tip for orchid care is not to care too much,” Johanna laughs.
Orchids prosper in clusters planted in large pots.
“I like plants that are easy to care for. They provide me with experiences of success. When the care instructions aren’t too complicated or difficult, caring for plants becomes a source of pleasure instead of stress. The most resilient houseplants are the classics that have been available in Finland for a long time, such as fig trees.”
Sometimes plants can surprise you. The jade plant, which is traditionally viewed as easy to care for, has proved surprisingly challenging for Johanna, even though her orchids seem to flourish with little effort.
Green on the inside and outside
Currently, most of the plants in Johanna’s home are evergreen. She appreciates all things green, including the surrounding nature; the beautiful old pine trees seen through her windows are as important to her as her houseplants. If it starts to look like her houseplants are about to block out the view and natural light, she trims them or finds them a new spot.
Johanna buys new plants every now and then when the mood and inspiration strike. These days, plants are easily available for purchase in different places: gardening shops, florists, interior decorating shops and supermarkets in large shopping centres. Johanna also trades plant cuttings with her mother and sister.
Johanna initially keeps new plants separated from the others and sprays them carefully to prevent the spread of any pests or diseases. When this is no longer a concern, she starts looking for a proper place for the plant and potentially repots it. Johanna prefers to place plants that are close to each other in similar pots for the sake of visual cohesion.
Johanna also likes cut flowers. She often buys a colorful bouquet on Friday to brighten up the weekend ahead. Her favourites are tulips, which can be made into large, vibrant bouquets during tulip season.
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