IN CONVERSATION WITH RO CO: HOUSE OF PLANTSMarch 22, 2017
Photography and co-styling by Erika Raxworthy
Created by friends Caro Langton and Rose Ray, House Of Plants is the ultimate guide to caring for your succulents, air plants and cacti. After running a stall that Rose started at Broadway Market, they became the go-to girls for advice on how to care for your exotic indoor greenery, and now they grow and nurture tropical plants and succulents and show how easy it is to use indoor gardening to connect to the natural world.
Their book, House Of Plants, was created as a guide to bringing plants into city life, with the best advice on how to care your for flora friends, develop your indoor jungle and keep your succulents and cacti blooming. We sit down with Caro and Rose to find out how they got into the world of indoor gardening.
UO: How did you each discover your love of plants and greenery?
Rose: Caro and I both grew up with a lot of greenery in different parts of England, spending much of our time exploring the outdoors. Gardening and indoor plants were a way to relax, spend time with family, and let our imaginations runs wild. After moving to London, we each felt we had lost our freedom to get our hands dirty, and hoped to find a way to reconnect with the natural world.
UO: Can you tell us a little about how you met and when you decided on embark on this adventure together?
Caro: We met ten years ago at Nottingham Trent University where we were both studying design, and have been close friends since then. We always hoped that we could find a way to work together, but for a long time after graduating and moving to London we each worked separately: Rose in costume and set design, and I in printmaking.
In the summer of 2014, Rose was experimenting with plants, and designing pots and reclaimed terrariums to hold them. Once she had enough pieces, I helped her with her first day selling on Broadway Market in east London. We immediately knew Rose was on to something, because the response from passersby was overwhelmingly positive. Every week, people kept coming back. Knowing how well we worked together, Rose asked if I would join her permanently, and the rest happened from there.
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UO: Your studio is based on the edge of Hampstead Heath. What do you love most about being situated right next to such a gorgeous space?
Caro: The Heath and my grandparents’ old home are my absolute favourite places in the world, where my happiest memories are. My grandmother kept lots of indoor plants, and living with them now is a daily reminder of her love. There is something magical about this part of London; a spring-time stroll at dawn or dusk on Hampstead Heath is continuously calming and inspiring.
Rose: The thing I love the most is the space. We have been incredibly lucky having Caro’s Grandmother’s house to use as our base, and her conservatory to grow and nurture so many different species of tropical plants. Being able to live in the house for the last few years was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we threw everything into trying to make our idea a success.
UO: What is the creation or transformation of a space you have worked on that you are most proud of?
Caro: I think we would have to say our book. Our publisher gave us so much freedom to design it and bring it together in the way we wanted, and we were able to work with a brilliant group of people (many of them friends) to help us. It was undoubtedly the most challenging project we have ever worked on, but also the most rewarding.
UO: What has been one of the most fun projects to work on?
Rose: Working with Erika is always great fun. She has helped us with everything from product and lifestyle photography for our website to shooting and helping us style all of the book. Her aesthetic has played an integral role in developing our business, and we really couldn’t have got this far without her. During the busiest stage of writing House of Plants, we all took a road trip to Cactusland in Peterborough, and spent the day lost in three acres of hybrid cacti and cats – that was definitely one of the best experiences of the project.
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UO: Can you tell us a little about House of Plants? Where did the idea come from to make this book and how long did it take to create?
Rose: We essentially wanted to create a modern guide for people living in the city to learn how easy it is to live with plants.
Caro: Being on Broadway Market every Saturday for two years allowed us to have a direct relationship with our customers, and everything included in our book reflects that. From getting to know the basics of different kinds of house plants to learning how to eventually propagate them, we hoped to help people become confident to experiment and ultimately transform their living spaces. We also included the recipes and DIY projects we have developed since we began, such as homemade hanging planters, concrete pots, organic composts and fertislisers. The book took around 6 months to research, write, style, photograph and design.
UO: What do you love about creating green spaces indoors?
Rose: I think there’s something innate about our longing to live amongst plant life. And a bit of greenery transforms a space like magic. Essentially, life with a potted plant is, undeniably, better.
UO: Which is the easiest houseplant to maintain for first time plant buyers?
Rose: In the ‘Immortal Companions’ chapter of our book, we featured an amazing forest cactus called the Fishbone cactus. Because it is native to shadier habitats, it prefers indirect light, and doesn’t need much care other than an occasional drink of water. It’s ideal for creating an instantly impressive burst of greenery with very little hassle.
Caro: Since using it in the styling of our book, I have kept a beautiful Cast Iron plant (also called Aspidistra elatior) on the mantelpiece in my bedroom. It is the most resilient plant, happy with hardly any natural light and putting up with missed waterings too. It’s become one of my all time favourite hardy species that I often recommend to customers and friends as a first-time plant.
UO: What are your favourite green spaces in the city?
Caro: The Barbican Conservatory and the Palm House at Kew are both favourites. I suffer a bit from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the winter and detest the cold; a dip into a balmy tropical glasshouse is an immediate relief in darker months.
Rose: I would have to say the Heath and a morning swim in the ladies’ pond. For finding unusual indoor plants, Conservatory Archives on Hackney Road is a must.
UO: What are your ambitions and plans for 2017?
Caro: At the moment we are focusing on larger scale installations, particularly for workplaces and events around London. Our aim is to bring personality to these spaces without complication – it’s amazing how, with the right kinds in the right spot, indoor plants can instantly and effortlessly transform a space. We would love to eventually travel more with our work, but for now we are happy bringing as much exotic greenery to London as possible.
Shop: Mod Metal Small Plant Pot
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