Must-Have a Space for Plants
When it came time to purchase a home in Singapore, Mauritian-born James Ip, who works a demanding IT job, decided that it must have a space for plants. “[Houseplants] literally keep me sane,” he confessed when I went to pay a visit to his home for Plant One On Me’s inaugural ‘Houseplant Home Tour’ series.
I Leave My Troubles Behind
“No matter how bad a day I've had at work,” he shared, “the moment I get home every evening and open the door and see my garden, [as it’s often lit up at night], I leave my troubles behind.” I think many of us can actually share in James’s sentiments. Though it was a gray, overcast day when we arrived to James’s home, his balcony was no less resplendent! Have a look at the Houseplant Home Tour HomesteadBrooklyn shot with James here and take a read of his extended interview.
Summer Rayne: What were some of your first plant memories as a child growing up in Mauritius?
"When I was very young, the family garden was a very wild and jungly place—with random tropical fruit trees including clumps of banana, papaya, guava, avocado, and wild vines like morning glory and Syngonium growing all over the hedges."
Summer Rayne: That sounds so dreamy!
"Yeah, as kids, we didn't really need toys with a place like that to play in! It was the perfect place for me. I was the “weird one”—I actually used to carry my pet chickens around too—I love your Kippee! And I’d play with bugs, catch dragonflies, raise caterpillars and wait for them to turn into butterflies and experiment with my own little vegetable patch. I recall the magic of having beans germinate, potato plants growing from potato eyes…"
Summer Rayne: Sounds as if you and I had very similar childhoods except you were on the other side of the world!
"Yeah, I loved when my brothers and I would hang out by the nearby river to catch fish. The rivers really teemed with colorful swordtails, platys, and guppies—all the kinds you would buy in aquarium shops today. Then each of us would fashion our own makeshift ponds in the garden to raise our own fish. All these early experiences probably account for my love of jungly gardens and riverine landscapes."
Summer Rayne: Can you recall your first plant?
Oh yeah. Later on, in my early teens, a neighbor passed me a maidenhair fern. It was probably an Adiantum capillus-veneris, and this started a craze for ferns and indoor plants. it really helped that our living room and porch had perfect conditions for growing these and I soon amassed quite a collection of ferns and other houseplants, grown mostly indoors. Some were plants I would have collected in my forays in the wild . So, you see, plants were a big part of my childhood growing up."
James installed a pond in his garden, which ultimately gave him the ability to grow more humid-loving plants like Adiantum and Huperzia.