We created a tropical jungle, indoors and out, for an exciting new market space in Hackney: Mare Street Market.
Our first site visit was to a very busy, dusty building site – so it was hard to imagine designs for a lush indoor jungle.
The client, Barworks, was extremely ambitious and encouraged us to get the biggest, most beautiful plants we could find to fill the space. So, we brought in 5 palms (Trachycarpus fortunei), to be installed in bespoke planters on wheels, allowing the space to be flexible. These tropical beauties, each over 4m tall, arrived during the Beast from the East, covered in snow! We worried about the shock of moving them into a centrally-heated environment, and when they flowered their hearts out we feared the worst, but they’ve settled in beautifully since!
The giant tree ferns (Dicksonia antartica) also arrived covered in snow!
Tree ferns are harvested from Australia, and shipped all the way here. They only grow about an inch a year, so the 12 foot specimens are over 100 years old! The whole thing is basically a giant root, which is why there is no pot or rootball, and you have to water the crown from above in hot weather.
We laid out the plants in the snow – and it was hard to believe the transformation that summer would reap.
In those conditions, we were delighted when we could move inside to install the indoor jungle. We deployed a collection of dramatic foliage specimens from Arnott & Mason, which featured swiss-cheese plants (Monstera deliciosa), Kentia palms (Howea forsteriana), elephants ears (Alocasia) and smaller stars like Calathea.
We also installed troughs of plants high up above the doors and windows, choosing drought-tolerant plants that wouldn’t mind minimal watering, such as mother in law’s tongue (Sansvieria) and Dracaena.
All the indoor containers were filled with specialist lightweight green roof growing media from our soil-heroes at Bourne Amenity, to provide that elusive happy medium of free draining yet moisture-retaining structure for the roots.
There were lots of challenges to get the installation completed, not least the incredible weight of such mature palms and tree ferns!
We are delighted to have handed over the maintenance of the space to Barworks staff, who have embraced this responsibility with great enthusiasm and ambition. This video gives an idea of why they love their extra duties, and how they see the role of the plants in defining the space for everyone.