Lately I have been bombarded with a host of new and exciting – and important, but more of that later – design products that let you grow your own plants, flowers and vegetables, wherever you are, on whatever scale you like.
Appealing to the green-fingered and the design-obsessed alike, these new products are a far cry from the sad seeds-and-dried-compost-to-go that you find at Sainsbury’s. They look fantastic, and set a great example to urban dwellers such as myself who think that their lack of a garden lets them off the hook when it comes to growing stuff.
Top of my list is the ingenious Plant a Bloomer range by London-based graphic designer Rani Deshpande. Made from 100 per cent post-consumer recycled paper embedded with fern and wildflower seeds, Rani’s products are not only eco-conscious, they give you new life at the same time. Her plantable paper place mats and coasters, which come in four designs that are simple yet wonderfully whimsical in rich pale pastels, would suffice if they were place mats alone. But that one can then plant the paper in a seed tray, watch it degrade and new, colourful flowers bloom, is something truly wonderful. You can find her products in Harvey Nichols and at Not On The High Street.
In a venture that’s perhaps a little less pretty but a whole lot more worthy, a new company, Pocket Habitat, has created “a unique modular vegetation system specifically designed to promote biodiversity on roofs or on brownfield sites set aside for future development”. In other words, chic and understated portable sacks of recycled PP fibres filled with recycled substrates and wildflower seeds that can be placed pretty much anywhere, in any quantity; just place the sack where required, open it up, wait for rainwater to germinate the seeds, and watch it grow. And if this isn’t eco enough, they can also tailor-make the sacks according to where you live, using locally sourced ingredients, reducing the carbon footprint yet further.
For more stylish domestic grow-your-own purposes, the guys at Allotinabox have created a series of funky little boxes containing all you need to grow your own vegetables for spring, summer, autumn or winter (second picture). Using retro fonts and colourful designs, they look great and come with a very useful “grow wheel”, which tells you what each vegetable is, when to sow it and when to harvest. The icing on the cake: beautifully designed recycled plant tags with some ethnic jute twine, so you can tell your endive from your mizuma.
And finally, I can’t help but be enchanted by the new offering from the people at Postcarden (a pop-up postcard you can plant to grow your own watercress): the MatchCarden. Choose from a village cottage and church or a striking blue, pink or orange townhouse, slide the box open, attach cardboard house to cardboard garden, water, and wait for the cress “lawn” to grow (first picture).
While all these design-friendly plant kits are wonderful fun and look great, they serve a more important purpose: they are begging us to grow our own plants and food in any way we can.