Bringing the Outdoors In

Bringing the Outdoors InAfter a long week of reviewing designs for living walls and finalizing contracts for green roofs, I often toss some work in my leather bag and head home to finish up in my “sanctuary,” AKA my living room. With a panoramic view of a lush canyon complete with mature trees, California scrub and a pseudo meadow,  my second story living room is at treetop level. The view is spectacular: gracefully aging eucalyptus and ash trees surrounded by palms and an old and twisted Hollywood juniper.

It is in my big chair, in my living room that I am able to take a deep breath and exhale the day. Even inside my home, I am surrounded by greenery. Some of my plants and Kentia palms have been with me for years. They are like old friends welcoming me home when I walk through the door. Friends who help keep me healthy in mind, body and spirit.

Why shouldn’t we bring more of nature indoors with us? While it is wonderful to take a walk in nature, having plants and trees indoors with us at home and at work can actually help us stay healthy. And think of all the time we spend indoors.

Scientist and author Bill Wolverton wrote a book called “Plants: Why You Can’t Live Without Them.” It is an informative and eye-opening look at the many benefits plants provide us. Plants produce the oxygen that we breathe. They naturally clean our air of toxic elements such as benzene, xylene and formaldehyde. Wolverton’s book provides the scientific data that shows how plants actually remove these VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Naturally beautiful plants like a ficus tree remove up to 980 micrograms per hour of formaldehyde from office air.

Besides the health benefits plants provide us, being around greenery and trees and flowering plants just makes us feel good. We like looking at and being around them and it brings us a sense of calm and helps our overall well-being. The next time you need to give a gift to someone, why not give a beautifully potted plant or tree? What a great wedding gift that would be; a flowering Peace Lily wrapped up in a white satin bow for the newlyweds, something they can watch bloom and grow for years.

I finished my work at home last week and watched the view as the sun went down. It was the best way to end my day, surrounded outside by trees, shrubs and flowers and wrapped up inside in a blanket of old friends in their pots and decorative containers. From my perspective, as much as I care for my indoor plants, they take even better care of me.