With These Hands takes a look at people who are doing great work, with their hands. We spoke to Emma Grubb of Botantic about the shop and her love of plants…
I opened Botanic, a house plant shop within the York city walls, in late January 2018 during the “quiet” season of my job as an ecologist, which I have been doing for the last ten years. We sell house plants, plant accessories, botanically themed books, gifts, homewares, run botanical workshops and have started undertaking plant styling for local businesses.
I’m not a botanist or horticulturalist, however, ecology is the study of the relationships between species and their environment, and I find that my professional background is relevant every day in the shop when advising customers on appropriate plant selection and placement for their chosen indoor space.
Plants have adapted over millions of years to the conditions they now thrive in, and for house plants to succeed, we need to replicate these as much as possible; cacti do not want the same conditions as rainforest understorey plants. I love the “eureka!” moment people have when I’m chatting to them about plant adaptations and they realise why their succulents keep turning to mush…….
I’ve had house plants around me since I was a child. The first plant I remember is “Willy” the cactus – a large Mammilaria that eventually grew two balls! Air purifying qualities, our much needed and often lost connection with nature, the need to nurture, the joy of a new leaf unfurling, city living, an escape from digital life…. these are all reasons why house plants are popular again. Like most things, plant popularity has been cyclical over centuries but I believe house plants are now here to stay!
Running both a small ecological consultancy and a house plant shop is a challenge but I have the most wonderful Alice (The Real Plant Lady of York ™) managing the shop when I am being largely nocturnal, and I am very excited for our future.