In conversation

Babylon Gardens Journal

In conversation

Meet Sandii, landscape designer and photographer behind Babylon Gardens. We’ve been lucky enough to work with Sandii and her team over the past year to help bring our stores to life with a range of lush plants that create an inviting and warm environment.

We recently caught up with Sandii to talk about her background and how her business came to life - she also gave us sound advice on how to look after our indoor plants through winter.

Babylon Gardens

Can you tell us a little about your background and how did you get into landscaping / gardening?

I have designed gardens in one way or another since I was a teenager but had never really considered if for a profession until all things led me here ten years ago.

I’m a true believer in many skills funneling into something you really connect with and can be good at when all things collide. I’ve had a varied career path working in the outdoors, industrial sewing and manufacturing outdoor clothing, various culinary travel jobs and repairing wealthy people’s ski pants! I’m also trained as a photographer.

I’m self-taught in landscape design which has many benefits of not conforming to rules leading to hopefully a more creative outcome, my time outdoors and photography have greatly influenced how I design and plan out gardens as composition and natural plantings are very important to me.

Babylon Gardens
Babylon Gardens

How do you choose the right plant for the right spot in your home? Sunny vs. shaded spots

A plant in the right spot is always going to look amazing even if it’s not the one you really wanted there. You can often tell by colour and form what certain plants like; silvery blue grey plants and brightly flowering plants often like hot dry and sunny spots, versus ferns and large leaved dark greens often like shade or part shade. If you try and force a plant into a certain place because you want it there and the conditions aren’t right for the plant, it will turn up its toes and tell you “I told you so”.

What are some of the easiest indoor plants to care for? (for those not so green thumbs)

Many of the philodendrons are very forgiving and super easy, especially p. scandens and Zamioculas zamiifolia (Zanzibar) are probably the best for the darker spots and love dry neglect. We also rate Anthuriums with their lovely flowers and ability to thrive wherever! We often use kokedama anthurium for this reason, and once you start loving cacti there’s no going back, they are pretty easy and often don’t need a draining pot which is handy for a more interesting pot selection. We name all our cacti; they have such personality.

Babylon Gardens
Babylon Gardens

What’s your favourite in-door house plant and why?

That’s tricky I love them all, in my house my favourite is our giant lepidozamia which we have high up on a fridge unit. I wouldn’t recommend this though unless you have a double height ceiling and spot where no one can walk into as its huge and a bit spiky. If I’m allowed to pick two, I also love the philodendron exotica as it’s easy to care for and striking.

Can you give us some general tips on how to look after your indoor plants through cooler months?

In general, most indoor plants prefer less water in winter and like to get good light, overwatering would probably be the number one way to kill a plant. In winter there’s a common problem of plants near heat pumps getting blasted with hot dry air, they don’t like that much nor do plants like a draughty southern breeze coming in the window at them. Just think like a human would I like to be cold and damp...No I think not, warm dry and comfortable is how most indoor plants like their winter.

Babylon Gardens

Are there any good tools you’d recommend every plant enthusiast should have?

We have various snips and secateurs that we use, I like Pallares garden snips and also just plain old small scissors for soft indoor plants. I always groom my plants, cut the brown leaves off so they look better. We love niwashi tools especially the hand hoe, and there’s a $17 Spear & Jackson expandable rake from most hardware stores which I’m totally lost without.

How can indoor plants help to reset a space?

Plants give colour, character and warmth to a space. They give life not only with the clean air qualities, but also in form and texture. For children it’s a great place to learn how to care for something.

Name your top trend plants for 2020

Statement indoor trees - try a Norfolk Pine or giant olive like we have in the Max stores, colourful calatheas and cactus collections with names and handmade pots.

Lastly, how would you describe your personal style?

I love fashion (always have, often I make my own bags and sometimes my clothes) comfort is really important to me as I’m always running around, so I like things to be well made with beautiful fabrics that last and stay looking good. I’m outdoorsy, slightly tomboyish and I love good design that’s not overdone.

Shop the look