November 4, 2011
Shopping in Sydney: Garden Life
I can’t stop looking at plants. Indoor plants, to be specific, with trailing leafy tendrils. The kind of plant you might find hanging in Annie Hall or Mary Wilkie’s apartment in 1970s New York (confession: I may have spent a disproportionate amount of time focussing on indoor shrubbery during my most recent viewing of Manhattan. See? I just can’t help myself).
Luckily for me, the clever people behind Sydney’s Garden Life also have a bit of a thing for ‘70s potted classics, and they’ve paired the likes of Boston Fern and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (such a misogynist yet strangely evocative name for a plant, no?) with some rather delightful modern pot and planter options. In fact, their eye-catching window currently features a collection of Boston Ferns cascading from local ceramacist David Edmonds’ hanging wire planters.
It’s this very ability to source The Perfect Plant with The Perfectly Matching Pot that makes Garden Life a winner in the design and style stakes. The lush calm oasis of greenery on Sydney’s Cleveland Street (just opposite Follow Store) certainly looks the part, mixing centuries-old Greek urns and Turkish yoghurt pots with modern ceramic pots and plants, water features, garden furniture and astro turf bunny sculptures. And while you could easily spend $1,250 on an incredible antique pot sourced from overseas, you can also pick up Indian chai cups for $5 (which look great with mini succulents). In fact, there is a wide range of extremely affordable pots and planters that give IKEA a run for its money, including an excellent range of simple white modern pots starting at $15.
It’s also a very useful one-stop shop for presents, especially for those who you think have everything – after all, who wouldn’t love a little piece of potted perfection? Take, for instance, Samantha Robinson’s hand-thrown beeswax-style pots in milky pastels with succulents for $40. Other great buys include vintage French terracotta seedling pots for $12, and small Turkish pots for $15, as well as the vibrant 1950s Turkish tabak plates and bowls from $95. There is also a good range of Egyptian Siwa date baskets, which start at $45 and can be used as planters or storage. I couldn’t leave without a stunning Rhipsalis succulent, which has the most pleasing trailing tendrils for about $50.
Garden Life principal Richard Unsworth and his talented team also offer a landscape design service, where they can turn even the smallest patch of garden (or balcony) into a lush green retreat straight out of the pages of an interiors mag. Richard, incidentally, is the Gardening Editor of Australian home design magazine Belle.
A new-ish addition is the café at the back of the shop, which looks out onto a courtyard and where you can get small light meals and a very good coffee. And sitting outside looking out on to pretty Young Street, you kinda forget that the roar of Cleveland Street is just metres away.
Garden Life (the online shop is also very good)
357 Cleveland Street
Tel. (Shop) 02 8399 0666
Tel. (Twig Cafe) 02 8021 6406
Opening hours (shop)
Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
Opening hours (cafe)
Monday to Friday 7am-5pm