Plant Life Balance

Q&A: Sharehouse Hero, Jess Miller

While not sharing the house quite like in her uni days, the eclectic aesthetic still feels like home.

While she has no formal qualifications, Jess grew up on a herb farm which makes her uniquely qualified to quote the botanic names of at least eight types of mint, 12 salvias and six kinds of basil.

How would you describe your home when it comes to trees and plants?
It’s a small space so planting is eclectic, opportunistic and experimental.

Why do you have all this green, what does it do for your life?
It’s a very small house in the middle of the city, so being surrounded by living things helps soften where we live and mellows out the hard edges. Plants force you to slow down and take notice of the pace of life

Do your children enjoy getting their hands dirty?
Yes. Planting days are always lots of fun and having jobs like watering the plants, looking for slaters and noticing the changes of flowers coming and going often sparks important conversations about how things work.

How about you – is it fun/relaxing?
It’s both. We try as much as possible to make sure that there is something green to look out at from every window. So even if you’re having a shower there is something to look at and notice. Our approach to the plants is always evolving and we’ve tried lots of different things in different places.

What’s the best thing about having your own green oasis?
There’s always somewhere nice to sit.

What’s your favourite plant in your garden/home?
I’m a big fan of my bromeliads. The fact that they exist without soil astounds me. I’ve come to love the ivy for durability and am looking forward to the day when our fence is covered in Boston Ivy – especially during hot summers I think this will have a great cooling effect on the hot western side of the house. We also have some little figs and seaside daisy’s growing through the cracks of the walls. No one planted them there and I appreciate their determination.

How would you rate your plant life balance?
I would always love more. I’m inspired by unusual ways of hanging and incorporating plants into unusual indoor areas.

For first time gardeners, what’s your hot tip for starting out?
If you want to grow things inside, it’s worth buying in duplicate or triplicate. Most windows block out UV which plants need to photosynthesise, so I rotate my indoor plants every 4-6 weeks to give them a little outdoor time to get enough light.

Get the Sharehouse Heroes look and plant list (and more) in the Plant Life Balance app. Download it for free from the App Store or Google Play.

When not in her garden, Jess works to do good things in cities to make peoples’ lives better – but confesses that she spends a lot of time figuring out how to do this, and doesn’t always get it right. Her strike rate is pretty good. Follow her on Instagram: @jessmillersydney