Plant Life Balance

Where’s your Happy Hour Oasis? We found ours

We caught up with Nick, Theatre Manager at Howler, where we shot our new Happy Hour Oasis look.

A converted warehouse in Brunswick, Howler is a local staple for live bands and regular hangs, thanks largely to their clear plant prowess. We love Howler so much we HAD to use their deliciously green beer garden for our latest look as well as our first Melbourne event.

Tell us why you and your business loves plants?

It’s a no brainer when you start thinking about beer gardens. The best bar/pub spaces I’ve enjoyed have had a big garden focus. The worst have been concrete boxes.

Why do you think plants are so on trend right now?

I feel they were never off trend. Even when I was getting started in hospitality, mostly in the CBD, plants played a big role in making small spaces feel more homely. I remember working with companies that specialised in flower and plant arrangements that would refresh cafes weekly.

Businesses seem to be giving more space than ever to plants. What prompted you to get greening at Howler?

I was a landscape gardener for a few years before we started the Howler build. From this experience, and working with the owners and designers, I sort of fell naturally into the role.

How many plants do you have in your space, what type of plants are they?

Heaps is the easiest answer, but ‘less then we intended’ is a longer one. We originally wanted to have all overhead plants as well as irrigated wall plants but the building had other ideas. Taking over old warehouses always presents issues and with this one it was old bricks and their ability to take load.

We opted to save weight and used ‘waterless’ plants for these. The rest of the planters have varieties of natives and a few signature trees to break up the height. Ornamental Maples and a large Himalayan Cedar were put into the entrance walkway to draw people in. The rest were creepers and vines, native grasses and succulents.

What inspired this selection?

The beer garden has a big wow factor when you first walk in. We removed a portion of the roof to expose the truss and roofline and tall trees and steel structures for creepers draw your eye up to this. Beer gardens tend to present problems around interaction with punters so plants need to be robust. Because of this, the selection has been a lot of trial and error.

What’s your favourite plant and why?

Probably the palms and ferns in the shadier areas. These stay lush and green year round and because of their position, don’t require a lot of attention.

What has the customer response to your greenery been?

Really positive! You can tell you’re on a good thing when plants go missing. But I have had a few instances of customers telling me and the staff they love the space – so that’s always nice. The beer garden was intended to be an oasis at the end of a pretty bland carpark. I feel punters get that.

Do you think your greenery has increased your customer base?

I certainly hope so. A lot of effort went into the design and maintaining the space. I’d like to think it’s a big sell point for the venue.

What’s the best part of having a green oasis within your business?

The chance to get into the garden and break up the office work week!

Shot in Brunswick’s Howler, get the new Happy Hour Oasis look and plant list is now available in the Plant Life Balance app.