I actually smile at the response from people whenever someone asks me what I love to do, and I tell them casually that I love to grow unique plants. I then add that I happen to sell them online; then they even get more intrigued.
Obviously, in this part of the world, most people take it for granted that plants just grow and assume its “Mother-Nature’s duty” to work her magic.
I guess its because Kenya as a country is blessed with incredible, different types of flora and fauna that is diverse and unique as her country. Everywhere you go, you will see some form of plant life, be it scrubland, savannah, tropical forests or even marine plant life. What is not obvious to the layman, is that humans, birds, insects and especially bees have a huge role to play in supporting plant life and its continuity to thrive long before we are gone.
It wasn’t until recently that I finally understood what Urban gardening was all about. I got interested in this concept and began to read about it. I finally got to understand that, what I started as a hobby became a full range of offerings on our e-commerce platform. And more surprising is that what Shop Nanjala’s brand “In Bloom”, was trying to achieve was intrinsically woven with the inspiration of trying to promote urban gardening itself.
It took writing a submission for the SDGs and Her competition, that I also realized the intrinsic value that #nanjalablooms offers; one of elevating Urban Gardening – whose values preposition is far reaching, especially for the ever growing urban dwellers in Nairobi.
These core values are anchored in environmental conservation and sustainability.
Nanjala’s sub brand – “In Bloom” is mainly interested in 2 components of Urban Gardening. I shall explain both and their benefits.
Every-time I drive to work, I tend to look up towards the sprawling surburb apartments that are ever increasing in our city. My eyes especially linger on the flats’ balconies that have plants. From lush ferns, to regal palms, to hanging pots with sedums or cacti. One will see different species of plants in all sorts of containers. Some are earthen, some on concrete, some even on wall brackets and others hanging off banana baskets. It is indeed pleasing to the eye and I’m sure that the owners pride themselves in growing plants in their apartments.
This concept of container gardening is becoming a common phenomenon for various reasons
- The appreciation for the aesthetic appeal – the lush green, florals are a chic inexpensive way of decorating the living area/homes
- The therapeutic benefits of plants – read more of this in this blog post
Container gardening is also an economical way of keeping plants in containers/planters when one has limited growing space to do so. To note is that depending on the pots size, one may need to re-pot from time to time.
Advantages of growing plants in containers:
- One can grow all types of plants form decorative flowers, herbs, cacti, vegetables, fruits and even small trees! I know people who have grown exotic species not native to Kenya, or bonsai lovers have their plants in custom pots etc
- One can move them to anywhere they like, from your office desk, to your verandah, roof top, balcony or by a brightly lit window.
This concept is gaining momentum in major cities here, like in Mombasa and Nairobi. It is both a science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants. “It has an undeniable relationship to production horticulture in that fruits, vegetables and other plants are grown for harvest, aesthetic, architectural, recreational and psychological purposes, but it extends far beyond these benefits”. In Kenya today, we are seeing notable real estate projects that are championing this concept such as Urban Greene in Kileleshwa that has a river front botanical garden.
Moreover, planting of herbs and vegetables in gunny sacks (gunias) is not a new phenomena in the city. Nairobians are more than ever appreciating the benefits of organic farm produce as well are responding to the high cost of these groceries in our local markets. Basil, lemongrass, rosemary, tomatoes, spring onions, ‘Sukumawiki’, strawberries etc are just but a few fruits and vegetables staples grown in little batches that are used regularly by home owners; be it in estates or apartments.
The restorative value of urban horticulture cannot be ignored. Architects, urban planners and landscape designers have observed that trees, ponds, wildlife tranquilize the stresses of city life. According to various studies over the years, nature has a very positive impact over human health and even more so in an emotional and psychological sense. Trees, grass, and flower gardens, due to their presence as well as visibility, increase people’s life satisfaction by reducing fatigue and irritation and restoring a sense of calm.
Other advantages include:
- A healthy lifestyle fuelled by an increase in intake of nutritious fruits and vegetables
- Regularly gardening is also a low-impact exercise – relieves stress, reduces weight and improves health
- Indirectly promotes learning, e.g. one can learn how to grow strawberries year on year
- Saves one money purchasing food
It is our vision as Nanjala, to promote well-being in our city. Not only do we sell plants, but have recently launched and designed unique indoor/outdoor containers that strike the perfect functional & aesthetic balance for the discerning urban gardener. The Nanjala Tribute pot is a great option for your home and indeed a cool start for those who are interested in urban gardening. So go on, tap into your inherent power of caring for Mother Earth and grab that pot & plant something new!