A light-filled home in India embraces indoor-outdoor living

April 30, 2020 by  
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A constant connection to nature pervades the Home by the Park, a newly completed single-family residence that faces a park in the South Indian city of Hubballi. Bangalore-based practice 4site architects designed the house to engage views of the adjacent park from multiple floors and vantage points, while bringing the lush greenery indoors with the creation of a rain courtyard and landscaped terraces. The abundant plantings not only give the house a sense of tranquility but also create a cooling microclimate to counteract the region’s tropical climate . Commissioned by a nature-loving family, the Home by the Park adheres to the teachings of Vastu Shastra, a traditional Indian system of architecture that champions the integration of architecture with nature and recommends spatial arrangements to improve the flow of positive energy. Located on a linear east-facing plot, the Vastu-compliant home spans 7,050 square feet across three floors, with the bottom-most floor partly buried into the earth because of the 3-foot change in elevation between the east and west sides. Related: Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India To visually connect the home to the adjacent park to the east, the architects inserted three gardens — the elevated front garden, the central rain courtyard and the rear private garden — so that all of the main rooms in the home enjoy access to nature. The centrally located rain courtyard is a double-height space open to the sky that serves as a light well and connects to the living areas on all floors. In addition to a variety of seasonal plants that provide year-round interest, the rain courtyard also features a sculptural fountain with a waterfall feature and has become haven for birds that nest in the trees and shrubs. The driveway, garage, storage room and home theater are located on the lowest floor. The next floor comprises the main living areas, including an expansive kitchen split into wet and dry sections; a guest en suite with a living room that connects to the rear garden; dining area; the master en suite bedroom; and the prayer room located opposite the rain courtyard. The top floor houses three additional bedrooms, a family living room, an outdoor terrace and a U-shaped walkway that provides views into the rain courtyard.  + 4site architects Photography by Petrichor Image Labs via 4site architects

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A light-filled home in India embraces indoor-outdoor living

Where to order vegetable seeds online

April 2, 2020 by  
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My grandfather always liked to garden, but he ramped up his vegetable production during World War II. Many folks at the time grew what they called “ victory gardens ” to supplement food shortages and ration cards. Nowadays, with COVID-19 raging on, people are similarly starting pandemic gardens. If you’re thinking of starting a garden or adding to your existing plots, here are some tips on buying seeds online. “There’s a huge number of people looking for planting information right now,” Melody Rose, an editor at Dave’s Garden , told Inhabitat. “We’ve seen an uptick in members who have slipped away coming back.” Related: New gardener advice and suggestions So far, supply chains are holding. While toilet paper may be scarce, there’s still plenty of food. But why not start a garden? If you’re sheltering in place anyway and you have some outdoor space, this healthy habit will connect you with the earth, get you safely outside and provide food in the coming months. Rose talked with Inhabitat to share tips for starting a garden and finding the best places to buy seeds online. What to plant If you’re new to gardening , you might not know what to plant. My early gardening attempts involved grandiose dreams of winning county fair prizes with exotic vegetables, none of which wanted to grow in my yard, as it turned out. That’s because you have to know your turf. Thanks to a neighbor’s enormous oak tree, I get less than the ideal amount of afternoon sun. So after some trial and error, I know to stick to kale , peas, beans and lettuce. Lucky enough to have more sun? “Beginning gardeners will have good luck with squash and cucumbers if they have a sunny spot outdoors and the seeds can be planted directly in the ground,” Rose said. “Beans are easy to plant outdoors, you just need at least a dozen plants to do much good, and probably more. Lettuce and radishes are quick and easy, and you can plant seeds several weeks apart to ensure a crop for a longer time.” Vegetables grow best with at least eight hours of full sun every day, Rose advised. “Afternoon sun is preferable to morning sun. I plant my vegetables where they get full sun all day, but I know that isn’t an option for some. Lettuce, radishes and spinach will do okay with a little more shade, especially when the summer temps get really hot.” Some plants are more high-maintenance than others. “Tomatoes and peppers are a bit tricky to start since they require several weeks under lights indoors,” Rose said. If you’re new to gardening, it’s better to minimize start-up costs and see how your new hobby goes. If it turns out you constantly forget to water and weed, you’ll regret buying a bunch of lights. Garden choices also come down to taste and whether you have enough space to grow a sufficient number of plants. What good is a bountiful bean harvest if you hate beans? And what good is one plant if you can’t harvest at least a single meal’s worth of vegetables from it? “Being Southern, I like okra,” Rose said. “It needs warm summers, but grows well and few pests bother it. Each plant will provide one or two pods every day all summer . You’ll need between one and two dozen pods for a family of four, depending on how they like it.” Where to buy seeds online Toilet paper companies aren’t the only ones experiencing increased demand. Seed companies are feeling it, too. “Good companies are having a huge surge in mail orders,” Rose explained. “I know that Baker Creek had to shut their portal down over last weekend just to catch up with orders.” Rose recommended a few vendors she’s ordered from herself. “I have nothing but good things to say about them,” she said. “I think all of these companies are having a good sales year.” Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds , based in Missouri, began in 1998 and now offers about 1,200 varieties of heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers. Try the purple lady bok choy and atomic orange corn. Iowa-based Seed Savers Exchange started with tomato and morning glory seeds brought by the founder’s grandfather from Bavaria. Johnny’s Seeds , which is 100% employee-owned, began in the attic of a New Hampshire farmhouse in 1973. Kitazawa Seed Company , founded in 1917, is the country’s oldest seed company specializing in Asian vegetables. People who start seed companies are a special breed. It takes a lot of passion and perseverance for small, organic companies to go up against huge, conventional seed growers. I recently ordered seeds from Wild Mountain Seeds in Colorado, after sharing an Uber Pool ride with the one of the owners, who was en route to an organic seed growers conference. Wild Mountain specializes in heirloom tomatoes and sturdy seeds that can withstand colder climates. Because of the pandemic-related upsurge in seed sales, keep in mind that these and other companies might be slower than usual in delivering, out of stock and/or might have to temporarily close ordering to catch up with demand. Rose recommended checking out any unfamiliar seed company in the Garden Watchdog rating database on Dave’s Garden. You can even narrow your search to specific plants. Beginner gardening tips Rose suggested starting small and properly preparing your soil . Too much ambition and too little knowledge could put you off gardening forever. “One of my husband’s employees decided that he and his family would plant a garden last year and he had a huge plot tilled up,” she said. “They battled weeds, bugs, raccoons, rabbits and deer. The ground wasn’t prepared properly and they chose a location that was shaded in the afternoon. Needless to say, it was a huge disaster.” If possible, test your soil before planting. The Old Farmers Almanac offers DIY testing advice . Otherwise, Rose recommended incorporating well-rotted manure or a commercial fertilizer with a 10-10-10 rating. Even if you don’t have a proper plot, you can still container garden. Just be sure not to pick containers that are too small or shallow. “A tomato plant needs the minimum of a five-gallon bucket and a gallon of water every day to produce,” Rose said. “A squash plant is similar.” Microgreens are an option for people who have no outdoor space and/or lack green thumbs. Microgreens are nutrient-packed plants that require only a tiny container, a handful of soil and a sunny windowsill . “I think microgreens would be an easy and nutritious option for lots of people,” Rose said. “Easy, very little equipment and fast turnaround.” Whether you’re an indoor urban gardener or have an acre of land, there’s never been a better time to get your hands in some cool dirt and grow something nutritious to eat. + Dave’s Garden Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Eco Warrior Princess

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12 tips for a vibrant spring garden

February 13, 2020 by  
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When the frost begins to thaw and the first signs of spring appear, it’s time to start thinking about your garden. While it’s true that many of your plants won’t fully come to life for another six months, the more you can knock off your list before spring, the better off your plants , lawn, and schedule will be. So even if you’re still enjoying cozy time in front of the fire, consider tackling, or even preparing for, some outdoor chores during breaks in the weather. Weeding If you live in a snow-covered area, this task will have to wait, but if the thaw is on it’s the perfect time to tackle the first round of seasonal weeds. Since the soil is soft before the heat of summer cements it in, pull weeds and invasive grass for a jump start to the  spring weeding. The earlier and more frequently you pull them, the easier they are to control throughout the season. Related: 11 unique edible plants for your garden Building  If the weather outside is still too severe to work the ground, there are still ways to prep your garden from within the cover of your workshop. Plan and build trellises, arbors and raised beds in preparation for the planting season. Fencing If the heavy frost is past, dig into that fence-building project. Your post hole digger will glide through the soil much easier early in the year than it will if you wait until August. Plus, your garden space will be protected from wildlife and domestic animals before you even get the seeds in the ground. Transplanting It’s important to get your plants established before the growing season begins so they are ready to accept nutrients and thrive. Deciduous trees and shrubs still in their dormant season can be moved as long as the ground isn’t too frozen or too wet. Evergreen flowering shrubs such as rhododendrons, myrtles, azaleas and camellias can be moved once the threat of frost has passed. Organizing Even if you can’t check weeding or planting off your list, late winter is the ideal time to care for your lawn and garden supplies. Choose a reasonably agreeable weather day and empty the garden shed or supplies from the garage. Wash planting pots and allow them to dry. Clean and add protectants to tools. Also, sharpen blades and take an inventory of trimmer string and similar supplies that need replacing. Reorganize tools and supplies and donate unneeded or duplicate items to your local Habitat for Humanity reStore. Also, create a planting calendar so you have an idea of the workload in the upcoming months. Organize your seeds in a box in order of when they need planting — whether you’re using indoor starts, a greenhouse, or direct planting. This is also the perfect time to order seeds or plants. Make sure to check out your local extension office for garden plant sales nearby. While you’re in planning mode, make a list of desired projects for the year and create a workable timeline for each, complete with a budget. Edging Lawn edging is another task that is much easier in soft soil so tidy up the edges around all lawns and add a border if it’s in your plans. It will make mowing and other maintenance much easier throughout the season. Deadheading As your plants begin to rise from their winter slumber, deadhead last year’s growth as appropriate for each plant. Trim off spent blooms you may have missed in the fall, including the foliage from  ornamental grasses . Also, remove the faded flowers from winter pansies and other current bloomers to extend their blooming season. Caring for fruit February and March (if this is winter in your area) are the time to get root plants in the ground. This includes blueberries and raspberries. For fruit trees, protect them from the birds by adding netting before the fruit begins to develop. It’s much easier to cover plants and trees before they fill out with a full bloom. If you already have established berries, go ahead and cut them back now as the growing season begins. Pruning trees While we’re discussing trees, late winter is still a dormant time where trees respond well to pruning. It’s also easier to see the growth pattern of the branches so you can select which of them needs to be trimmed back. Avoid pruning spring-blooming trees  until after they have completed their bloom season. Pruning shrubs and climbers Now is also the time to trim back ivy, wisteria and other climbers as well as hearty shrubs like boxwood. Creating a shape now drops care down to a maintenance level for the season , meaning you will just need to monitor its growth, feeding, and watering. Feed the birds Even though the temperatures may be starting to level out or rise, the birds are still foraging for food so give them a handout. Clean and fill bird feeders with quality food to keep them coming back for more. Dig a pond If you have set a goal of putting in a pond or other feature, dust off the design and get digging now. Again, you’ll find it much easier to create a hole in soft soil than rock hard tundra . If it will be a while before you finish the task, make sure the hole is properly covered to avoid accidents. Via Thompson and Morgan Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Plants to give your loved one this Valentine’s Day

February 7, 2020 by  
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Valentine’s Day is a time to shower your loved ones with thoughtful gifts to let them know how much they mean to you. While jewelry, chocolate and roses have traditionally been associated with the holiday, that special person will surely appreciate a gift that lasts longer — a houseplant. There are so many options of colorful plants that give the gift of fresh air and reminders of your love for years to come. Plus, houseplants are a sustainable, zero-waste option the planet will appreciate, too. Here are some ideas that could make this Valentine’s Day romantic and also thoughtful for both your partner and the planet. Heartleaf Philodendron When you decide to give a living plant for Valentine’s Day, it makes sense to choose one with heart-shaped leaves. There are around 200 varieties of philodendron, so look for one labeled ‘Heartleaf’ or ‘Sweetheart’. Not only does it fit the theme of the holiday, but it’s very easy to care for and keep happy. The heartleaf philodendron requires low to medium light and is forgiving if you forget to water it occasionally. Related: How to make an enchanting terrarium necklace to keep or give as a gift Cyclamen While the heartleaf philodendron does not produce a bloom, the cyclamen produces an attractive display of papery flowers with a heart-like shape. Standard colors are pink, red, burgundy or white, but there are many hybrids available. The flowering cyclamen blooms in the winter, which is perfect for Valentine’s Day, and it will re-bloom year after year with proper care. It is a bit of a fussy plant, preferring controlled temperatures and precise watering. Hoya Kerrii This ‘sweetheart’ plant is the perfect gift with distinctively heart-shaped leaves. Although the Hoya kerrii is often sold as a single-potted leaf, you can obtain this as a plant, too. Like most succulents , it has low-maintenance requirements in low light and moderate temperatures. Green Nephthytis Another evergreen, heart-leaved option is the Green Nephthytis. Fortunately for your recipient, it is easy to care for, and this vine works well in a pot on a bookcase or in a hanging basket. Anthurium In addition to heart-shaped leaves, the ‘flowers’ are also heart-shaped, so this plant offers double the love. Plus, it’s a striking plant known for its almost fake-looking waxy leaves and vibrant blooms. Provide anthurium with a bright space outside of direct sunlight in a humid environment, and you’ll get a cycle of blooms each year. Related: Valentine’s Day flower deliveries come at a huge cost to the environment Phalaenopsis This type of orchid brings a “wow” factor to your gift, with unique, long-lasting blooms that are available in a variety of colors. Because they typically bloom from late winter well into spring , Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to get a phalaenopsis settled into place. They prefer filtered light and consistent water. Golden Pothos Another “hearty” (or hardy) plant to grow, the Golden Pothos is likely to be around for decades. As a trailing vine, it will thrive on the top of a cabinet or in a hanging basket. Although it prefers bright, indirect light, it will likely adapt in a darker environment or accept fluorescent lighting as its light source. The golden pothos is also forgiving if the watering schedule isn’t quite followed. Succulents Succulents make a great gift, especially on Valentine’s Day. They have the ability to provide tropical appeal without asking for much in the way of care, and they bring a feeling of zen to any space. Succulents make a statement, so giving one as a gift offers an experience for your sweetheart that will last long after the rosebuds would have faded. Seeds or Bulbs If you require a smaller gift, your love interest is in the middle of a move or you’re shipping something across the country, why not consider seeds or bulbs? Especially for those who enjoy gardening, seeds or bulbs will likely deepen a connection between your sweetheart and you based on your thoughtfulness. You can also plant the seeds or bulbs and allow your gift to grow with the seasons. For example, tulips likely won’t be above the soil level for several more weeks, but your loved one will think of you when those plants finally bloom. Daffodils and crocus are two options that might be blooming as the holiday arrives, depending on where you live. As you shop for plants this Valentine’s Day, check with your local nurseries for advice about what plants to purchase and how to care for them. One benefit of shopping locally is that many selections will already be potted, eliminating the plastic packaging and pots. Of course, there are many online merchants who ship plants and aim to minimize waste, so do your research and email companies if you have any questions. Images via Shutterstock

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Plants to give your loved one this Valentine’s Day

Fiji’s Cousteau Resort launches a new botanical program for guests

November 8, 2019 by  
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For travelers who want to learn more about the environment they are visiting, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort , a leading eco-luxe property in Fiji, is helping guests do just that with a recently expanded program for botanical education. Guests to the resort can take new tours, where they learn about medicinal and edible plants as well as rare palms. The initiative is part of a larger goal to protect the island’s natural environment. “At our resort, we’ve felt firsthand the great impact nature can have on the mind and the body, so we’re trying to preserve the traditional knowledge of this area, and, in turn, preserve culture,” said Bartholomew Simpson, general manager of the resort. Related: Jean-Michel Cousteau eco resort showcases traditional building Billy Railala, the resort’s expert on traditional herbal medicine , leads the Fijian Medicine Walk. The resort has offered this walk for several years, but recently expanded it to feature more than 120 species of Fijian medicinal flora and fauna. For example, the bark and stems from Fagraea berteriana flowers, or “bua ni viti,” are pressed into liquid and used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems. Fijians dry and burn a feathery bamboo called “bitu,” then mix the ashes with coconut oil to treat burns. Liquid from the small tropical tree Syzygium gracilipes , or “leba,” is used to increase fertility. Edible plants like papaya, guava, taro and avocado flourish in the resort’s two-acre organic garden. Kids can participate in an organic farming program and dress up in chefs’ uniforms to help prepare their own meals. The resort has also been collecting rare palm trees endemic to Fiji. Most are threatened, critically endangered or even extinct in the wild. Horticulture expert and nursery manager Jim Valentine is working with the resort to propagate these rare palms and repopulate Fiji with them. Simpson said, “This initiative not only serves to pay homage to Fijian culture, which is a key mandate of the resort concept, but also serves to remind the younger generation of Fijians of the important uses of these plants and how the elders used them in centuries past; preserving the fragile Fijian culture , which is eroding quickly in the modern age.” + Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Images via Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort

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First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

November 8, 2019 by  
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Milan-based architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti has unveiled innovative designs for a nature-infused smart city in Cancun, Mexico that will serve as a model for resilient and sustainable urban planning. Created for Honduras-based textile conglomerate and property developer Grupo Karim, ‘Smart Forest City – Cancun’ is a proposed alternative to plans for a shopping district in the area. The masterplan would reforest a 557-hectare site — currently used as a sand quarry for hotels — and create mixed-use development that would be completely food and energy self-sufficient. The proposed Smart Forest City – Cancun would house 130,000 residents as well as 7,500,000 plants of 400 different species selected by botanist and landscape architect Lauri Gatti. More than 200,000 trees would be planted to create a ratio of 2.3 trees per inhabitant, while the remainder of the vegetation would be mostly shrubs, bushes, green roofs and vertical gardens. “Thanks to the new public parks and private gardens, thanks to the green roofs and to the green facades, the areas actually occupied will be given back by nature through a perfect balance between the amount of green areas and building footprint,” the press release stated. Related: Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design With help from the German company Transsolar, the mixed-use development would be surrounded by a ring of solar panels that provide enough renewable energy to meet the residents’ needs. The city would also include an agricultural field belt that wraps around the urban area. The fields would be irrigated by a water channel fed by an underwater maritime pipe and treated with a desalination tower. Parking for traditional vehicles would be located on the city periphery; a MIC (Mobility in Chain) system would provide internal electric and semi-automatic vehicles to transport residents and visitors throughout the development. As a testing hub for sustainable urbanism , the Smart Forest City – Cancun proposal includes a center for advanced research large enough to host international organizations, university departments and companies. The center would include research and development facilities dedicated to sustainability issues and green infrastructure. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti and The Big Picture

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First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

These glass vases let you grow your own avocado tree no toothpicks required

November 8, 2019 by  
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While most home gardens tend to conceal the roots within decorated pots, Ilex Studio ‘s new collection of glass vases displays one of the most underrated parts of a plant — the roots. The studio’s transparent glass vases, which can be used to grow avocado and oak trees, feature minimalist silhouettes with spherical bases that showcase the plant’s incredible root systems. Recently unveiled at the London Design Festival , Ilex Studio’s collection was designed to let people skip the prickly process of using toothpicks to grow avocado trees. Additionally, the vases can be used to turn a humble acorn into a magnificent oak tree. Related: AvoSeedo makes growing avocado trees easier than ever Unlike most home gardens , where the plants’ roots are buried deep in the soil, these glass vases let you watch the magical powers of sprouting seeds. The hourglass shape has a small neck, where the avocado seed or acorn sits. The strategic shape lets the seed or avocado stay nice and dry up top while the roots begin to sprout below. Did we mention that there’s no need to stick anything with toothpicks? Over time, the roots begin to spread out into the water. Letting the roots hang freely allows them to become stronger until they are eventually ready to be planted in soil . The bulbous shapes of the vases actually magnify what is going on inside, giving you an up-close view of the roots as they grow. The Avocado Vase is slightly larger than the Acorn Vase, but according to the studio, the growing pattern is similar for the acorn and the avocado tree. The oakling can be left in the vase for up to one year, but growing an avocado tree is a bit more complicated. They both come with instruction booklets to guide you through the process of growing your own trees, straight from the seeds. These playful growing vases cost between £22 and £35 (about $28 to $45), with the larger avocado vase costing a bit more and the vases sans acorns costing less. Each order comes with a 20-page handbook of helpful instructions. + Ilex Studio Via Design Milk Images via Ilex Studio

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These glass vases let you grow your own avocado tree no toothpicks required

Sead Pod offers grassroots solution to air pollution and global warming

November 5, 2019 by  
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Gardening should be good for the environment, adding oxygen to the air, nutrients to the soil and filtering water for consumption. But plastic and toxins have become ubiquitous, leaving the home gardener to make intentional choices about which products to use. That’s where Sead Pod comes in, a vertical garden made using sustainable practices and recycled materials . Sead (Sustainable Ecology, Adaptive Design) Pod offers a simple plastic planter for bringing gardens into the smallest spaces while reusing plastic, which is problematic for the environment. The pod simply clips on to any chain link fencing, providing water efficiency from the vertical garden design while diverting plastic from the landfill. Related: This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive “The Sead Pod represents a new way of thinking about green design in an urban context,” said Bryan Meador, Plant Seads’ Founder and Chief Design Officer. “By reimagining existing architectural elements like chain link fencing as a tool in the fight against climate change, we’re able to leap into the green movement immediately, fighting climate change at the grassroots level and making our cities cleaner, healthier, and more livable—right now.”  Based in Kingston, New York, Meador is familiar with the limitations of urban gardens so he designed the Sead Pod to jump start the urgency of climate change. What he described as “the sluggish response of government and multinational companies” lead him to take action, experimenting with 3d printing and rapid prototype development to finalize the design . Proving his self-labeled impatience, Meador had the Sead Pod designed, manufactured and released in less than nine months. “Our generation is the first to be born into Climate Change. This crisis is not hypothetical to us, and we’re tired of waiting around for others to address this issue in a meaningful way,” Meador said in a press release.  With lofty goals of tackling CO2 emissions at a grassroots level, the Sead Pod gives everyone the ability to contribute to the solution. Imagine every chain link fence in your community covered in greenery and you begin to see the potential. The pods also connect to chain link material the size of a picture frame and Sead Pod offers five sizes of sead frames to suit the needs of every home and office. They are designed to be durable for long-term use even when exposed to harsh elements, not to mention, they are recyclable at the end of their life cycle. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Thursday, October 31, 2019 8:59 PM PDT. + Plant Seads Images via Plant Seads

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Sead Pod offers grassroots solution to air pollution and global warming

Reclaimed materials star in this surf villa with ocean views in Bali

November 5, 2019 by  
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The blissful charms of the Uluwatu Surf Villas have been elevated with a recent expansion that includes new villas designed by German architect Alexis Dornier in collaboration with Tim Russo. One of the additions is Puri Bukit, an ocean-facing, four-bedroom villa with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean in Bali. Built with reclaimed timber and locally sourced materials, the building blends traditional Balinese architecture with contemporary design. Located atop cliffs overlooking the ocean in southwest Bali , the Uluwatu Surf Villas were created as a luxury surfer’s paradise with premium villas, bungalows and loft accommodations. The 50-room retreat includes a mix of private and for-rent accommodations, the latter of which are categorized as Cliff Front villas, Ocean Front villas and Jungle View villas that range from one to four bedrooms in size. Related: This contemporary light-filled home feels like an extension of Bali’s tropics Dornier’s recently completed Ocean View 3 (Puri Bukit) villa measures 295 square meters and includes four master bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, making it one of the larger spaces on the property. Punctuated with a skylight, the tropical, modern villa is flooded with natural light and emphasizes indoor-outdoor living with large sliding glass doors that open up to views of the Indian Ocean. Guests can also enjoy access to a private, 40-square-meter saltwater pool. The open-plan living area includes a dining table that seats eight as well as custom-built sofas and a custom art piece by surf artist Andy Davis. As with the other properties, the villa was built with 100-year-old reclaimed teak from Java, reclaimed ironwood from Kalimantan, andesite, terrazzo and local limestone. “The center of the roof is crowned with a generous skylight that illuminates the expansive, centrally located living room,” reads the project statement. “While the main living area flows toward the outdoor pool side terrace and garden, the central core of the house corresponds to the prevailing linear axis running from the ascending entrance stairway, through the main living hall and all the way toward the sea.” + Alexis Dornier Photography by kiearch via Alexis Dornier

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Reclaimed materials star in this surf villa with ocean views in Bali

Clean your plants and reap the reward of clean air

November 4, 2019 by  
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Although cleaning house plants probably ranks somewhere between wiping down the blades on the ceiling fan and cleaning out the gutters on your to-do list, it’s a chore that’s critical to the plant and, one could argue, to humanity. Let’s go back to science class for a minute in order to understand why a clean plant is a productive plant. Remember that little thing called photosynthesis? Leaves are a central organ in the process. Technically, the stomata, which are small openings all over the surface of the leaves, absorbs carbon dioxide. At the same time, the chlorophyll in the leaves absorb sunlight. The process of photosynthesis then converts the water and CO2 into sugar plants need to grow and oxygen we need to breathe. That’s a long way of saying that dusty, dirty, grimy leaves on your house plants can result in dusty, dirty, grimy air in your home. So bump that chore up your list a bit. Here are a few ideas of how to accomplish the task with spending endless hours wiping down every individual leaf.  Take a shower Your morning shower is likely a rejuvenating ritual and your plants share your affinity. After all, it’s natural for plants to storm the rain, absorb the water and experience a cleansing. Take that concept inside by moving your plants to the shower. You can join them or place plants into the bathtub and use a detachable shower head to do the job. Give each plant a thorough soaking with cool to lukewarm water, allowing the water to both wash the leaves and provide moisture to the soil. Do not use hot or cold water that can be too shocking for the plant. Once saturated, give each plant a gentle shake to remove standing water on the leaves. Allow plants to drain into the empty tub and wipe off any excess water from the pot before placing it back on furniture. If you do not have drain holes in your planter, strain off excess water from the soil to avoid root rot. Related: This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive Grab a feather duster Like every other surface in your home, the leaves on your plants will collect dust. It’s best to provide regular dustings rather than trying to deal with a thick layer of dust down the road. When feather dusting, lightly move over the surfaces of the plant , weaving between branches to touch the top and bottom of leaves. Use caution so you don’t disrupt blooms or knock healthy leaves off the plant.  Take them outside Another mess-free way to clean your plants is to take the task outside. Put your plants in a shady spot in the lawn, on your deck or patio. Use a shower setting on your garden hose to wash the plants, give them a gentle shake, and allow them to dry before bringing them back indoors. Often the water pressure from any of these showering techniques causes some of the soil to slop out. By completing the chore outdoors, clean up is a breeze. Just bring your plants indoors and hose the area down.  Use the sink The kitchen sink may or may not be an easier option than the shower, but the concept is the same. Use your faucet nozzle set to spray for a shower effect on each plant. You will likely have to wash plants in a rotation if you have more than two or three. Allow plants to drain and dry off pots before removing them from the sink and then start on a new batch until they are all cleaned.  Use a mister Not all plants can easily be moved to the bathroom or outdoors due to size and other factors. The deep soak isn’t necessary on a regular basis either, so in between showers, give your plants a spit bath with a mister. Any spray bottle set to a mist can provide the moisture, humidity and cleaning your plants need. Keep a spray bottle filled for this purpose. Some plants won’t respond well to showers, like those with spiky or furry leaves. For these plants, use a mixture of dish soap and water on a regular basis to keep the leaves dust free. Cleaning is more than removing dust Once you’ve set aside the time to give your plants the TLC they deserve, make sure to check in on their general health and not just their personal hygiene. Remove any dead leaves from the plant and the soil below it. Dead leaves can contain bacteria and contaminate otherwise healthy soil. Also check the leaves of your houseplants for bugs and insects. Similarly, watch for bugs being flushed away while you wash your plants. If you see insects on your houseplants it might be time to treat them. Sometimes you can only see evidence of very small pests or disease so look for symptoms like black spots, webbing and sticky or curling leaves. Healthy plants provide healthy air, so make the commitment to care for your plants with regular dusting and a cleansing shower every now and then. Breathe in the victory of your efforts.  Via Apartment Therapy Images via Adobe Stock

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Clean your plants and reap the reward of clean air

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