The Blessings of Botany
When we think of houseplants, we often put them in the same category as mere home decor, or even a hobby; but it is important to note that leafy green plants are much more valuable than normally given credit for! Botany has an intrinsic regenerative quality that benefits the environment for humans and animals alike, both mentally and physically.
Let’s take a brief look at how plants have made our world, our workplaces, and our homes a better place.
Did you know that simply being around plants and working with them can lower your stress levels? That’s right! Studies have shown that people who spend time around plants have developed significantly lower blood pressure and an increased level of psychological stability.
In our world of technology and informational overloads, scientists have come to recognize interior plants as a valuable relaxation tool that can counter the negative effects of the modern computer age. There’s just something about having nature around that makes us think more clearly, makes us operate more efficiently, and helps us feel better.
Indoor plants are growing in reputation as efficient and practical air purifiers. Seems to good to be true, right? The fact is, plants clean the air by absorbing toxic carbon dioxide and light energy in through the leaves; this the natural process of photosynthesis. But it gets better; plant foliage also absorbs other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, and other dangerous chemicals from plastics, carpet dust, and cigarette smoke.
Houseplants take in a bunch of airborne garbage, safely dispose of it, and then give back purified oxygen to be used once again by us. It doesn’t get much better than that! Some of the best varieties for cleaning the air include ferns, palms, snake plants, and peace lilies.
Okay, we aren’t going to just skip over the fact that houseplants can be simply gorgeous. If taken care of properly, a flourishing indoor plant can be the highlight of a room. For thousands of years, humanity has taken great delight in the beauty of gardens and cultivated plants.
The ancient Chinese used indoor plants as symbols of wealth and prosperity, as well as for general ornamental purposes. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon became one of the 7 Wonders of the World, displaying the glory of botany like none other. Ever since explorers have been traveling to and from the tropics, beautiful flowering plants have found their way into homes and palaces all over civilization.
It’s no different today! Elaborate sculpted plants, living walls, and other creatively arranged plants can dramatically increase the aesthetic value of a home or workplace, improve acoustics by muffling reverberations, and create an eye-catching focal point in a room.
Let Interior Plants Do Their Job!
Although many people are intimidated by the thought of taking care of plants, it really is a simple process. Some varieties may require special watering patterns, trimmings, or specific levels of humidity; but in most cases, care is minimal and the returns are big! A few minutes of research can inform you on the proper care for whichever varieties you have. And don’t forget the fact that working with and handling plants is great for your soul!
So, are you ready to give indoor plants a fair chance? Go for it, and experience the wonder that has captivated botanists since ancient times! Let every area of your life be enhanced by the benefits that greenery offers; cleaner air, clearer minds, and creative beauty. What could be a better choice for you, your friends, and family?
Holiday decorations are more than fun. They boost team morale by making the workspace cheerful and reminding employees that their bosses care about making their work life comfortable. Plus, it reinforces your image with anyone who comes in contact with your business. So when you hire someone to decorate your business, you’ll want to discuss with them how you will get all these benefits. The team will likely want you to consider the following:
The top of everyone’s list should be safety. No one wants the holidays to turn into a threat to people. The decorating team will want to know where exits are so they can avoid blocking them with decorations. They will also have to know where your fire sprinklers are so that they can avoid blocking or damaging them. On a more legal note, your design will have to comply with OSHA regulations, which includes keeping exits clear and avoiding overloading electrical outlets. One OSHA requirement to keep in mind is about any temporary wiring that you use for decorating: it has to comply with the same rules as permanent wiring, except it must be taken down before 90 days are up.
On your end, you might want to check that your fire extinguishers and other safety equipment are in working order before the team arrives to put up the decorations. You will also need to remember to turn off any illuminated items every night before you go home. Electrical items can catch fire if they are allowed to burn when people aren’t in the building.
Team morale may get a lift from seeing snowflakes in the lobby, but it will plummet if employees have to step over the snowflakes all day in order to do their job. Ultimately, your office is a place where people have to get their work done, and you don’t want to interfere with that. Before your corporate design team shows up, you can do a quick tour of the building to find places that should be avoided. For instance, people often take shortcuts to get from one place to another because it is faster, and putting a Christmas tree in the middle of the shortcut will catch people off-guard. You also want to avoid cluttering necessary work surfaces.
You know your employees, so you know that you have hired many types of people. Some of those people might not celebrate a particular holiday. It’s always a good idea to poll your employees to find out which holidays should be decorated for. That way, your employees know that you respect their history and care about them individually (as opposed to assuming they all celebrate the same way you do.) You can also go the route of avoiding referencing specific holidays: stick with snowflakes and fake snow in the winter, pine cones, and cornucopias in the fall, and daffodils in the spring. It creates the same festive spirit without leaving anyone out.
It is important for another reason to be mindful in your holiday decorations: a lot of the decorations will be in public spaces where your customers will see them. You don’t want to make them uncomfortable.
Consistency With Your Business Image
Your corporate image doesn’t change just because a holiday is approaching, which is great because corporate holiday design is a way to reinforce that image. A tasteful, luxurious holiday design will reassure your customers that you are a respectable, prestigious business. A colorful holiday design will make customers feel like you are a fun, modern business. Want your customers to know that you are in touch with their traditions? Decorate for the same holidays that most of your customers celebrate. Want your customers to associate you with good times? Add a few quirky touches to your holiday design. You will have to work with your decorating team to create the image you want.
With these tips in mind, your corporate holiday design is sure to boost morale and your image.
A more efficient company or office simply gets more productivity and quality work done at the end of the day than an inefficient one. It doesn’t require a larger team, just better work habits.
To develop true efficiency, you must respect regulatory requirements and financial limitations without creating an unsafe workplace. OSHA checklists and the administration’s free on-site checkups help, but your soft skills as an executive and your ability to teach team members by example increase efficiency and productivity the most. You can help every person in your organization to boost efficiency. You can implement these tips and pass them along to your team. Create a formal program, if needed.
Team Member Productivity Tips
The right skills and techniques raise the efficiency and productivity of every team member. Don’t forget that the business owner and/or C-level executives count as team members, too. People will do what they see you do, not what you tell them to do, so lead by example. Here you’ll find tips to increase your efficiency and productivity.
- Determine what you can delegate and do it. Of course, train the person in how to do it properly first, but you can boost your efficiency by assigning small, time-consuming tasks to properly trained personnel or to an automated (artificial intelligence) system.
- Make a prioritized to-do list. Provide a sense of accomplishment by checking off items as you complete them. Set hard deadlines for each item and make yourself stick to them. Monitoring your own productivity lets you assign rote tasks or errands to times you’re usually least productive.
- Get a good night’s sleep every night. Play with the number of hours to determine your needs. Not everyone is the same. For example, entrepreneur Elon Musk sleeps six hours per night. Some people need eight hours though. Find what works for you. Set a specific time to go to sleep each night and stick with it. Do the same with your waking time. Setting a routine for this and sticking with it lowers stress.
- Start the day before. Layout the next morning’s clothes the night before. Make and pack your lunch the night before. You can add flow to your morning by taking care of the little things the night before.
- Follow the two-minute rule. In small pockets of free time, if you have something you can do that literally requires two minutes or less, do it. It doesn’t matter its priority. It’s about knocking something off the to-do list.
- Jump-start your efficiency and your body by taking a five-minute break every 90 minutes. Stand up, do some stretches, jumping jacks, go for a walk. Simply get moving. Sitting for long periods reduces the levels of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL) in the body, It helps break down fat and convert it to energy. Sitting around causes fat cells to build and your energy level to decline.
- Disconnect from social media, email and the telephone. Set a time period during each day for completing communications. Do it and then turn off your devices. If you must, set a short break time each day for checking on these items, perhaps an hour before the end of the business day. That gives you the opportunity to return calls or address problems before the close of business but ensures you don’t waste your day sucked down the rabbit hole.
- Minimize workday interruptions. Guard your time. It equals money, self-development, and success.
- Limit the meetings you attend to the bare minimum. If you’re the meeting organizer, hold a standing meeting. At these short meetings, everyone stands.
- Choose snacks that give you a lasting energy boost like almonds or peanut butter. Eat an omega-rich fish for lunch. Both coffee and green tea offer health benefits plus caffeine. Try each and determine which one works better for you.
- Spend a few minutes each day in meditation or deep thought. Five or ten minutes benefits you with clearer thinking and lower stress.
- Monitor your own progress. Find the methods by which you get the most quality work done each day and keep at it. You can always improve efficiency and productivity though, so don’t fear trying new methods of getting more done.
- Tweak your surroundings to boost efficiency and productivity. Use brighter light bulbs. Add your favorite color to your workspace. Organize using colored folders or bins. Dress up your workspace with a plant or two. Proper aesthetics can result in up to a 25 percent productivity boost.
Implementing these tips at the organizational level and with each team member can boost efficiency and productivity. You can get more quality work done more quickly. It just requires planning and execution.
No one can deny the importance of plants, not only for us as humans but to our planet as well. And yet, there has been an obvious decline in young adults seeking out degrees in horticulture. Likewise, the horticulture departments at major college campuses are disappearing due to lack of participation. This has created an interesting paradox. As more millennials are becoming environmentally-conscious while also seeking a solid career path, why not kill two birds with one stone? Few of these students realize the numerous career paths available to those with a degree in horticulture. Here we take a brief look at what is horticulture, all the different career paths a person with a horticulture degree could pursue and how more horticulturalists could save the world.
What is Horticulture?
Horticulture can be defined as the practice of cultivating fruits, vegetables, flowers or plants for beauty or utility. Truly, it is part art and part science. Horticulture encompasses the process of planting the seeds into the earth, ensuring the soil provides the nutrients that the seed needs while watering, sheltering and nourishing it as it grows into a plant. When successful, the seed grows into a plant and will reproduce in some fashion whether, fruiting, flowering or producing clones. The plant’s offspring can then be used in numerous different ways depending on the industry. What is interesting is how far horticulture can reach within different aspects of society across cultures.
There are five main branches of horticulture:
- Floriculture- production/marketing of flowers
- Landscape- production, marketing and maintenance of landscape plants
- Olericulture- production/marketing of vegetables
- Pomology- production/marketing of fruits
- Postharvest Physiology- Expertise in how to prevent produce from prematurely spoiling.
Horticulture does not only impact the food industry. The pharmaceutical, landscape, lumber, floral, and clothing industries are just a few of the industries that fall under the umbrella of horticulture’s influence.
How Horticulturalists Save the World
“If you want to save the planet, one of the best ways to do it is through horticulture,” said Angus Murphy, Chair of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland at College Park. What did he mean by that? Plants help re-oxygenate the planet and can have dramatically positive effects on the environment. For example, if an area is prone to flooding because of rainfall. You can plant a tree in that location. The roots will absorb the excess water like a sponge, while the leaves will act like little umbrellas. Not to mention, when you facilitate the growth of plants, you are literally helping to generate life which is a pretty commendable and amazing thing.
In an effort to bring much-needed attention to the field of horticulture, organizations are sprouting up and using social media campaigns to attract youth participation and also bridge the gaps between horticulture and “cooler” industries. The younger the people are that get interested in horticulture, the sooner they can begin forming their career goals around horticulture with a sense of clarity and purpose.
What are Some of the Career Possibilities?
- Arboretum Director/Associate
- Botanical Gardens Manager/Grounds Associate
- Business Owner
- Community Garden Planner
- Extension Educator
- Farmer of Specialty Vegetables/Fruits
- Floral Designer
- Greenhouse Manager
- Garden Manager
- Garden Center Operations, Sales, Maintenance, Landscaping
- Golf Course Superintendent
- Horticulture Therapist
- Horticulture Marketing/Sales Manager
- Landscape Design
- Lawn Maintenance Foreman/Technician
- Master Gardener/Landscaper
- Plant Biologist
- Plant Breeder
- Produce Retail Team Member
- Research Scientist
- Urban Garden Manager
According to a study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2015, nearly 58,000 jobs become available each year in agriculture-related fields but only 61% of those jobs are filled by qualified candidates. With so many students entering college and graduating college, horticulture could provide a viable avenue to make it inside the industry of their choice.
Cityscapes has consistent openings in the horticulture departments with training provided. For more information, check out our careers page.
There is something inherently rewarding about growing and attending plants, even on a minimal scale. It is nurturing and gratifying in it’s own completely unique way. You get your hands dirty and you help produce something. You help life, you help the planet and you help yourself at the same time.
Artists, designers and environmental visionaries have all been known to use plants as functional, beautiful pieces of art. As more people become aware of biophilia, the beneficial relationship between humans and plants, there’s an increasing awareness of and appreciation for these amazing installations. Here are five fascinating “living art” destinations across America and Canada.
University of New England’s “Breathing Wall”
At the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, students enjoy walking by and gazing upon a magnificent living wall that measures over 400 square feet and contains more than 960 plants. This thriving living art not only helps to purify the air but also provides a calming, stress-reducing focal point. Nicknamed the “Breathing Wall”, the installation features five different varieties of tropical shrubs and is enjoyed by teachers, professors and visitors alike.
Chicago’s Rooftop Wheat Prairie
Rooftop gardens usually feature small trees, flowers, or even vegetables. But one Chicago architecture and urban design firm took rooftop gardening to a new level: Studio Gang worked with a team of local designers to install and maintain an entire wheat field on their rooftop. The massive project, covering almost 5,000 square feet, featured winter wheat, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees. This mini-prairie became a thriving ecosystem that successfully produced a staple crop: students and volunteers harvested more than 60 pounds of wheat, and the grain was taken to a local mill where it was ground into high-grade pastry flour. This rooftop green space is not just functional, but beautiful, too. Known as “The Treehouse”, the rooftop is also one of Chicago’s most popular event spaces.
Eco-sculptures of Burnaby
Every summer in British Columbia, residents of Burnaby are treated to the sight of ‘eco-sculptures‘, a living art fusion composed of metal framework, soil, and plants. The sculptures are placed around the city in public parks and other community areas, and they represent animals from the local area and around the world. Horses prance at Deer Lake Park and bears lumber at the base of Burnaby Mountain. Locals love their signature sculptures, and they play an active role in building them. Horticulturists and designers create the metal structures that form the basis for each sculpture, and then stuff them with soil and cover them with landscape fabric. Then, everyone pitches in to insert various plants according to the artist’s directions. The result is a beautifully growing piece of living art. The
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
This 158-acre botanical garden located in Madison, Wisconsin, features themed indoor and outdoor gardens, a tropical conservatory, sculpture gardens… and an incredibly large and diverse collection of carnivorous plants! The Kenneth E. Nelson Carnivorous Plant House features the ever-popular Venus Flytraps, along with pitcher plants, sundews, butterworts and other meat-eating plants from around the world. While eating lunch or sipping coffee, visitors can also enjoy a living plant wall in the garden cafe. The vertical structure was recently installed in 2017 and continues to delight guests today.
A Giant Living Bouquet in New York City
Imagine driving the bustling streets of New York, and then coming face to face with a 40-foot long, eight-foot-tall giant flowering bouquet! That’s exactly what New Yorkers saw this spring thanks to the “Broadway Bouquet” installation created by a local landscape design firm. Instead of the ubiquitous cut flowers that make up a typical bouquet, this living bouquet was composed of small trees and flowering shrubs. The temporary bouquet was created as part of the NYC/DOT Car Free Earth Day event on April 21 and illustrated the boundless possibilities of living space that would normally be taken up by a stream of traffic and cars.
These magnificent gardens, living art installations, and thriving sculptures are just a few examples of biophilia at work. Whether you live nearby or are just passing through, make sure to visit and experience these wonders for yourself.