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Jun 2011
Garden For Your Office


HAVING run a business for over 10 years, I’ve had my share of stress. But compared to friends, I guess I’ve had it easier.

You may think, well, the difference lies in the type of work, but if you’re running a business like I do, I can safely say the problems, worries and frustrations are pretty similar and it doesn’t matter if it’s a large factory or a small enterprise. I design gardens for a living, so my office, not surprisingly, is also used as a showroom for prospective clients. If you visit my workplace, you’ll be stepping into a garden. My office is filled with plants, mood lighting and bubbling water features.

I showcase new designs or prototypes, experiment with different lighting methods or automatic sprinkler systems, or test new tissue-cultured plant specimens in indoor settings. The net effect of all these elements of nature flourishing within my work space is that it unconsciously uplifts the mood. Of course, I try not to be biased when analysing this so my conclusion is in no way a scientific study. But try asking my staff how they feel when they step into the office every day. Or the many clients I’ve entertained over the years. If there’s one thing that first-time visitors remark on, it’s always how wonderfully fresh and inviting my office is. I guess we have become so accustomed to living in “boxed-up” homes with concrete walls and tall fences that we carry the same mentality to our workplace. Yes, even big bosses work in a box — it’s merely larger.

Little wonder then why managers and decision makers experience just as much stress as regular employees. Being cooped up all day in a concrete box, even with nice pictures on the wall, is not too pleasant.

But imagine having a bubbling water feature next to your desk? Imagine having your favourite plants in the corners? Imagine clients telling you how fresh and inviting your office is? Green’s good for your nerves If I know most people, I can almost hear their reaction. “Sure or not? Put plants or water feature in my office, will have to get somebody to maintain them lah.” Well, yes. Just like how you get the photocopier serviced or hire cleaners to keep your office tidy, a garden in your office is an asset that requires maintenance. But here’s where good planning comes in. First, the choice of plant matters. If your office does not get much sunlight, then shade-loving plants are a better choice. Otherwise, you’ll have to rotate them every so often and place them in the sun, or install strong artificial lighting.

Second, the choice of planting media, apart from soil, is important to keep an indoor garden, especially wall-mounted vertical gardens, tidy and insect-free.

One advantage of having an office garden is that you require very little space to reap the benefits. Perhaps it’s the novelty of having a garden indoors but whatever the case, just greening a little corner of your office room can pay dividends.

Because of its typically small size, an office garden is easy to maintain. In fact, you can even install an automatic watering system and you won’t have to lift a finger.

OK, I’m exaggerating. You still need workers to trim dead leaves, clean the pond or fertilise the plants. These days, as many corporate offices try to “green” their buildings through innovative, power-saving features, they often forget to include green as part of the ambience. A thriving indoor garden not only improves the green index, but also soothes nerves and uplifts the mood of your employees. Don’t be surprised then if you start enjoying being in your office after work hours!

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