Heather Droke, owner of Garden Vignettes, has been creating gardens and living floral works in Chattanooga since 2000. Trend caught up with her on some recent projects and the importance of incorporating nature into our day to day lives even if we spend much of our time indoors.
Trend: What are the benefits of plants in the workplace?
Droke: Everyone knows plants clean the air, but they offer much more to a space than health and looking pretty. Some of the benefits that professionally installed and maintained plants can bring to your environment include:
- Research shows plants actually increase productivity. Employees who can see greenery from their work space complete tasks up to 12 percent more quickly. Workers are less stressed than those who aren't exposed to greenery. Live plants that are professionally maintained result in a happier team and increased productivity. What business owner or manager wouldn't want that?
- Live plants can reduce energy costs by providing shade and insulation to regulate temperatures and minimize heating and cooling.
- Live plants reduce noise levels, so this is great for open floor plans, shared spaces and restaurants. Using planters as dividers or barriers can reduce noise by five decibels. Reduced distractions of surrounding noise can enable people to focus on their tasks and be more efficient.
- Plants lower cases of respiratory conditions and headaches caused by indoor air pollution, therefore lowering occurrence of sick days.
As we spend more time indoors, humans need to connect with nature. This is known as biophillic design. When humans connect with nature, we see reduced fatigue and stress, less sick days and an overall feeling of happiness.
T: What are the benefits of plants for people in stressful environments, such as hospitals?
D: Plants in hospitals or doctors' offices help to purify toxins in the air as well as mold, dust and bacteria. They combat Sick Building Syndrome not only for patients but staff as well. These buildings or offices see high levels of stress and can have detrimental effects on patients and employees, and studies show hospitals with plants can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, therefore aiding in patient recovery.
T: What’s a favorite Garden Vignettes project you’ve worked on? You’ve done work for several area hotels including The Dwell and The Edwin, playing a role in setting a certain feel for people visiting our area. Talk about that experience. Are there certain plants, arrangements, etc. that you purposely use because you feel they reflect Chattanooga?
D: We have worked on some amazing projects, but recently we installed all the plants at The Edwin Hotel. The plants made the new hotel come to life and is a true example of how professionally installed and maintained plants make a big difference for any space.
We have recently added MossWalls to our services for commercial and residential spaces. These are great for areas with limited floor space to still feel connected to nature. They are made with preserved mosses and elements such as lichen, wood, airplants and preserved flowers. I designed one with the Tennessee River with the Market and Walnut Street Bridges so there's connection to the city. The MossWalls come in all sizes and shapes and are custom-designed.
T: This is an unusual job – how did you find yourself doing this?
D: I studied Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design and knew I wanted my own horticulture business someday. After college I continued to work for other companies in the landscape, nursery and interior plantscape industry learning all area of the field until starting Garden Vignettes in 2005. GV started as a garden accessory shop on Frazier Avenue but after the economic downturn of 2009, I realized that Chattanooga had a great need for a boutique landscape design company. Our mission is to bring more plant life to Chattanooga and to create lush spaces that refresh and invigorate the senses.
Plants are one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to transform an environment, and I feel so lucky to play a role in designing and loving interior and exterior spaces.