I have so many vivid memories of my mom dutifully watering dozens of plants throughout my childhood home. She would meticulously flutter about like a hummingbird, making sure every single potted plant had enough love and attention. You could bet on there being at least two houseplants in every room. From a Christmas cactus in the dining area to a 15-foot ficus in the living room, I can’t remember a time when there weren’t leafy fronds in the Pishal household (there were even plants on the back of the toilet!). Even though I was surrounded by so much greenery at a young age, I never really appreciated the simplicity and beauty of plants until I started decorating my own place as an adult.
Websites and Instagram accounts like @thesill and @jungalow have fueled my recent passion and appreciation for foliage. Each page showcases dreamy spaces filled with gorgeous vegetation and boho trappings. It’s easy to lose yourself while scrolling through their Instagram profiles, daydreaming of those cozy, sunlight-infused rooms featured in every post.
Atlanta recently joined the plant scene with a new shop, The Victorian, owned by Libby Hockenberry. Tucked away in a sunny corner of Ponce City Market’s Citizen Supply, her little plant store is bringing a whole lot of happiness to the city. Over the long weekend, I caught up with Libby to chat about her budding business (see what I did there?).
Where did The Victorian begin?
I have always been a plant person since as long as I can remember. My mom was always tending to her plants indoors and out when I was a child, so I think it’s something that was just ingrained in me from the start. She was constantly rooting new plants all over the house that she would eventually pot and give away as gifts. I’ve since transferred my love of plants to Cary, who wasn’t familiar with them at all when we first started dating, but now I think he’s a bigger plant nerd than I am in some ways.
What inspired you to launch a plant brand?
After growing our collection of plants in our own home, we decided that Atlanta needed a really cool plant store where people could spend an afternoon browsing and collecting green inspiration. Cary and I do a lot of traveling and we always make time to seek out interesting plant stores and nurseries to see what types of treasures we can find. There are so many amazing little plant shops out there and we felt like Atlanta could use one.
What’s The Victorian’s mission?
We want to educate folks about plants and make everyone feel confident enough to start their own green collection. Plants are so important for so many reasons and having them in our living and work spaces is actually vital to our health and well being. Providing people with the knowledge to actually keep and grow their own plants is something we hope to provide to everyone who walks through our shop.
What are some of the actual benefits of having plants around?
Plants clean the air and filter many toxins out of the environment that we live and work in. They increase oxygen levels, release water into the air which helps with dry skin, sore throat and many respiratory distresses, and research has shown that they improve health overall and make people happier.
Do you have a favorite memory of plants?
Ahhh I have so many! Cary and I make it a point to visit the conservatory in each city we visit if they have one. We always spend hours in there collecting inspiration and soaking in the beauty that nature provides us with in all its wonderful shades and textures.
What if you don’t have a green thumb?!
I think a lot of people think that just because they have killed one or a few plants that they don’t have a green thumb, but just like anything else in life you can learn how to. I am always learning new things about each and every plant we have in our shop and our home by reading books, blogs and articles, also by trial and error! If you’re determined enough to want to start a plant collection you have to make time for it and accept it as a part of your lifestyle devote some time to learning about them!
Why are plants having their moment right now?
Indoor plants haven’t always been a thing. The Victorians were the first to bring plants indoors (thus our name) and ever since they have gone through waves of popularity. They were particularly popular in the 50’s and 60’s where they would often times be the focal point of interior decor. In the 80’s and 90’s they kind of disappeared, people weren’t into them and often times put fake plants in their place because they were easier and didn’t require care. But the newer generations of young people are starting to realize that plants make people happy and can be a game changer for interior design, so they’ve been making a comeback in the last few years for sure. It makes me super happy to hear how many people are wanting to start a collection and learn more about them, it’s why we do what we do. 🙂