Green Thumb

How to use plant design to enliven your space

by Jessica Baker
Photographs by Holly Cowart
succulent native austin

I was on cloud nine. After finishing a six-month hustle of a remodel it was finally time to bring in the furniture and spread out almost 10 years of collected decor. It was all coming together. But of course…the weather changed, cloud nine floated away and I quickly fell to planet earth.

Even with all of the furniture, knick-knacks, rugs and lamps, I’d still fallen short of filling the space. The house I had just moved into had an 800 square foot open living area, and after hours of scooting, placing, fluffing and rearranging, it just wasn’t enough to pull everything together. I needed color, I needed more texture, and I needed something to liven up the place….and then I met Shannon.

Shannon Donaldson is the owner of Succulent Native, a house plant and succulent shop that’s home to unique arrangements and filled with inspirational foliage. I told Shannon about my interior woes, hoping she could sell me a house plant or two but instead she suggested a house call. “It can’t hurt, right?,” I thought.

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Ding-dong — A couple of days later, Shannon was in my living room opening curtains, checking lighting, and taking in the lay of the land. She was going to bring in enough green to fill the space and pull the design together. I was hopeful and excited, but how much difference would a bunch of cactuses and ivy really make anyway? Come to find out — all the difference.

succulent native austinThe next time we met she was carrying lush fiddle fig trees, rich dark rubber plants, succulent arrangements and the like through my front door with enthusiasm. She made her way through the house, placing potted plants everywhere she went, leaving a brilliant trail of green in her wake. She explained the placement of each plant according to the light, the windows and the contrast of colors in the furniture. She even pruned a few of the plants outside my home and used the leaves in an arrangement atop the mid-century bar I’d just scored from a local antique shop. “It’s called urban harvesting,” she said.

About an hour later, she had placed about 20 different plants and succulents, all various styles, shapes and shades of green around the house. succulent native austin The space was finally coming alive. The transformation is really striking. Where I’d fallen short on decor and artwork, the greenery filled in the gaps and raised the bar. The kitchen shelves were filled with life, the living room brightened with green and the design fused together by smart plant design. One of my favorite arrangements she’d incorporated was my grandmother’s old ceramic pot from the hills of Arkansas, spotted with holes for succulents. Shannon and her team at Succulent Native designed and planted a beautiful living “garden in a pot” perfect for the living room; and the perfect family heirloom to finish off the design with heritage and heart.

succulent native austin

Never in a million years did I think incorporating plant design would be what made the difference, and now every day I walk into the living room greeted with a home that’s truly alive.


Read More From the Interiors Issue | January 2019

tribeza january interiors 2019 austin

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