According to famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism”.
Insightful? Yes. Wise? Probably. But I bet Carl didn’t know any gardeners.
A garden addiction is like no other. And you can trust me on that. I’m speaking from personal experience. Unlike traditional addictions — which tend to damage relationships, destroy careers and undermine health — an addiction to gardening has the opposite effect. It brings people together, fosters new livelihoods, and boosts mental and physically wellbeing. And yes, I know I sound like a proselytist for plants. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and it tastes good.
Among my fellow proselytists is Fesi Djojo. Co-owner of Bar Botanik and sister-in-law to Robert King (whose garden has previously featured in this column), Fesi knows the joys a rampant plant addiction brings. Her home overflows with green, leafy treasures.
Really, it is more jungle than house. If an alien were to audit the place, they could only assume the plants were in charge. “I counted my plants about a year ago,” Fesi tells me. “I got to over 560.”
Fesi’s been building her indoor garden for the past eight years. Her front room is filled with towering fiddle-leaf figs. Syngoniums climb their way up standard lamps. Armchairs lounge beside Elephant Ears. Chain of Hearts vines cascade from the second-floor landing to the kitchen below.
In a sunny corner, Fesi points out one of the newest arrivals, a Philodendron Ghost, so named because of its bleached-white leaves. These rare plants are a recent addition to the Bar Botanik collection and (understandably) a couple made it home with the owners too. “Robert and I both had to have one,” Fesi grins.
The jungle continues outside, where Rhipsalis hang like green curtains, and a clutch of New Holland Honeyeater chicks has made their home in the bushy stems of a Hoya pauciflora. “I built all this myself, even the pavers,” Fesi says proudly, nodding at the huge, round paving slabs set into smooth river stones. Elk horns intertwine with pitcher plants, creeping up the walls.
Like shifting sands, Fesi’s collection never stays still for long. “Most of my plants are in pots. I like to move them around,” she tells me. And there is a skill in this. Not a single pot looks out of place and, despite being packed to the rafters, nothing feels cluttered. Every inch of Fesi’s garden is lush, peaceful and beautiful to look at.
Thinking of starting your own jungle? Fesi recommends picking pots that are all the same colour, and if your indoor plants are plagued by fungus gnats, cut back your watering so the soil has a chance to dry out. For more inspiration, check our Fesi’s garden on Instagram at @fesi_djojo.