Biophilia - the art of bringing the natural world into everyday life

PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 June 2020

Plants play a key part in interior design.

Plants play a key part in interior design.

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North Yorkshire writer Sally Coulthard is your guide to green living in a new book

Illustrations from Sallys bookIllustrations from Sallys book

We’ve been hearing a lot about Florence Nightingale in the past few weeks. In these extreme times, her nursing philosophy has returned to the psyche of the nation.

Vast, cavernous emergency hospitals may seem a long way from meadows and fields of wild flowers, but her legacy was one that put the well-being of patients at the forefront of healing.

Nightingale recognised the power of nature in healing and in her book, Biophilia, North Yorkshire-based writer Sally Coulthard includes a timely quote from the revered nurse which reflects this:

‘I shall never forget the rapture of fever patients over a bunch of bright-coloured flowers…

The power of plants in the homeThe power of plants in the home

‘People say the effect is only on the mind. It is no such thing. The effect is on the body too.’

This connection with health, wellbeing and nature is at the heart of Sally’s book and no doubt chimes with us all, as she explains:

‘If you ask people to imagine a place where they feel happy and relaxed, many describe a warm, sandy beach or woodland walk.

‘Some might conjure up images of camping under the stars, picnicking by a stream or pottering in the garden.’

Biophilia by Sally CoulthardBiophilia by Sally Coulthard

This is biophilia, to give it it’s grand name. Sprinkle it over your home and work life and you’re a step closer to a connection that is good for mind and body says Sally.

‘Understand biophilia and you grasp just how important it is to walk in the woods, breathe clean air and stare out beyond the horizon. We need nature much more than nature needs us,’ says Sally.

The book looks at how the concept of biophilia works both in the home and workspace for the benefits of all.

It explains how light and temperature affect our space and how natural materials used in interior décor can add to the sense of calm in a room.

Ensure space puts you indirect contact with nature: flowers, plants, a real fire or fresh air breezing through a door

Embrace things in your living space that remind you of nature – patterns, colours, materials and textures

Connect to nature’s rhythms – let in as much natural light as you can make the most of outdoor views, live in tune with the seasons.

The natural connection:

Being connected to nature can:

Reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol

Improve attention performance in children and adults

Calm the mind and boost self esteem

Encourage children and adults to develop healthy lifestyle habits 

Biophilia: You + Nature + Home by Sally Couthard is published by Kyle Books, £14.99, octopusbooks.co.uk

Plant life

There’s been a surge in the number of young people caring for plants and filling their home with them says Sally.

‘Indoor plants may just be the perfect antidote to our digitally driven lives. Looking after something living, that needs sustained care and attention to thrive, gives young people that chance to reconnect with something tangible and real – a trend that is being echoed in the popularity of other ‘physical goods’ such as books.’

Decorate with living plants:

Hang houseplants from the ceiling using suspended canopies, hanging terrariums or macrame baskets

Free up floor space with wall-mounted planters or floating ledges

Make a grand statement with oversized planters, zinc pails, log basket and florists’ buckets

Cluster plants on a table or bench with grouped ceramic vases, glass bottles and jars.

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