Samantha Mair is the passionate horticulturalist behind Miss Henderson. Working from her Beaconsfield greenhouse, she pairs indoor plants with handmade and vintage ceramic pots, and provides consultation in a bid to create greater appreciation for, and long-term relationships with, plants.
“Miss Henderson is a family name; my great, great grandmother who was a plant woman,” says Mair. “She propagated a succulent and it’s been passed along in my family for over 130 years.”
The succulent is now in Mair’s possession, although she only learned of this story after having already retrained as an environmental horticulturalist.
Mair sources all her plants directly from nurseries and growers in NSW and works closely with mostly Australian ceramicists to source beautiful, high-quality pieces with which to pair them. The vintage pots in the range are Italian, from the ‘60s and ‘70s. “There’s a personality around these plants, and it starts with the planter; thinking about where it’s come from, who’s made it, the texture, the feel and the colours involved,” she says.
From there, they are given names. “I have one, Shirley, who is a pink hanging plant and I just thought, ‘that’s a Shirley’. Other times I think more about where the plant or planter originates. So I had Conchita who was a cactus in a Spanish planter and I have Paola – a ponytail palm, which originates from Mexico.”
When it comes to advising on the correct piece for a home, office or commercial space, Mair considers a few things with her customers. “Generally I think people see something that they really like and they buy it, and then it tends to fail because it’s not the right plant choice for that space,” she says. “So I think about their interior space: is it light or dark? Is it big or small? I try to guide people on that first, and then also consider people’s horticultural and plant skills.”
The health benefits of plants are many, and aside from them removing toxic air pollutants, Mair thinks just surrounding yourself with greenery is nourishing. "If you’re sitting in front of a computer all day, and you can turn away and look at green plants, they help to refresh and calm.” With that in mind, as we stare at our screens, it sounds like we could all use a little bit of Wanda, Betty or Bruce in our lives.
Miss Henderson is at the Paramount Building Rooftop Markets, Surry Hills, on the last Saturday of every month. Products are also available online at misshenderson.com.au and are deliverable to the Sydney area.