- The front yard of Hemed Said is to be coveted.
- Overflowing with flowers at every corner, everything from pots, bags, or recycled containers, is a display of color.
- To counter the gloom of the pandemic, Mr Said found joy in beautifying his front and backyard, now similar to a farmer’s paradise.
The front yard of Hemed Said is to be coveted. Overflowing with flowers at every corner, everything from pots, bags, or recycled containers, is a display of color. To counter the gloom of the pandemic, Mr Said found joy in beautifying his front and backyard, now similar to a farmer’s paradise.
With over 200 plants, elegant croton, beloved coleus, exquisite begonias, hardy snake plants, and brightly colored petunias, among others, his collection makes any nursery owner green with envy.
For three years, his neighbors thought he was crazy as he built his mini-forest one pot at a time, until the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Suddenly my neighbors started asking to buy my precious plants,” he says.
Not wanting to sell his precious possessions, Mr. Said opened a 10,000 shillings nursery and became an entrepreneur in a field that was born out of passion. Although slow at first, sales gradually picked up.
The Mombasa resident is one of many gardeners turned entrepreneurs.
During the closings, gardening drew millions of new participants to the world seeking to escape a litany of deaths and bad news. Many have remained converted.
The new surge in interest in gardening has now spread to entrepreneurship.
“I have always gardened, but the extra time and money saved during lockouts allowed me to supplement my plant family. It was also a period of bonding with my children, ”says the father of two.
“The sight of these wonderful flowers is enough to reassure you,” he says.
The impact of her garden has been felt publicly as her neighbors take in the beauty of the garden as they walk past her house.
Brenda Wanga from Ongata Rongai in Nairobi is another gardener. She put time and intention into her garden and ended up revising it for around 140,000 shillings.
With two children, gardening provided her with the perfect mindfulness activity for them and the much needed rest and therapy from her job.
“I didn’t want to garden, I only did it when I had time,” says the journalist.
“However, as I scrambled my hands tending to the plants that I watched the flowers grow and die, I saw how limited our lives are. It prepared me to face the looming fear of death that threatened to close in on us.
The result was a serene little garden where her children played. On her, she cultivated long-lasting flowering, fragrant plants and colorful foliage such as geraniums, daisies, canna lilies, elephant ears and climbing roses.
The demand for connection with nature was also evident to the plant vendors. Gardening classes have flourished, and the websites and social media pages of online plant suppliers have had a stellar year.
“We have seen a more than 50% increase in orders for our plants since last year,” says Danson Seet, Marketing Director of Ythera, an online store that sells indoor and outdoor plants and fiberglass and self-irrigating planters.
A majority of their clients were those looking to add to their existing plant collection, with gardens and balconies, and commercial clients working on interior ideas for apartments and restaurants.
For Dotty Maina, a mother of four and passionate gardener, 2020 has been a year of redesigning her two-year-old garden which is teeming with colorful marigold, crotons, carnations, hydrangeas and poinsettias, among others.
The experience begins at the door. Its choice of plants and flowers make it a wonderful starter.
The outdoors-loving chemical engineer made raised beds for his flowers, moved around the plants, added bespoke outdoor swings and benches, fruit trees, and potted plants and flowers. It was an investment of between 150,000 shillings and 200,000 shillings. She also increased the amount and variety of vegetables she grew for her family’s consumption.
“It’s been a year since we bought leafy vegetables, onions, lettuce and herbs like parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,” she says.
For these gardeners, however, their abundant spaces are not just healing balms from the pain of being separated from their families, a calming distraction for their anxious children, and a source of nourishment. They have also become sources of income.
After remaking her garden, Ms. Wanga started sharing photos of her new beauty on social media.
“Someone messaged me and asked me for advice on designing their garden,” she says.
It was three months after the start of the pandemic. More photos later, a customer called to purchase a plant. Before she knew it, she was getting questions from people who had just started gardening or who were remodeling their homes.
Taking note of the presented opportunity, Ms. Wanga and a friend registered Libre Plants_Ke, a company that offers vegetable concierge services.
Whether offering advice to future gardeners, the company now offers indoor and outdoor plant solutions for offices, homes, balconies and gardens. “Whether someone wants indoor plants and flowers for their outdoor garden or a balcony garden, we are able to meet their need,” explains the new entrepreneur.
So far, Libre Plants_Ke has redesigned three gardens and shipped hundreds of unique plants and pots to homes and offices.
They started the business with 400,000 shillings. Their bestsellers are houseplants, especially snake plants and succulents, with most of their customers being novice gardeners or nature lovers.
A small potted plant goes for Sh400 while large pots range from Sh12,000 to Sh15,000, depending on the type and size of the flower.
“These plants in particular rarely die, no matter how neglected, which makes them popular,” she says, adding that the adoption of the company has been “good”.
One of the reasons Ms. Wanga started the business was her own experience with landscapers who “cost the buyers on a budget”.
Ms Maina also harvested from her garden as a co-founder of Doch Limited, a company registered last year.
Besides selling flowers, people also buy its fruit and vegetable plants.
“Gardeners buy plants that die because they don’t get the proper information on how to care for them,” she explains.
“Sometimes the sowing is just wrong for the climate in which you intend to grow it. Yet the seller won’t tell you. “
Mrs. Maina only sells what she has grown and eaten. This allows him to understand the challenges posed by the factory.
Prices start from Sh3 to Sh25 for vegetable plants, Sh200 to Sh600 for herbs and spices and Sh50 to Sh3,500 for flowers. Planters are sold for Sh100 to Sh300.
She was also driven by a desire to help people optimize space, especially in townhouses. On an eighth of an acre she has avocado trees laden with fruit, miniature fruit trees from which she has already harvested the produce, but the trees are no more than a yard tall. Its vegetables are grown in multi-story gardens, vertical gardens, pots and planters.
“The design of my multi-story gardens was patented and I installed 20 of them,” she tells me over a cup of hibiscus tea made with hibiscus flowers straight from her garden.
But that’s not all. Recently someone approached her and asked her to use her garden for her wedding photoshoot.
“I was visibly shocked.”
She realized the mini-paradise she created after the happy couple took photos sitting on their Arabica grass and outdoor furniture against a colorful background of their plants, trees and flowers.
His garden also hosted a musician shooting a video. Talk about nature taking with one hand and giving with the other.