Spending on greenery up as legions stuck inside
Plants are a part of everyday life in Korea, from being widely used as decorations at home and in cafes to people calling themselves “plant butlers.”
With more people stuck at home due to the pandemic and feeling depressed with the corona blues, many are turning to plants to find comfort.
According to a report released by Hana Bank's Hana Institute of Finance in December 2020, green hobbies, referring to the growing of flowers and plants, was one of the newest consumer trends last year. Due to an increase in home gardening and the popularity of plant-heavy home decor, sales at flower markets and fertilizer and seedling sellers January to October last year rose by 9 percent and 15 percent on year, respectively.
A recent episode of On & Off, a reality television program that broadcasts the lives of celebrities, gave viewers a peak into singer and songwriter Jung Jae-hyung’s house. Jung half-jokingly introduced himself as a plant butler, showing his huge collection of over 60 unique plants. Clips of Jung watering, repotting and taking care of his plants was aired on television.
More people have been considering plants as interior decorations. There Be, a flower installation exhibition which ran until May 9 at Alver, a cultural complex in Geumho-dong, eastern Seoul, attracted over 3,400 people. A huge three-storied-tall tower of flowers built in the middle of a disused building caught people's attention.
“We were surprised that so many people came to just look at our plant installations,” said Park So-hee, one of the florists who participated in the exhibition. “I think the visitors saw that the beautiful plant and flower installations worked well with the surrounding environment, admiringly viewing them as art.”
Sikmulsung, a cafe near Dosan Park in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul, is another example. The cafe is managed by an agricultural technology start-up N. Thing, showcasing basil and romaine lettuce grown using their smart-farm technology. It just opened this April, but has become well-known as a famous cafe worth visiting. Visitors come to the cafe to have a cup of coffee, but end up enjoying the tranquility of looking at the greenery.
Piknic, a cultural complex near Namdaemun, central Seoul, opened an art exhibit under the title of Gardening in April 24. Visitors can enjoy the view of outdoor gardens designed by Jung Young-sun, president of Seo-Ahn Total Landscape and Kim Bong-chan, president of The Garden. Plant-themed installations and graphic pieces by various artists are also on display for people to enjoy.
“It lifted my mood,” read one of the exhibition reviews. Another read that Gardening is a must-visit exhibition for plant lovers.
“I’ve always wanted to plan an exhibition revolving around the topic of gardening,” said Kim Bum-sang, president of exhibition planning company Glint. “I hope visitors feel a certain desire to tend their own garden after visiting the exhibition.”
People are going beyond just visually enjoying plants, but also rushing to buy them.
Plant Society 1 opened its pop-up store in Boon the Shop’s branch in Chungdam-dong, southern Seoul. The brand sells rare plants, unique foliage plants and gardening supplies. The pop-up store’s popularity was easily seen in the first opening day, with a long line of people waiting just to get in. Rare plants in Deux Garcons pots, a favorite for home gardeners, were sold out fast.
In a time and age where people can’t freely go outside, people naturally developed an interest towards gardening.
“People became interested in growing plants and flowers during the last few years, popularizing the market for plants,” said Choi Ki-woong, CEO of Plant Society 1. “More people started to focus on establishing emotional stability amid the Covid-19 pandemic.”
BY YOO JI-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]