Stepping into the leafy surrounds of Verdant Dwellings, the first thing you notice is the air quality. Fresh, crisp and earthy, the air is purified by hundreds of plants covering the floor and climbing the walls of the jungle-like space. It’s an experience that feels delightfully unexpected in the back streets of Dromana.
Owners Jeff and Lauren Nielsen aren’t just plant enthusiasts; they’re experts with over 23 years of horticultural experience. Together, the husband-and-wife duo have created a thriving ecosystem, with many of the plants grown from seed, propagated, and nurtured into fully-grown specimens.
The nursery spans across two warehouses, housing a fully-functional growing space and a lush retail area. A sneaky peak inside the greenhouse reveals a complex watering system rigged up amongst a sea of cascading green foliage. Whilst the plants look straight out of a magazine, the focus is on low maintenance or “hard-to-kill”. There’s no point using grow lights and heat mats to keep the plants alive, only for them to wilt and die when someone takes them home.
The inviting retail space is filled with fiddle-leaf figs, tiger ferns, and variegated Monstera plants, alongside rare and hard-to-find plant varieties, or “mutants”. Collectors might come searching for unique and colourful species, such as the deep purple hues of the Oxalis Triangularis or Persian Shield. Those looking for an easy gift can shop a curated range of ceramic pots, watering cans, and plant care products, including locally-made vessels from Capra Designs.
Lauren’s top tip when purchasing plants for home? “Take lots of photos and download a basic light meter app to get an accurate reading of the light in your space”. That way, the team can help you select something that will grow and flourish. This isn’t your typical plant shop or hardware store: “When you visit us, you’re not just getting a guess. You’re getting expert advice and continued care”.
Those living further afield can have mature plants shipped fully potted, a service rarely provided due to complex agricultural laws and certification systems. “Most places ship plants bare-rooted, whereby most of the soil is knocked off to keep the package light, but it’s obviously not great for the plant,” explains Lauren. A natural tinkerer, Jeff has developed a boxing system that allows the plants to be shipped in their pots Australia-wide, meaning you’re not just opening a box of dead leaves. And if you’re on the Mornington Peninsula? They’ll even hand-deliver.
For those looking to up their plant game, Verdant Dwellings offer horticultural consultation, repotting and maintenance, servicing designer homes, restaurants and Airbnbs up and down the coast. Those visiting the Mornington Peninsula can see their thriving installations at Wildgrain in Mornington, Red Gum BBQ, Laneway Espresso in Dromana or Rebalance Wellness in Rosebud.