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The 'Arctic Gardener' explains why it’s time you turned to indoor plant therapy

By Anders Røyneberg

Photo: Getty

With tens of thousands of fans on Instagram and two bestselling books to his name, not to mention hundreds of houseplants, Anders Røynberg is one of Scandinavia’s leading advocates for turning your home green

“What’s so great about having so many plants?” That’s the question I’m often asked on Instagram, where I go under the name @arcticgardener. It may seem a bit crazy having 300 houseplants at home, I can see that. But I do have a philosophy underlying this horticultural extravagance.

Plants are good for me in more ways than one: I’m inspired by their beauty, happy that they produce oxygen and purify the air around me, and they make me feel calmer. Research shows that plants can improve mental well-being — there’s even a GP surgery in the UK that prescribes plants for anxiety and depression.

Photo: Getty

My love affair with plants started in earnest during a break-up in my mid-thirties. Everyone who has been in a relationship knows how difficult and painful this can be. I ended up moving into an old apartment building in Oslo, which was slowly but surely transformed into a miniature botanical garden.

From my daily work as a therapist and trauma specialist, I know that many are looking for a kind of endless state of happiness. It is constantly proving to be an impossible goal. In fact, it is a goal that makes us unhappy, because we will fail, no matter how hard we try. Happiness is not eternal or constant. It comes as small glimpses of good feelings and is not something you can own over time.

I do not claim that you will be happy with plants alone. But plants can make you experience moments of contentment and excitement, what I call everyday happiness. At least, that's how it is for me. When my beautiful monstera deliciosa shoots out a large, heart-shaped and dazzling green leaf, I get really happy! While others get the feeling of happiness from fixing a car, making new dishes in the kitchen, having children (or making children), I get a good feeling being surrounded by plants. And I know there are lots more plant lovers out there.

Life is less lonely with plants

I was not aware of it when it happened exactly, but today I have no doubt that the plants helped me feel better and enabled me to process my emotions. The more I cared for my green plants and made them grow and thrive, the more respite and distance I got from the break-up.

Today, I consciously use plants to feel joy, tranquility and satisfaction, but also to process grief, irritation and other difficult feelings. Maybe you also seek nature, garden work or look after your houseplants yourself if you are in a job related dispute, have had an argument with your partner, or want a boost of energy and well-being.

People's need to process emotions in contact with and with the help of nature is referred to as ecological love and sorrow, as mentioned in the Ted talk “A Love Story” by the Norwegian Knut Ivar Bjørlykhaug.

Plants make people happier.Anders Røynberg

Because whether there is trouble in interpersonal relationships, or you are far away and miss those you love, plants are living beings, just like us. If you are surrounded by plants, you are not alone. Plants can not replace human contact, but help make both the world and everyday life a little better, especially in difficult and stressful periods. Plant care is manageable whether you are at the top of your game or have reached rock bottom. Being with plants is always healthy.

Plants for the people

In the last couple of years, my boyfriend, Erik, and I have traveled around and given shows on living with green plants. Lots of different types of people come to listen, which is something I really appreciate. The interest in green plants has become public property. I think it's about the desire and need we have to take care of the nature around us, and to experience plant love. But perhaps most of all, it’s about a longing for the tranquility of nature.

Photo: Getty

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