Photo: Tamara McDonald.

Kermodi

Living art.

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Kermit the Frog once sang that it isn’t easy being green. At Kermodi, that couldn’t be further from than the truth. Part shop, part showroom, nestled on Powell Street at Victoria, Kermodi makes interior gardening as simple as possible for the horticulturally hopeless. Owner Abby Eyolfson started the company selling low-maintenance moss gardens at Granville Island, tapping into a niche of plant-loving patrons with two left hands and no green thumbs. Since laying down roots on Powell Street three years ago, Kermodi has become a tropical oasis in an otherwise underwhelming industrial neighbourhood.

Tall tangled grasses sprout in all directions from the concrete containers outside the steamed-up store window. Inside, southern sunlight fills the bright space, flooding the white walls and hardwood floors. The air is foreign and humid, but certainly not rare, though the plants may be. There are prickly cactus needles, explosive shoots of yucca cane, drooping beaded tendrils (a “string of pearls” plant), plump jade leaves bubbling from their branches, and blossoming tillandsias and bromeliads. Each plant has its personality. They are potted in architecturally astute ceramic, stone and plexi planters, and occupy all degrees above and below eye level. It is a conspicuously living, breathing space, but somehow, above all, it is delightfully calm.

That is the second goal of Abby Eyolfson: to increase the design quotient of her customers’ living quarters with beguiling, tranquil greenery. She calls her plants “living art”—something no home is complete without. Step one: get to know the brightness of your room. Step two: visit Kermodi. They’ll not only find the right plants for you, but also won’t let you walk away without their handy care instruction cards. Still not sure? Eyolfson and her team are more than leaf-spritzing, soil-packing planters (although they do that with charm too), they are adept at customizing whole homes and patios, and always keen to keep in touch, even long after a purchase.

Coming from as far as Florida, Mexico, Arizona, South America, South Africa, and beyond, but nursed locally, Kermodi’s plants are an incredible reminder that the sun does exist—something that can be easily forgotten in this rainy city of ours.

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March 19, 2010