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‘Jungle shop’ inspired by love of plants

A passion for plants combined with an empty shop in The Depot, Thames, has turned into a successful business for Morag Standbrook, who celebrates one year in The Plantery shop this month. 

With a background in the horticultural industry working for Palmers garden retailers in Auckland for many years, Mrs Standbrook decided to open The Plantery when she sold the Savour & Spice shop in The Depot after many years.

“I thought about two things, me being unoccupied at home and this shop being unoccupied in here so I thought I’d try plants and see how they go,” she said.

“It’s something I’ve always done, grow plants and sell plants. I love it, I didn’t think I’d love it as much as I do.”

Sometimes described as a “jungle shop’, showcasing a range of tropical and indoor plants, planters and gifts, The Plantery has taken off in its first year in business – performing “very well in a horrible year” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I honestly thought after Covid I’d be closing it down – I just had a feeling that all the shops would be suffering, but it’s been incredibly well-supported by our awesome locals,” she said.

“But I don’t take any of this for granted, retail is an on-going and changing battle to keep ahead.” 

Covid-19 restrictions had also made it tough to find enough stock to keep up with demand, however, Mrs Standbrook and her husband John enjoy growing their own plants for the store in their greenhouse at home.

Indoor plants being currently on trend contributed to the high demand, she said.

“I knew it was popular, I knew it was a growth industry but I didn’t realise how much. I guess that took me by surprise,” she said.

“I think anything to do with health and wellness is a huge thing at the moment and having plants and green around you, lovely plants that help detox the atmosphere, I think this is what is driving it.

“Plus decor plays a huge part now too, there’s a lot of people who want that structural look that only plants can give.”

Indoor plants were usually hardy and easy to look after, she said.

“Once you get into a habit with them, they grow easily – more indoor plants are killed by overwatering than underwatering from what I’ve seen.”

The Plantery also has an online shop,, where orders are shipped throughout New Zealand in special packaging.

Mrs Standbrook said another part of her business she enjoyed was supporting other women in business.

As well as indoor plants, she also sells a range of giftware, painted pots and art in store. These include botanical gifts from Coastal Flair on the Thames Coast, handmade citronella candles from Halo Candles in Thames, Moncho Pots from Auckland and Mae Macrame in Nelson. Another business, Iron Garden, is run by a retired gentleman from Auckland who supplies The Plantery with recycled art. “I love his work too,” she said.

“I’m always trying to find artisans, that’s always been my way to try and find unique pieces locally supplied that take my fancy.”