The Loft

The Home Base blog

Creative Vibes: Robert King | Lathlain

Take a peek inside the homes of inspiring West Australians


It’s one thing to give design advice for a living, but what do the experts do when it comes to planning their own abode?

Take a peek inside Robert King’s Lathlain home, co-owner of Bar Botanik.

Who or what inspired your love of gardens and greenery?

I totally blame my family for this green passion. Originally it was my grandfather who I lived with in Sydney, then my mother and mother-in-law influenced me to love my garden and to see it as both a relaxing and enjoyable exercise. Life losses, including these inspirational people, saw my passion diminish somewhat, however on moving to Perth with my partner, I was inspired again by the beautiful space created in the home of my sister-in-law and co-owner of Bar Botanik.

What indoor plants are you loving right now?

I get to see a lot of new and interesting plants as owner of Bar Botanik but my favourite plants remain some very old-fashioned ones, such as monstera. Monstera deliciosa is such a reliable indoor plant for any beginner grower. I have recently collected many others of the monstera family such as Monstera siltepecana, standleyana and ‘Thai Constellation’ and just love them all. I’m also a big fan of Rhaphidophora tetrasperma (or mini monstera) as well as all anthuriums and philodendrons.

Describe your personal gardening style?

I just love unfussy plants that thrive in my house without a lot of attention but I also like a challenge, so I guess I’m a bit of an eclectic indoor gardener. I will try anything in the house and
am constantly surprised at what grows well and what doesn’t.

No plants are really “houseplants”, they are all just adaptable shade-loving plants. I still love pottering in my garden outside but feel this is now somewhat neglected as I’m always at my shop.

If there’s one thing you could change about your garden, what would it be? Has there been a mistake you’ve learnt from?

I would give myself an extra day a week to work in my garden outside – there are never enough hours. Gardeners are always learning from their mistakes so they are too numerous to list, however if I had to list one, it is not to overwater my plants before I go on holidays. In the past, I have killed more houseplants this way than any other. Every gardener should buy a moisture meter to help them not to overwater their houseplants.

How do you keep your plants looking so lush?

Keeping an indoor plant alive and growing is totally achievable for anyone. It is just a combination of location, usually a good well-lit indoor position, correct watering and adequate pest control. Fertiliser then helps with the “lush”.

We’ve seen 70s houseplants make a huge comeback, what do you think the next trend will be?

As a child of the 70s, I absolutely love seeing this back-to-the-70s plant trend with plants that our parents or grandparent loved to grow. I feel that the next trend will see some of the rarer variations become more affordable and available to all, such as variegated monstera, Watermelon peperomia and Rhaphidophora tetrasperma. I also see a move to smaller compact houseplants that suit the needs of reduced living spaces, especially those that grow well in terrariums and hydroponics.

Why do you think greenery is so important?

Greenery in the home provides an environment that is more calming and peaceful, while looking after it helps reduce stress and gives enjoyment. As a mental health nurse for over 20 years, I can guarantee that greenery in the home will contribute to an improvement in your overall mental health and wellbeing.

What outdoor plants do you recommend for people who want big impact but don’t have time to maintain their garden regularly?

I would have to recommend plants that adapt well to our hot dry summers such as cacti and succulents. An alternative would be native plants or plants that are native to similar climate regions such as southern Italy, South Africa and Mexico.

What are the must-have plants for interior spaces?

Interior spaces need more than good plants to be successful. You need to start with good pots, plant stands and shelving and then you can combine this with must-have plants such as Monstera deliciosa, Strelitzia nicolai or Ficus lyrata. Also keep in mind other ficus such as Ficus elastica and Ficus binnendijkii which are easier to grow than the fiddle leaf and have equal impact. My personal favourite indoor plant currently is Anthurium plowmanii (waves of love). Unfortunately, this has a more horizontal growth pattern but is truly spectacular.

In spring, what should we be planting?

For outside gardens, you should be planting herbs, fruit trees and annuals. It’s also the best time to plant out a succulent or cacti garden. For inside gardeners, spring is a great time to trim off dead leaves and remove plants that haven’t made it through winter. Then head straight to your local nursery to see what exciting new plants they have found for you.

Where can we get our hands on good-quality plants?

Perth is so fortunate to have several family-owned and operated nurseries. Always try to support these local nurseries because they enjoy helping you find that perfect plant and matching pot for your home or that special present. At Bar Botanik we will also pot up the plant free of charge and can offer advice on plant maintenance.

Instagram: @addictedtogreenery @bar.botanik