White Papers ─── January 03, 2024

Plants Make People Happy: The Story of our Fig Tree

Author: Susanne Widdecke

Plants can improve concentration and productivity, reduce stress levels, and boost your mood. They bring nature indoors and help us to relax. The passion for caring for plants and living things is rewarding--seeing them growing and flourishing every day can provide a lot of personal satisfaction. 

Berry Architecture + Associates’ lobby presents a prime example of a healthy indoor environment, with an amazing Ficus Benjamina tree (weeping fig tree), standing 18’ tall and spreading its branches across the entire space.

This tree has been an important part of our office since 2002. Maintaining such a large plant for 20 years has provided us with many stories. At that time, Berry Architecture had an open, two storey high office space, and a client thought it would be a great idea if we would rescue this fig tree which had been abandoned inside one of his commercial buildings. The tree had not been watered in over a year and was growing roots below the concrete slab. We were told by staff from a local greenhouse that the tree was a lost cause and would not survive.

Together with summer students and my husband’s help in bringing a trailer, we dug out the tree and transported it to our office where an arborist helped us with root repair and replanting it into a large pot. The following days were not auspicious since our new plant, at the time about 14’ tall, lost all of its leaves—every single leaf! Every morning, we had an entire forest floor to clean up. There were days when we regretted the green investment.

After a couple of years, our tree forgave us and started growing new branches and leaves, becoming our pride and giving a leafy green shine in our workspace. 

In 2011, we moved into our new office building, and it was clear that we were not leaving our beloved tree behind. Again, we were told that the tree would not survive the move. However, with a Zoom Boom and lots of helping hands, we moved our tree into its new home and a well-deserved larger pot. 

Many visitors and clients admire our green indoors; and needless to say, the impact of caring and enjoying indoor plants is very rewarding and makes us happy. If you would like to check it out, come and visit us and sit in the shade of a fig tree!

Since relocating into our LEED Gold building with its outstanding indoor air quality, daylighting, and temperature controls, our tree has been thriving amazingly well. It blooms once a year, producing very small fruit (not edible), and grows about 2’ per year. This requires us to trim the plant every couple of years. We have added more plants to our space over the years, which are all thriving just as well as our tree--giving our workspace a wonderful indoor “nature” feeling.

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