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Published May 29th 2019
Plants for indoors, balconies, courtyards
Mappins is a plant nursery and aquarium right under the noses of Brisbane's inner city dwellers. And I suspect that many new apartment residents have yet to discover this hidden gem even though the business has been at its West End location for the last decade.
The street frontage for Mappins is deceivingly modest, but beyond the small entry-way with stunning cacti and water features, is a garden lover's paradise. A narrow path to the left showcases kitchen garden herbs planted vertically and adjacent are trees such as dwarf olive, banana, blueberry, and finger lime. The plant corridor leads on to peaceful water ponds, budding orchids, drooping Rhipsalis, delicate Dichondra "Silver Falls", and swaying hanging baskets.
This is a place to hunt down impressive plants for a small space like a courtyard, balcony or indoors as there are loads of ideas to inspire the inner city gardener. Whether it's an aromatic herb garden for the chef, vertical gardens for space-challenged balconies, or hanging baskets for those short of ground room, Mappins staff can advise you on how to best design your garden, no matter how small.
Vertical solution for a kitchen garden. Photo by author.
Out back, a doorway opens into an aquarium with fish to suit small tanks and bowls. Aquarium supplies, ponds, and plants are all available and staff are on hand to discuss the technical aspects of how to successfully maintain an aquarium and keep fish thriving.
Immediately next door is a magnificent terrarium room with a multitude of glass jars, miniature plants, moss, lichen and such. For those not inclined to create their own terrarium, there are readymade ones that produce an instant "wow" effect and make great housewarming gifts.
And while you're at Mappins, you must check out the extensive range of indoor pots, garden-related decor, and hanging plant baskets and sleeves. I will just warn you that you may not be able to walk out empty-handed.
A short history of Mappins
Owner Darryl Mappin has had his fair share of obstacles over the years. After the prolonged Millennium drought which virtually wiped out the plant nursery industry, he changed tack from landscape design with a specialty in water gardens to indoor and small gardens. But when Darryl moved his business from Kenmore Hills to West End, there was no forewarning of further strife to come. There was the global financial crisis of 2007/08, then the 2011 Brisbane floods that swept through the nursery.
However, the business has survived and today Mappins is an eclectic site (which explains the outdoor signage "Mappins Sharehouse"). Aside from the gardening and aquarium side of things, Darryl has incorporated his love of music and the arts by supporting local creatives. The interior walls of the warehouse building are adorned with music-themed murals and there is an art installation being planned.
Murals brighten up the Mappins warehouse space. Photo by author.
Other causes that are close to Darryl's heart are the Australian Rhino Project aimed at saving the rhino from extinction and the Queensland Children's Hospital where Mappins hosts kitchen garden workshops.
In keeping with the sharehouse idea, Mappins has a workshop space where classes are held on topics such as botanical sculpture, kokedama, terrariums, botanical wreaths, and ikebana. There are also areas on the premises to put together your terrarium, pot up your plants, or even use as a meeting place.