Seb’s Urban Slumber – Bedroom Jungles Mean Better Sleeps

It’s National Bed Month here in the UK, so we take a look at how adding a few plants to your boudoir can lead to a better night’s sleep

March is a busy old month on the world-event calendar, home to both Women’s History Month and National Bed Month. It goes without saying that Seb’s Urban Jungle raises a watering can to all the amazing ladies out there, but in today’s blog, we’d like to focus on sleepy time.   

While the amount of shut-eye humans need varies depending on loads of factors, most adults hope for a solid 7-9 hours a night. Although, we sure know a few people who can hit an impressive 10-12 and above – you know who you are, friends. That means, on average, we spend almost a whopping third of our lives dozing, so it’s no wonder the Sleep Council created National Sleep Month to promote the importance of a comfy bed in getting good night’s kip – word!

But to secure that all-important 7-9 hours (or longer), tired souls need more than just a cosy spot to lay down their weary head. A combo of routine, pleasant environment, and minimized light & sound also helps big time – and so do plants. Experts have long known that our green buddies are great for both physical and mental health in a range of ways, and a handful of recent studies found they can lead to bigger Zeds too.    

One study even looked at the benefits of greenery to the poor mortals living in isolated environments, such as astronauts or deep-sea explorers. The researchers found that caring for houseplants, on top of interacting with them right before hitting the hay, can improve the quality of slumber. I think we can all agree this could prove mighty useful not only to the Aldrins and Cousteaus of the world but also to anyone still trapped in lockdown – at the moment, sooo many people sadly aren’t getting their full forty winks.    

For optimal results, we’d recommend keeping plants in your bedroom, especially close to where all that napping action goes on, plus elsewhere in the home. Be sure to interact with them on a regular basis too. Clean up debris, admire them, stroke their leaves, take in their scent, give them a drink – that sort of thing. And there’s zero shame in having a little natter with your leafy housemates over a cuppa. We all do it…right?

*Cough*

Just please don’t feed your plants tea or coffee – terrible idea!

A lot of different plants can help boost your snoozles, but those with green leaves and colourful flowers are probably the best way to go. Oh, and if they’re a treat on the nose as well as the eyes, even better!

We stock plenty of plants that’ll work as the ideal sleep aid, so if you’re in the market for a top kip, have a browse and pop a few in your basket. We’ve also got a nice selection of cool planters and other accessories to complement your picks – our I WILL SURVIVE mini-pot would be an especially apt buy right now. And to give your boudoir and rest the ongoing attention they really deserve, why not sign up for our monthly subscription? With this, you’ll receive at least one beautiful houseplant each month, alongside a perfectly fitting pot or basket. Happy days!

That’s it for today – if we ramble any longer, we’ll put you to sleep without the need for houseplants at all. Wishing everyone a pleasant trip to Bedfordshire tonight.

Words by Steven Allison

Let’s Get Something Straight – These Plants Aren’t!

Some plants are queerer than others, so we look at some flowery greenery defining LGBT+ culture over the centuries

In our opinion, every month is LGBT+ Month. But February, home to LGBT+ History Month, is easily the queerest of them all! Across a kaleidoscopic 28 (or 29) days, the world comes together to promote equality, diversity and inclusion by celebrating LGBT+ people, their history, lives and experiences. To stay fresh, every year has a unique theme, and in 2021, it was ‘Body, Mind, Spirit.’ 

Looking after this here jungle sure keeps our bodies, minds and spirits in shape, so for us, plants and all things queer were inextricably linked through fabulous February. To mark the end of this year’s LGBT+ History Month (how is it March 2021 already?), we wanted to share a few of the flowering plants with roots somewhere over the rainbow. After all, flowers have long been symbolic within the queer community. In his masterpiece Sodom and Gomorrah, French novelist Proust even likened relations between men to the fertilization of flowers

Anyhoo, without further ado, let’s get stuck into some of that flower power. Starting with the oldest, we have…

Violets

The romance between gays and flowers could stretch as far back as Sappho (c. 630 – c. 570). The ancient Greek poet – rumoured to have loved the ladies – lived on the isle of Lesbos, which is where we get the term lesbian. Interestingly, everyone from Lesbos is a Lesbian (with a big-L), and the appropriation of the word lesbian (with a little-l) is reportedly a super thorny issue on the island. 

In her lyric poetry, most of which is now lost or falling to pieces, Sappho often referenced flowers. Among these were violets and other purple blooms, which her gay female subjects may have worn in garlands as a coded message. The violet remains a queer symbol to this day, appearing on the rainbow flag and frequently popping up in fiction – think Mrs Violet Venable, portrayed by Katharine Hepburn in Tennessee Williams’ 1959 Southern Gothic mystery Suddenly Last Summer

Green Carnations 

The green carnation – which is dyed and doesn’t occur naturally – was one of the first LGBT+ symbols to emerge in Victorian England, and it was Oscar Wilde who brought wearing these flowers into queer vogue. In 1892, the playwright invited his friends along to the opening of Lady Windermere’s Fan, asking the oblivious bunch to pin a green carnation to their lapels. 

Wearing the flower soon became a down-low way for gay men to identify each other, but thanks to Robert Hitchens’ scandalous 1894 novel The Green Carnation, this is one story without a happy ending. The author depicted characters based on Wilde and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas, and although the book was presented as fiction, it wasn’t long before the wrong people cottoned on. This played a major part in Wilde’s 1895 arrest and the gross indecency trial that followed, and the whole ugly mess forced the green carnation underground for a long time. 

Pansies 

If you’re a gay guy, I’ll bet a bouquet of these beauties some idiot or other has called you a pansy in the past. This cruel floral jibe is one of many used in the early 20th Century, and it’s where the ‘Pansy Craze’ got its name. If you’ve never heard of it, the Pansy Craze was the prohibition-era phenomenon that really pushed LGBT+ nightlife out of the closet and into the mainstream. 

During the roaring 20s (the “golden queera,” if you will) and the early 30s, the LGBT+ community managed to establish a strong presence. Drag queens and other queer performers appeared on stages across the globe, especially in New York’s Greenwich Village, Harlem and Times Square. These ‘Pansy Performers’ entertained all sorts – including straight people in search of an illicit drink – but the party wilted when the end of prohibition dropped the curtain on speakeasy culture. 

Lavender

Lavender has been associated with queer people since around the same time as the pansy. It could refer to the colour or the flower – the former of which combines the stereotypically masculine blue and feminine pink. The term first indicated an effeminate style or homosexual tendencies, with gay men mocked for having a “dash” or “streak” of lavender in them. Swedish-American writer Carl Sandburg is partly to blame for this after using the latter to describe a suspiciously close friendship between Abe Lincoln and another man. 

Then came the ‘Lavender Scare,’ a Mccarthy-era effort to purge gay people from the US Government, and the ‘Lavender Menace,’ a term given to the involvement of lesbians in the National Organization for Women. But like the word queer, the community has since reclaimed lavender, and it is now widely seen as a positive reference to LGBT+ culture.

At Seb’s Urban Jungle, we dig these floral symbols. LGBT+ people haven’t always had full control over their use, but that’s changing. The queers are just as resilient as flowers. You trample their symbology…they’ll breathe life back into it. You throw shade at them…oh petal, you’ll soon see your cruelty blossom into something much brighter! Even though LGBT+ History Month just saw its finale yesterday, I say: go gay up your home with some of these plants and raise a watering can to the queer community – and maybe a cheeky Cosmo too. 

Words by Steven Allison