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A one-stop shop for all things green


Words by Suzanna Knight

Photos by On A Hazy Morning

“We have a lot of addicts,” Mila van de Wall, co-owner of city garden shop Wildernis in Amsterdam, mentions laughing. Plant addicts, that is. Since opening up shop in 2015, Wildernis has become the go-to location for plant-loving locals and tourists alike. Founded by Mila and good friend Emma Hagedoorn, the store was created as a way to bridge the gap between city folk and overwhelming, impersonal garden centres on the edge of town. “We wanted to make something that we felt was missing: a place where you can buy really nice houseplants and the gardening tools you need, and follow workshops to learn everything you need to know,” says Mila.

Urban green learning centre

Situated in the middle of town on the Bilderdijkstraat, Wildernis embodies the term ‘urban oasis’ in every sense of the word. Brimming with an alluring selection of plants, books and other botanical treats, as well as good coffee and a great selection of pastries, the shop serves as a real retreat from the busy, rushed goings-on of city life.“People can come and have a coffee and a slice of chocolate cake, and we often hear people say, “I feel kind of relaxed now!” That’s a really nice thing to hear. We love that energy.”

Besides encouraging their fellow city dwellers to add more green to their homes, Mila and Emma take things one step further by offering workshops on a wide range of subjects, all aimed towards improving green thumbs and offering inspiring new ways to create a lasting green interior. “We tackle questions like: Which kinds of plants are there? Which plants can be in the shade versus in the sun? Which plants can go on your balcony? Which ones do you actually need to plant on the ground? What can you grow on your roof terrace?” Mila mentions.

Other workshops focus on topics you might have never even considered. For example, did you know you can dye fabrics with just flowers? Botanical artist Elin Wanderlust gave a workshop on creating patterns with flowers using traditional techniques. And are you lucky enough to have a garden, but with the unlucky fortune of having it completely in the shade? A workshop about shadow plants will teach you everything you need to know about soil, proper plant choices and how to create a solid plan to turn your urban backyard into a luscious green space.

A plant for everyone

Wildernis’ mission to put a plant in every urban home seems to be taking off. The people that find their way into the shop are as diverse as newbie vegetable garden enthusiasts, older plant lovers looking for a quiet cup of coffee surrounded by greenery, or a young tourist who spotted Wildernis’ photogenic interior on Instagram. Even younger men stop by for a plant- something that might not have been considered very manly just a few years ago. “A lot of men come in just by themselves, without their girlfriends and say, “I want a plant. What do you recommend?” It’s a real change in image. It’s something that we really enjoy because it means it’s not ‘girly’ – it’s more accepted for everyone now. To have plants in your house is really important.”