Emma Sadie Thomson is a plant stylist who has firmly imprinted her very talented green thumb around Adelaide, she has created some of the very enviable installations you would have seen around the city.
Her beautiful Instagram account highlights her talents and way with plants and provides you with all the green inspiration you could possibly need – and will make you want to do a bathroom renovation when you lay your eyes on her oh-so-dreamy bath, just saying. bath, just saying. Emma has recently become a new mum, to gorgeous little Frances, and we sat down to discuss all things plants and babies, and the synergy between the two.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learnt since becoming a mother, did expectations meet reality?
Be kind to yourself and don’t expect to get too much done during the first few weeks. Enjoy the days where you might not get out of your pj’s! I think I underestimated just how little I could get done with a newborn; you are on their time now. But, it is also such a precious time during those first few weeks, so enjoy it as it will be gone in the blink of an eye, I can’t believe she is 10 weeks old already.
You have had a very interesting career, beginning in interior and fashion and then pivoting into plants. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and how you arrived at EST?
I studied Landscape Architecture at University and then spent some time travelling. Upon returning I wasn’t ready to go back to landscape architecture, and I got a job in the fashion industry, working in set design, VM and then interior design. EST started when I began making and selling terrariums at various markets, then I got asked to help with the redesign of a beer garden featuring a large green wall, which was my first major project. This just lead to other projects and EST naturally evolved. I always wanted to combine interior design and my love for plants and found this was a great way to do it!
Where did your passion for ora and fauna stem from?
Growing up in rural Mallee Victoria, as a child I was always surrounded by nature and the importance of having a connection to it.
Do you feel it’s important to immerse children in nature from a young age?
It is so important. I remember always playing outside as a child, out in the dirt making mud pies. I think babies and kids have a natural desire to be outside in nature and getting dirty. Playing in the dirt can also help with training and strengthening their immune systems. Studies have shown that it can help with the proper formation of healthy gut bacteria and by restoring this beneficial bacteria it can help with reduced rates of allergies and boost immune systems. Being outdoors can also help with developing their cognitive skills. If we are having trouble settling Frances we take her out for a walk and she loves to stare up at the sky and the trees.
Have you notices a synergy between caring for plants and babies?
Both need nurturing and both will give you signs to let you know they aren’t happy. You bring this baby into the world and it is 100% reliant on you looking after it. I think its similar to you bringing a plant into your home, you are now its carer.
Who have been the biggest female influences in your life?
I have always been surrounded by such amazing women. My mum, grandma and two sisters. Also, nearly all of my close friends have built their own paths and careers working for themselves, which has been inspiring and they have all been a great support to me.
What does a typical day juggling motherhood / work look like for you?
It really does vary each day! I feel so lucky to be able to work from home and my partner Jasper also works from home, so he is never too far away. It has been a very busy few weeks though as we have just finished vintage up here, but now all of the grapes are picked we are looking forward to having some quieter family time. She usually wakes up around 5 or 6am, feed then back to sleep for a few more hours. This is the time we try and get some work done, washing, cleaning and cooking (so much washing). The afternoons are then usually spent going for a walk and more play time for her as she is much more awake in the afternoons.
What advice would you give to a new mum?
Support is so important, especially in the first few weeks. We came home from the hospital on the same day, but went to my parents house where we all spent the first week. It was such a big help having my mum to help with settling her after feeding,
so I could get some much needed sleep. It’s a whirlwind and you don’t know what you’re doing, so it was so important to have some help! It really does take a village to raise a child.
Best indoor plants to have with a newborn / child in the house?
I guess nothing too spiky! I keep looking around the house and now see things as hazards that will need to be removed when she starts crawling, such as pot stands! Everything will have to be on the ground in a few months!
What inspires your creative process?
We get to work with some really great interior designers and architects on projects which is always inspiring to come up with
plant installations to suit these spaces. Adding elements of different heights and clusters of planting are important in our plant styling. Light is also a big factor that dictates what kind of plants we can use in the space as well.
From your experience, how can you bring an element of plant life into a small place?
If you are nervous about bringing some greenery into your space, just start off with one or two plants. Make sure you find a plant suitable to the space where you want to put it, in particular make sure the space has the appropriate light levels to suit.
Advice from Emma’s mum and grandma:
EMMA’S GRANDMA // What has your experience been like watching Emma becoming a mother?
Watching the way Emma carried her baby and carried on with life as she has done up to now with courage and style, as her bump grew ever bigger, has made me proud to be her grandmother, and now G-G, of this beautiful child who has brought so much joy to family and friends. As my dearly beloved husband passed away three days after the birth of Frances, she has been a great joy to me, and I thank Emma, and Yvonne for ensuring I see as much of her as possible.
EMMA’S MUM // What advice have you imparted on Emma as a first time mother?
It’s not called labour for nothing, just let it happen and don’t get too worried about how your baby enters the world; you will forget all about the pain and disappointments if things don’t go according to plan when you have your precious baby safely in your arms. Just trust your body and your instincts.
Breastfeeding tips, simple advice about correct positioning when breastfeeding and protecting those important nipples were important pieces of advice which I think stood Emma in good stead.
Getting enough sleep is the most important thing you can do in those early days, it helps to have people around you to help out when you have an unsettled baby that just needs another pair of arms to rock and soothe them off to sleep. The early weeks pass in a ash so enjoy every day and relax, and before you know it they will be smiling at you in 6 weeks time; a wonderful precious reward.
Top 5 tips to give your kids green thumbs?
• Get them out in the veggie garden, kids love to grow things and especially if they can see it grow into something they can eat
• One of my favourite things as a child was making egg heads with cress or alfalfa sprout hair
• Give them a plant for their room that they can look after
• Get creative and paint some pots for them to plant in
• Start a gardening journal, where they could record weather conditions, measure the growth, watering times etc.