See the plant-filled apartments of three millennials in NYC

These New York locals are plant-crazy and have the overflowing, greenery-packed urban jungles to prove it
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Ilse Paanakker
Photograph: Celeste Sloman

Most New Yorkers are used to encountering abundant greenery in NYC parkscommunity gardens and farmer’s markets, but it's less common to find it packed into someone's studio apartment. From a collection of orchids on a West Village penthouse rooftop to an Upper West Side one-bedroom-turned-greenhouse and flower-filled studio, check out these sensational secret gardens below.

 

 

Photograph: Celeste Sloman

Ilse Paanakker:
25, founder of Habit House

“I think a big part of my personal health and wellness is tied to having these plants,” says Paanakker, who packs her tiny West Village studio with 30 plants. “New York is so busy and hectic, and it’s nice to come home to an environment that’s meditative. My mother and father are both very active outdoor gardeners, so I always lived in a culture that was open and understood the positive energy that plants bring. I started simple, with plants such as succulents that don’t require a lot of care, then moved on to bigger plants, like monsteras. Plants probably know what’s going on more than you think. They’re alive. I think they can sense my joy and appreciation for them.”

Ilse Paanakker
Photograph: Celeste Sloman

Ilse Paanakker
Photograph: Celeste Sloman

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Photograph: Celeste Sloman

Brett Allen:
27, CFO and real estate agent

“When I was young, I loved the book Where the Wild Things Are, especially the part where Max’s bedroom is overtaken by plants and transforms into a jungle,” reflects Allen, who now cares for more than 200 plants on the roof deck of his West Village three-bedroom. “After I read it, I made my mom buy me plants for my bedroom and eventually ended up going to Cornell for plant science. As soon as I moved into this apartment, the plants started to accumulate. Orchids are my favorite to collect. It’s a constant battle in terms of what to focus on. I’ll have friends come over on Saturdays to help me with a lot of work. I’m also a full-time CFO and real estate agent, but I make time for this because I love doing it so much. A lot of these plants I’ve grown from seeds and have been growing for years.”

Ben Allen
Photograph: Celeste Sloman

Ben Allen
Photograph: Celeste Sloman

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Photograph: Celeste Sloman

Alessia Resta:
26, artist

“I work from home, and a little over a year ago I started collecting plants,” says Resta, sitting among the 150 or so plants that fill her Upper West Side one-bedroom. “I felt like I really needed something to brighten up the place and kind of keep me company while I was working. I’m so attached to my computer all day, and this kind of felt like I was taking a park and bringing it indoors. I went to the School of Visual Arts, and I’d use plants as a reference for my sculptures. Once I moved into this apartment with these wide, west-facing windows, I couldn’t wait to put plants there. Right now, I’m very much into philodendrons, and my favorite is the variegated philodendron ‘Burle Marx.’ It’s pretty  rare and grows so fast—everything about it is just really  gratifying.”

Alessia Resta
Photograph: Celeste Sloman

Alessia Resta
Photograph: Celeste Sloman

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