Walking along the main road of Tongindong, you’ll quickly spot Gavi café when you see the couple dozen potted plants underneath its brown awning. Inside, you’ll find NOGARDEN, a gardening shop owned by Noh Eun-ah, who once worked as the feature editor for Vogue, Marie Claire and InSytle, and as editor-in-chief of Maison.
For Noh, the “chemistry” between the gardener and the plant is what matters when it comes to indoor gardening. “Think of the plant as a companion; you need to pick a good candidate for your relationship,” Noh tells every customer. Accordingly, every plant in the shop awaiting its ideal companion is one that the owner has tried growing herself and has loved being in a relationship with. Based on her experience and expertise, Noh said that “understanding” is the key to a successful partnership first and foremost, as each plant has its own “rhythm” that it has relied on to survive and “when the owner fails to respect that, it dies off.”
When you visit NOGARDEN, you’ll be asked lots of questions about your environment and lifestyle before you take a plant home. “Will the plant be provided with enough sunlight in your home?” or “Do you often work until late at night?” are only the conversation starters. Chances are, you’ll leave the shop empty-handed. But that would be a much better option than “letting a plant die off, feeling bad and then starting to think ‘it’s not for me.’” Or, you might be ready, and matched with a plant, which according to Noh means that you have the emotional space to “always hope that the plant will be healthy in your home.”
Visiting NOGARDEN provides a chance for self-reflection. “Am I emotionally available?” “Do I understand myself enough to understand a companion?” Without realizing, I found myself asking myself these questions. Noh, as if she had heard me, said: “When you believe in it, it will respond.”