Victoria’s New Biophilia Shop is a Plant Lover’s Dream
Owners Bianca Bodley and Lindsay Mitchell put an emphasis on locally made goods and outdoor accessories.
On an emerging stretch of Fort Street in downtown Victoria, there’s an unexpected glimpse of green. A grouping of sansevieria plants in oversized white and charcoal grey pots fill a shop window while air plants nesting in ceramic hammocks dangle from a piece of driftwood above (the handiwork of local ceramicists Malene Foyd and Gwen Howey).
It’s an artful introduction to Biophilia Shop, a just-opened retail store from the eponymous landscape-design firm. After five years of designing green spaces and living walls for commercial and residential clients, the firm’s principals Bianca Bodley and Lindsay Mitchell saw a need in the marketplace for well-designed outdoor furnishings, vessels and accessories. Their experience also brought them in touch with the region’s many artists and makers whose work complemented their own. “We wanted to create a place where we can bring in unique pieces and for local design to come together and be seen,” says Mitchell.
To accomplish their goals, the pair designed the space with the finest attention to detail. At the entrance, a living wall allows staff to demonstrate its construction and care; in the rear, a U-shaped counter is outfitted with tools and bulk soil so patrons can do their potting on site. Serving the increasing numbers of condo-dwellers living in the vicinity was part of the shop’s mission from the start: “More and more people are living in small spaces and they want a piece of life inside,” says Mitchell, “but maybe not a bag of soil kicking around.”
For 27 years, the space was home to an antiques shop. The large wall hooks, previously used for displaying dining chairs, now anchor row upon row of hanging planters, including powder-coated aluminum hover dish planters (from $120) by Vancouver-based Pot Inc.; the mezzanine level serves as office space for the collective.
Whitewashed wood shelves braced with copper piping run the length of one wall, the handiwork of Mitchell—a welder by training—who creates the firm’s line of furnishings and accessories. (They might want to consider adding the shelving to their inventory.) The black terracotta pots are available in five sizes and range in price from $42 to $109.
A slim banquette creates a vignette for locally and regionally made fire bowl products (among them: a minimalist steel bowl exclusive to Biophilia, and a cast-concrete design by Yves St. Hilaire of Squamish-based Sticks and Stones). The efficient seating will also be used for monthly events and workshops.
The shop’s go-to plants are tillandsia, staghorn ferns, philodendron monstera, and glossy fiddle leaf fig trees. Succulents are especially abundant. “I love their resilience,” says Mitchell. “When they flower, it’s so unexpected and so special.”
Classic wrought-iron hand tools ($18) and folded-tin scoops ($16) and expandable willow trellises (from $32) are representative of the store’s vision to bring well-made, well-priced goods to gardeners of all stripes. “Things shouldn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful,” says Mitchell.