Meet Matthew Henstock. Cat-lover, keen home cook, and hero gardener who helps keep our Towers so gorgeously green.
The plant life in and around International Towers is so expertly maintained and so complementary to our fitouts, the flora is almost part of the furniture - it’s easy to walk on by without giving the who, the what and the why second thought.
So, we asked our green fingered mastermind, Matthew Henstock, if he would mind stepping out from behind the scenes to tell us a bit about himself and the leaves he looks after. And to our delight, he said yes.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Sydney’s inner west with my cat Meatball. In addition to gardening, I enjoy cooking, cycling and making my mediocre home brew.
Where did you develop your green fingers?
Growing up I always lived in houses with gardens, so I have always had an interest in nurturing plants. When a job opportunity came up with an indoor plant hire company in 2001, I jumped at the chance. Since then, I’ve worked for several plant scaping companies across Sydney, and I’ve been with Posh Services [International Towers partner] for the last 11 years.
How did International Towers find you?
Posh Services were initially brought in to consult on the Carpe Diem project in Tower Two. Our first brief was to trial a percentage of native plant species in an indoor environment and try to raise that percentage with the use of strategic lighting.
And from there the relationship blossomed.
Please tell us about the plants we have onsite today.
Most of the plants we’re using here are native to Australia. The International Towers strategy incorporates biophilic design [a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment] into office our fitouts. So, upstairs you’ll see plants trailing down from suspended planters, growing up walls and across ceilings.
We even had a green tree frog living in one of the offices for a while.
How do you choose what to install and where?
In the new fitouts we’ve consulted the designer and lighting company to iron out any issues and address lessons we learned during the Carpe Diem project, so now we’re aiming for 100% natives in these suites. Light levels generally dictate which plants will go where, and we also need to be careful not to block out the fantastic city and harbour views.
It’s initially trial and error experimenting which natives will actually be happy growing indoors. We have a great support team at the Posh nursery, they give us plenty of advice and source interesting plants to trial.
Australian natives tend to be a bit temperamental and drink a lot less than most indoor plants.
What’s your funniest moment working at the Towers?
The funniest moment happens most days - one of our tenant partners has a life-sized cardboard cutout of David Koch in their office, which never ceases to scare and amuse me when I come in to service their plants at 4am.
And your proudest moment?
Just seeing tenant partners enjoying the green spaces in the offices and communal areas. It’s always satisfying to see someone setting up their zoom meeting right in front of a giant fern or a green wall.
What’s your favourite species of plant at the Towers, and why?
My favourite plants change from time to time, but at the moment probably the Kauri Pine. When they’re established indoors they can grow quite large and they form a kind of canopy. There’s a nice big one in the foyer of Tower Three. Another new favourite would be the Lemon Myrtle for its many uses in cooking.
Anything new in the pipeline for the Towers plantations?
Yes there are some exciting things on the horizon. We’re looking at bringing a couple of native bee hives to the level 3 terrace gardens. We’re also aiming to get even more local by ensuring our plant selection consists only of species that are native to the Sydney area.
Before we say goodbye, please give us a juicy plant-based fact.
The majority of plants here at International Towers are set up using a ‘wicking’ system, which means plants drink from a reservoir as they need it.
And with that, Matthew sets off back towards the leaves to continue his wonderful work.