Plants, a Sign of Wealth?

Have you ever wondered why money is the same color as grass? Was it a subconscious decision of our forefathers or perhaps deliberate because the lawn industry contributes 75 billion a year in U.S. revenue?

According to a 2014 study by the World’s Landscaping Services Market Research, no other country comes close to that staggering amount with Australia coming in second at 3 billion. We, Americans, take for granted that our highways are lined with strips of grass, our public spaces designed with landscapes, and neighborhoods are filled with lush green lawns. In other countries, having a yard with plants and flowers is almost unheard of for the average person. Yet, we spend hundreds of dollars to keep our grass green and weed free. In fact, having a lawn began with medieval castles clearing large areas of vegetation in order to maintain unobstructed views for invading armies. It wasn’t until the 16th century when cultivating lawns for aesthetic purposes became part of the French and English nobility. The larger and more ornate the lawn, the more wealth you possessed and set you apart from the common folk.


plants in hotelsWhenever I walk into a building, I personally experience the feeling of wealth that plants provide. Hotels are a perfect example. Typically when I travel, I end up staying at the least scary looking motel off the highway exit. The bed sheets look clean and there are only a few weird stains on the carpet. For the most part, it’s a utilitarian experience of having a soft bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. There have been a few times though when I was fortunate enough to stay in a high-end resort. When you check into a four or five star hotel, such as the Gaylord Palms Resort, you instantly feel transported into a lush world of luxury and tranquility. While I’m there, my common life disappears and, for that short period, I’m someone who hangs out at the country club, drinks champagne, and nibbles caviar. The inclusion of plants in or around a hotel not only affects the occupants’ psyche, it can also increase the property value by up to 20%. Furthermore, hotel rooms with those lush garden views are typically the first to be booked and often times rake in a higher nightly rate than those that lack that same view.

The difference between a lobby with a neglected pothos hanging from the check-in desk to one surrounded by tropical foliage, flowing water, and flower beds has a tremendous impact upon the hotel’s atmosphere, perceived value, as well as our own psyche.

Gardens of Babylon

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

-Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Probably one of the best examples of plants symbolizing wealth would be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the hanging gardens of Babylon. Legend goes King Nebuchadnezzar II created a palace with ascending garden terraces the size of a mountain for his homesick queen. While much is still unknown and there is question as to whether it actually existed, the Hanging Gardens still remain a timeless fascination. The beauty and splendor of this incredible landscape in the middle of a desert drew people to trek thousands of miles just to admire it. Today, fact or fiction, it still endures as one of the most opulent gifts a king has created for his queen.

While our paper currency may have started out green since the pigment back then was cheaper and lasted longer, I still think there is a subconscious reason that our paper currency remains the color of plants.


Introduction to Biophilic Design & The WELL Building Standard
Property Value

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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