Carving a Niche in the South End

The little gift shops along Tremont Street have always charmed me, with their friendly owners, local focus, and unique selections. This is Niche – a captivating space that is the perfect antidote for these last stubborn days of winter. I’d been passing this for a while, always putting off stepping inside for one reason or another, but having been beat down by a chilly wind recently, I ducked into the shop and felt not only instantly warmer, but calmer as well.

Tiny plantings of baby’s tears and slow-growing succulents peeked out of fanciful ceramic planters. Riotously-colored bracts of bromeliads sprayed outward in radial formation, star-bursts of red and yellow surrounding the spot where the real, unassuming flower would appear. The beautifully-gnarled forms of tillandsia sat perched above beds of stones and water – the powerful collusion of elements allowing for life and loveliness.

In a city like Boston, where space is of the essence and apartments and condos can be on the small side, this is a clever way of managing to have a garden in the tiniest of rooms. Hanging in one of the whimsical ceramic tear-drops, or set upon a windowsill in a simple planter, there is likely room for some of these beauties in everyone’s place.

This would have been one of my favorite stores as a kid. The plants, the design, the child-like scale of it all – I would have been enthralled by every item. As it was, I remained fascinated, poring over the combinations of plants, examining the curves of the vases, studying the lime green hues of the mosses. A playground for plant-lovers and design-aficionados alike.

Gorgeousness filled every corner and crevice here, from the open-palmed variations of the prayer plant (which gets its name from the habit of folding up its leaves at night, as if in prayer) to the spiny architectural spikes of a variegated haworthia, waiting to send up a towering flower spike when conditions are right.

Hope is too often such a small thing, so easily looked over or forgotten. These little treasures remind me of that. They remind me to look. To pause. To remember. In the smallest of stuff, there may be found an infinite universe.

Niche is located at 619 Tremont Street in the South End of Boston. 

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