Haarkon: Meet Instagram’s Plant Influencers

Thu, 28 September 2017

As evermore millennials go green fingered (apparently we’re using plants as a substitute for the children we can’t afford) our Instagram feeds have become saturated with careful compositions of succulents, cacti, calatheas, ferns and fronds. Living among an abundance of lush foliage is the interior trend de rigueur – but it’s not just home gardening that’s attracting likes, with an increasing number of travellers seeking out picturesque greenery on the road.

For plant-related travel inspiration, you can’t do much better than Haarkon, the website and Instagram feed from Sheffield couple India Hobson and Magnus Edmondson which – with 171k followers (and counting) – has seen them become the UK’s top “plant influencers”. And with posts that go far beyond a bedside pot or desktop cacti, showcasing a curated collection of lush greenhouses and exotic specimens around the world, it’s not hard to see why.

The couple have been on an international greenhouse tour over the past few years, documenting and sharing every step of their journey. Find them in the depths of a Costa Rican rainforest, beside towering cacti in Cali or taking close ups of monstera leaves in Australia. When they’re not in transit, they capture their own plant collection in their light-filled home.

We asked the homegrown horticultural pair about secret gardens, how to take the perfect Insta shot and their top tips for keeping plants alive at home.

How did the idea for Haarkon first come about?

Haarkon is essentially a journal of the places that we go to and the things we see or like. For a long time we printed the pictures from our travels, which then transformed into a blog format, as we put stories online as a way of storing them for the future. We never imagined that so many people would be interested in what we’re up to, and we are very grateful for the opportunities that sharing our photos have brought us.

What does the name stand for?

Haarkon happens to be Magnus’ brothers middle name (although we played with the spelling a little). We chose it because we like the word – it doesn’t really get much deeper than that.

What was the first plant you bought?

Our first plant was a schefflera (umbrella plant) that we bought as a 30cm baby – it’s now making it’s way along our ceiling.

What excites you about plants?

We like to find greenery in urban spaces although we never really know why, it just seems to be that we’re drawn to the more natural elements. We also like architecture and design and we find it interesting when they meet. Greenhouses are the perfect place to satisfy our love for engineering and horticulture at the same time.

Can you tell us a bit about the Haarkon house?

It’s just our home! We have a lot of books, a few plants and like neutral tones. We treat it as a flexible space because it has to do so many things; we eat, work and relax there so it has to work around us. We have huge windows that give us plenty of light and we move our furniture around throughout the year to make the most of it.

Do you curate your plants for the pictures?

We have both always loved design, it influences everything we do. We like to think this comes across in the images and stories we share. Around our home we put plants based on where they like to live, trying to recreate their natural environment. Sometimes, usually in the middle of cleaning, we to put all of our plants together and take a picture.

We keep accidentally killing our houseplants. Can you give us some tips?

We’re no experts but have learnt a few things along the way. Know your home before you introduce a plant; know where the light is, how warm it is and the humidity level as these are all key in caring for happy healthy plants. Research before you bring it home and make sure you’ve got what it needs. Trial and error will come into play – sometimes you might have to move a plant around your home to find out where it likes it best. Don’t give up – be observant and pay attention to them; if they’re drooping they may want watering but be careful not to over-water them. Everyone’s homes are different and so what works for someone else might not work for you. Don’t forget that plants are living things, not just props!

How can we take the perfect Instagram plant picture?

Photograph what you love without worrying about what others may think and without trying to please anyone but yourself. You will attract others who share similar interests as your passion will shine through.

Why do you focus on greenery (and no flowers)?

We aren’t really “bright colour” people and so lean towards the more neutral tones, while there is so much variety in foliage. We like tropical plants that tend to be celebrated for other qualities like the distinctive leaves of the monstera or the fan of a palm.

Where is your favourite garden or green house?

We recently visited Singapore and the cloud forest there really is spectacular. The scale of it is incredible and it’s such a dramatic environment – Singapore is hot and humid and the gardens by the bay are full of cool air. We were blown away by our visit and would jump at the chance to return. Also, there’s a huge desert garden at Huntington Gardens in Pasadena that we really enjoyed; giant pincushion cacti and euphorbia taller than both of us put together. That being said, we like that each place we visit has it’s own personality and that what makes it interesting are the variety of places that we see in whatever part of the world we happen to be in.

Tell us about a secret garden oasis within a city.

The Conservatory at the Barbican Centre London is probably the most central green oasis you can get, it’s a real gem and even better if you like brutalist architecture.

Which are your favourite travel destinations?

Singapore captured our hearts and we can’t wait to explore more of Asia. We also really enjoy making our way around the UK; it’s so compact that it’s possible to see many different landscapes and towns in a short space of time. We love that Europe has so many different characters too; you can fly for an hour and be somewhere with a different culture, cuisine and landscape. That’s pretty cool.

Do you use social media for travel recommendations?

It’s always good to ask for tips on places that other people have been before, but in the end we think it’s important to find our own way. We see if we can plan a route, but also just wander. Most of the recommendations that people give us are food based and we tend to spend our money on experiences rather than food – we’d choose a takeaway pizza sat by the harbour over a swanky restaurant most days, no matter how good it might look on Instagram!

What’s next for Haarkon?

More travel! We’re heading to Japan at the end of October. It’s our first visit and a trip we’ve wanted to do for a long time. Who knows what next year will bring, we’ve always got our bag half-packed ready for the next opportunity.

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