India Hobson and Magnus Edmondson are the Sheffield-based photographers behind greenhouse obsessed travel journal Haarkon. They traverse the globe to beautifully shoot the world's most renowned and lesser-known botanical collections and the buildings they're grown in. Needless to say, in a social media era obsessed with succulents and Swiss cheese plants, their stylish horticultural leanings have sprouted a huge following on Instagram.
In between their busy travel schedule and commissions for their photography day jobs, we asked them a few questions about their insatiable love for greenery behind glass, their own houseplants and their tips for starting an Instagram account.
The Royal Botanic Garden, Melbourne
How and why did you start your Instagram, blog and greenhouse travels?
Most of the briefs we are given require us to travel to specific locations and we always like to make the most of our journeys by finding something 'for us' whilst we're there. We actually started the website to sell lifestyle/homeware products that we designed but discovered we preferred the photography aspect much more than any other part and so focused on that. Our website is an online photo album of our travels, the things we see along the way and anything else that catches our eye – the Instagram account is really just an aside to that.
Botanic Garden Meise, near Brussels
As for greenhouses; we love the lines where the natural and engineered meet one another and greenhouses are perfect examples of that. The beauty of the organic with the consideration of design. Greenhouses are a great way to practise escapism and can be a great way to explore the world all within a single building. We know it's a bit of a niche hobby but the Haarkon Greenhouse Tour seems to be never-ending and we've never visited two that are alike.
Where does the name come from?
Haarkon is Magnus’ brother’s middle name but also just a word that we liked – we chose it because we liked the shape of the letters!
Castle Ashby Orangery, Northamptonshire
What is it that drew you both to plants and greenhouses?
That's a tricky one because we're not altogether sure or at least not in a way that's easy to articulate. We like to share the things we like so that could be architecture, interior design, gardens and just about anything else – a lot of these things have links to the natural world but sometimes that link is not always so obvious. I guess we're interested in how people respond to their environments and quite often that involves a kind of 're-naturing' or an attempt at re-connecting with organic matter, be it through houseplants or oak furniture from a specific tree.
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
What’s been your favourite greenhouse you’ve visited?
We always dodge that answer because we love the differences between them all and that's what makes them all so interesting! We have ones that we constantly return to (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the Barbican Conservatory, Oxford University Botanic Garden) but we love allotment greenhouses and lean-tos in equal measure. If we really had to give an answer though, Gardens by the Bay in Singapore certainly ticks many of our boxes and we are desperate to visit there again!
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
What's the furthest you've travelled purely to visit a greenhouse?
We never travel just for that one single thing but we did purposefully stop for the night in Singapore so we could squeeze in a trip to Gardens by the Bay on our way to Australia...
Is your home covered in house plants?
Sometimes it feels that way! We do have quite a few plants ourselves but not as many as we used to – some have been re-homed with family and friends when they've outgrown our one-bed flat or when we felt like it was a house for them rather than for us. It's all about that balance for us and we try to keep them to certain areas to manage that. That being said I'm sure that visitors would see it as a bit of a jungle when they first walk in.
Botanical Garden, Kyoto
If you could build your perfect greenhouse, what would it be like?
We’d certainly like to have multiple climates and I’m sure it would have a rogue streak to it... we like wild and overgrown instead of manicured, and that certainly suits our lifestyle! Probably built with low-cost or re-purposed materials and it would definitely have somewhere to sit down for a while.
Jardin des Serres d'Auteuil, Paris
Are you surprised at how popular your Instagram has become?
Yes and no. Instagram is a great platform to share images on and obviously that's what we do for a living so it's what we're most-suited to. We also put a lot of time into trying to respond to comments and try to really engage with the online community but yes, it's a bizarre concept – especially if we imagine everyone physically following us in real life!
Would you have any tips for anyone wanting to start an Instagram account around a hobby?
Share what you love and remember that you can't please everyone!
If you're feeling green with envy at Magnus and India's travels, treat yourself to the next best thing – our foliage focused stationery designs.