February 21, 2017

Magnus and India, the duo behind Haarkon are constantly on the hunt for their next green fix. From the jungle biome at The Eden Project in Cornwall to the glasshouse at the Sheffield Botanical Gardens only 15 minutes from their house, they are always looking to seek out nature in an urban landscape. With over 100 plants in their home, they truly are the connoisseurs of all things green.

We spoke with them about how Haarkon got started, their plans to visit Japan later this year and their advice for first time plant buyers.

UO: Can you tell us a little about your story so far and how you came to start Haarkon?

Haarkon started long before we think it did; I travel a lot as part of my job (a freelance photographer) and we always tried to explore wherever we found ourselves to really make the most of being so far away from home. We set up the website initially to sell homeware products that we’d had made but found that the aspect we enjoyed most was collecting imagery to sing the song of our brand. We decided to change focus, close the shop and do what we love; seek out new sights, travel to new places and share our experiences through our website and Instagram.

UO: Where did your interest in urban gardens come from?

This is a question that we get asked a lot and we’re never really too sure of how to articulate our answer. Perhaps it’s something to do with the juxtaposition of man and nature, a breath of fresh green air amidst a cityscape or just a reminder that the world is much more than concrete and steel but whatever it is, we’re addicted.

UO: You travel a lot, visiting amazing greenhouses around Europe. What has been the most jaw-dropping greenhouse you’ve visited?

The most impressive greenhouse we’ve visited so far has to be the jungle biome at the Eden Project in Cornwall; the sheer size and scale of the indoor garden there is incredible. You feel like you really are in the jungle (apart from the concrete paths and human sized cool box for those who need a break from the heat). On a cool day you can climb a staircase to get a bird’s eye view from a platform suspended above the jungle canopy. We’ve visited twice, two years apart, and it was amazing to see how it changes and develops over time.

Shop: Marble Candle, Kinfolk Book

UO: What is the most memorable trip you’ve been on and why?

This would have to be our time spent in Edinburgh, Scotland. We took the train up for a couple of nights to take in the sights and explore the city on foot. It was here we had our first experience of the glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Garden. We went not really expecting much, and after a half a day wandering around all 10 glasshouses we were blown away by its beauty. It has a fantastic array of climates and the architecture, especially how it has been added to and extended over the years, really captured our imagination. Edinburgh itself is a city that we love – it’s got a great feel to it and we jump at the chance to revisit.

UO: How many plants do you have in your own home? Which are your favourites?

At the last count we had over 100, although this fluctuates as we add to our collection and donate plants to friends when we feel like they’re taking over a little too much. Our favorite plant has to be our Umbrella plant, it’s one of the first plants we bought together and has grown from about a foot tall to a point where we’ve had to chop the top off so it can still fit in our living room. Other favourites all come with stories attached; a Pilea given to us as a tiny cutting, succulents that came home with us from Spain and a variegated Monstera that was a bit of an experiment between us and our friends Jin and Giacomo (they run Conservatory Archives, an incredible plant shop in London.)

UO: Where do you go to buy your own plants?

We have picked up plants from all over the country and from places of all sizes; from large garden centres to small sales in people’s backyards.

Shop: Teakwood Tobacco Jar Candle, Triangle Wire Shelf, Half Moon Planter

UO: If someone is new to urban gardening and would like to start their collection, which plants would you recommend to start with?

The best advice we could give is to Google which plants are best suited to the conditions in your home. For instance if you don’t have too much daylight it’s best to bring home a plant which likes low light. If a plant looks like it’s struggling a little, move it to a different spot to see if that helps. You’ll soon get a feel for where each plant likes to live in your space.

The best plants to start with (i.e. ones which we’ve found are difficult to kill);
• Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)
• Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
• Money Plant (Crassula ovata)
• Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
• Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola)

Tenley Wire Grid

UO: What are your favourite green spaces in your city, Sheffield?

It would have to be the glasshouse within the Sheffield Botanical Gardens, it’s only a 15 minute walk from our home and we usually visit at least once a week as it’s on our way to our friend’s coffee shop. Although it’s only small compared to some of the large green spaces we’ve visited we feel lucky to have something like this on our doorstep. The Winter Gardens in the city centre are also cool, it’s the largest urban glasshouse in Europe. The University of Sheffield has a beautiful library called Western Bank and there’s an impressive cacti collection in the atrium, and of course we love the many parks that make Sheffield a green city.

UO: Do you have any exciting plans or trips for 2017?

This year we are planning to leave the UK a few more times than usual, to experience a couple of days in some exciting places around Europe and of course seeking out some of the best greenhouses and botanical inspired places we can find along the way. We also hope to travel to Japan at the end of year, it’s something we’ve both dreamed of for a while now and just never got around to doing, so hopefully we’ll be able to do that. We’ve read a lot about Japanese culture and the notion of connecting with nature through all that you do and that really resonates with us. The world is our oyster!

Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 Gold Camera

See more from Haarkon over on their blog.