UO HOME: @STILL_______April 6, 2017
Amsterdam based photographer and connoisseur of all things green, Janneke Luursema has an impressive collection of 109 cacti and succulents. Talking to us about her love for the colour, shapes and textures found in the natural world, we ask her about her favourite green spaces in Amsterdam and her top tips on keeping your little green pals happy and thriving.
UO: Where did your interest in photographing the botanical world come from?
In my eyes nature does it best, so it’s an obvious subject matter for photography.
One of the reasons I started collecting houseplants some years ago was because I wanted to use the leaves in Ikebana-style arrangements. Like flower arrangements without the flowers. Colour, texture and shape of leaves alone has so much to offer. But then I found it kind of sad to cut off leaves, poor plants, so the plan got on a sidetrack. At the moment I’m playing with the idea again. I don’t think it’s that harmful to take a leaf off now and then.
Shop: Adelphi Metal Planter and Mod Metal Medium Plant Pot
UO: Can you describe the ethos and aesthetic of your style and Instagram account for us?
My work is about exploring the botanical world, the concept of home and the intimacy of still life, making quiet observations and finding beauty.
UO: Where is your favourite garden space in Amsterdam to photograph?
Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam is very nice. They have a desert garden with a peach-pink coloured wall, making the cacti really shine, especially the blueish colored agave. Can’t go wrong with that, picture-wise. Also, their tropical greenhouse section is gorgeous, and the list goes on.
UO: How many plants do you have in your own home?
Lately, I gave some away and unfortunately there were a few that did not survive winter. So right now, I counted 109.
UO: Which are your favourites?
The older ones, that have developed character, are my favourites. In my case, that’s the monstera deliciosa, the variegated ficus elastica and a crassula ovata. Straight form the nursery they look perfect, but I’m not interested in perfection. I like authenticity, including the scars of life. At the moment I have a crush on ferns, too. And I’ve always been fond of cacti. Oh, I love them all.
UO: What are your go to plant care tips to keep them happy and thriving?
First of all, I’m not an expert. I try to do my best and observe my plants closely, to see what they like and do not like. But basically: more light = more water. And all plants need light, but most do not prefer direct sun. Some plants need more specific care than others, so google how to care for the one you have your eyes on. One of my favourites is the sansevieria, looks good, does not need a lot of space as it grows upwards and not sidewards, and is also happy in a spot with not that much light. Water it when the soil is dry, easy. The zamioculcas is not very demanding too. When a plant seems happy, leave it there. Most do like to adjust to a new spot every month. If the beautiful pot you want to use does not have a watering hole, you can leave the plant in the plastic nursery pot inside the nice pot, so excess water can find it’s way out.
Shop: Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 Gold Camera and Fujifilm Instax Mini Film
UO: Why do you love having plants in your home?
They are ever-changing your home; they are alive. Bringing outside in, because living in the city (which I really love), I often crave nature and the outdoors. They make the house interesting to the eye, cosy and fresh.
UO: Where is your personal favourite place to purchase your plants for your house?
Exchanging cutting with fellow plantlovers is my favorite way to get more plants. Also, there’s a little plant store here round the corner where I often take a look. It’s hard to leave without something. This store has a cart with plants that do less well for sale, and I like to rescue some now and then.
Shop: Cabin Porn Book and Wonder Plants Urban Jungle Interior Book
UO: How do you best style your plants at home?
I like to make combinations with the colour, texture and shape of the plants and (vintage) pots which I find at thriftstores. Of course, I have to make sure the plants are in the right place, light-wise. Sometimes I group the gang for a little photoshoot, then everyone goes back to their optimal spot.
UO: What botanical gardens are still on your wish list?
That would be all around the world, basically, because I haven’t had the chance to see many yet. But Botanischer Garten Berlin seems a reasonable goal.
UO: Are there any other plant photographers you follow, if so who?
So so many. But to name a few:
@haarkon_ greenhouse tour & stunning photography on their blog
@houseplantjournal a lot of care tips, also an informative blog
@urbanjungleblog community, inspiring plant filled homes from around the globe
@noughticulture rookie urban gardening, book ‘How to Grow Stuff’
@botaworks plants thriving in urban environment
@brrch_ floral because I like flowers too