This is a legacy site. Please click here to view current site. X

The Beauty Of Begonias And Ikebana With Cynthia Fan

We caught up with Cynthia Fan, talented florist and plantsperson, from her new home in Edinburgh

Alix-Rose Cowie / Lufuno Ramadwa

Cynthia Fan, Ikebana, Begonia

Florist, Ikebana-pro and plant researcher Cynthia Fan is generally, from what you may have gathered by now if you follow her Instagram, very, very at home with plants. But more than that, she is able to arrange them, and spread knowledge about them, in creative and unique ways that we can’t get enough of. Her green fingers and eye-for-design have seen her collaborate with lush brands like Pichulik, and photographers the world-over clamour to create unusual plant-based creations with her, making her Instagram feed one of our absolute favourites.  

Cynthia Fan, Begonias, Ikebana
Cynthia Fan, Begonias, Ikebana

We recently caught up with Cynthia, who chatted to us from her home-away-from-home in Edinburgh, where she is currently doing her PhD at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) on the genetics of leaf shape variation in Begonias


5 Minutes With Cynthia Fan

First: why Begonias?  

Cynthia Fan, Begonias, Ikebana

I’ve always loved Begonias so when I came across a research group that focused entirely on them, it was very exciting. Currently, around 2000 species (not horticultural varieties) have been described in the wild and this number is pretty much increasing on a monthly basis. In the majority of angiosperms, species are often differentiated on the basis of floral morphology. In Begonia, we find that floral morphology is (fairly) conserved while leaf morphology varies drastically. RBGE has an incredible living collection of Begonias so over my four years in Edinburgh, I’ll be looking at the genetic factors that may be responsible for the variation we see in leaf shape.  


When and how did you get into Ikebana?

Cynthia Fan, Begonias, Ikebana
Begonias, Cynthia Fan, Ikebana

When I started working with flowers, I often found myself being drawn to images online of arrangements that were very simple, using only a few elements. Google led me to the Ohara Chapter in Cape Town and I started going for classes with Belinda Soboil. The practice is something I really appreciate, especially as a creative break from my studies. I like to collect bowls, vases, branches, twigs etc. on a regular basis so these often serve as a starting inspiration for an arrangement. 


The best advice you could give a beginner getting into Ikebana? 

If an arrangement doesn’t feel right, go back to how the plant grows and this should influence the lines in your arrangement.


Three Ikebana folk to follow on the 'gram?

@michitakehirose, @kaki.kogei.migiwa, @_kentasaitou_


秋の鰻掴み(アキノウナギツカミ) 露草(ツユクサ)

A post shared by Kenta Saitou / 齊藤謙大 (@_kentasaitou_) on

Keep up with Cynthia and her beautiful Ikebana, Begonia-filled world on her own Instagram page @_cynthiafan