decor, Floristry, inspiration

Making floral magic with Jonette Engelbrecht

Jessica Hunkin

‘For generations, the women in my family have shared three things,’ says floral designer Jonette Engelbrecht. ‘Strong and independent personalities, the recipe for a cake that can keep the peace, and the belief that your home is always decorated when there are flowers on display – even more so when they are from your garden.’

Noticing a demand for an online fine florist in Johannesburg, Jonette quit her job at non-profit organisation Make A Difference to launch her own company, Botanicus, this year. 'Regularly having friends and colleagues asking me where I find my flowers, I left to pursue a creative dream and deliver modern, out-of-the ordinary flowers to your door,' she explains. What began as a business delivering bespoke, hand-tied bundles has already grown to include floral subscriptions and creative collaborations for installations, activations as well as wedding and product styling.

With a keen design eye, the floral designer describes her style as an ‘imaginative mix of modernity and romance’. Her exciting career trajectory and natural knack for floral arranging make Jonette one of our Next Generation stars for 2017, which you can read more about in the August issue of House and Leisure. To inspire you to arrange your own flowers at home, Jonette came up with three themed arrangements – each distinct yet equally beautiful. We paid her a visit while she worked to experience the magic first hand.

1. modern master

Speaking of this moody, painterly arrangement inspired by the Dutch masters, Jonette says, 'This arrangement comprises flowers that have rich textures and dramatic, deep colours. It's a statement pieces that needs nothing but a bare wall to stand against - much like an artwork.' An elegant mixture of poppies, tulips, dendrobium orchids, banksias, dahlias, delphinium hybrids, alliums and a few forged branches with leaves come together in this beautiful bunch.

2. the forager

According to Jonette, this modern arrangement of foraged leaves, mushrooms and veld flowers 'shows that you can create something beautiful with pickings from your own garden or even items from your refrigerator. I foraged for greenery, wax flowers, asparagus shoots, golden rods, mushrooms, moss and bark - all styled wildly and naturally'.

3. that time we snuck into an english garden

‘This arrangement is inspired by a summer garden and a journey of scents. I chose shades of pink and yellow to create a warm yet light-hearted feel that would be right at home on a brunch table with Rosé Champagne and the laughter of friends,' says Jonette. To create this composition, she's used coral peonies, wax flowers, tulips, soft pink roses, delphinium hybrids, astibles, dusty millers and golden rods, all teamed with some wild pickings from a friend's farm.

Top tip: Apart from basic rules such as cutting 1cm off your bought flowers' stems at a diagonal angle so that they can soak up more water, or picking the leaves off the stems so that they don't rot when immersed in water, Jonette follows another, more unusual piece of advice. 'A Dutch woman once told me to throw a copper coin in the water with tulips to keep them from drooping early (although I do love the drama of a drooping flower),' she says. 'Some say it's a silly tale, but I've done so ever since.'

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