This article first appeared on Open Journal on September 26, 2014. Image courtesy of The Planthunter.
Georgina Reid tells me she is out “hunting wildfowers in Western Australia” when I contact her for this interview. It sounds like just another day in the office for the talented Sydney-based founder and editor of The Planthunter – an online magazine that is “devoted to celebrating plants and the various ways humans interact with them”.
It’s a gorgeous site full of stunning images of all things plant-related with editorial that spans profiles of gardens and the people that cultivate them; the relationship between plants and art, design and culture; along with how-tos, recipes, travel pieces, plant goods and more. Georgina is also the principal landscape designer of Reid & Friends, an occasional photographer and contributor to The Design Files.
Open Journal caught up with Georgina to talk life, work and inspiration in her home city of Sydney.
1. What is a current influence/source of inspiration?
The natural world – seriously! There is so much to be inspired by if you stop and look at the world happening outside. I am also reading a book about the different ways Australian native plants have been used by indigenous people – it’s kinda amazing and makes me want to run away to the bush. Oh, and Instagram, of course… But plants win every time!
2. And a past childhood influence? What early memory do you have of being interested in writing, design and plants?
I have always been interested in plants. I grew up on a farm and spent much of my spare time helping my mum in the garden and roaming around the paddocks with my siblings. It was a life very much immersed in the landscape.
I studied journalism at university but quickly decided reporting on the news wasn’t for me – I hadn’t realised my passion at that stage. Plants were not something I took seriously until my early twenties. Once I found plants, I found my writing voice as well. Writing became much more pleasurable.
I’ve always been creative, but again, my creativity was never really focused until I discovered plants. It sounds a bit dorky but it’s true!
3. If you weren’t doing what you do, what other field could you see yourself working in?
Well. I haven’t told anyone this but I have a secret dream of moving to the south of France and becoming a perfumer. Other than this, perhaps photography. I studied it for a while and do love the magic of capturing moments, light and mood.
4. When you meet somebody you don’t know at a party, how do you answer the question “What do you do?”
Badly! My self-promotion skills leave a lot to be desired. I have tried to improve my elevator pitch but I just end up rambling. I should say “I am the editor of the most amazing online magazine about people and plants you have ever read”. But I end up saying some kind of nonsense about doing ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’ and quickly turning the conversation around to the other person’s profession.
5. Sydney: What about it works for you?
The location. It’s spectacular. The harbour, the bushland, and the fact that you can feel like you are in the middle of nowhere within 45 minutes drive from the city centre.
The people. There are some amazing humans in Sydney doing amazing things. It is such an energising place to be!
The food. So much great food…
6. What doesn’t?
All the qualities that make it an attractive place to live also make it a hard place to live… I love it but I also need to escape it. Too many people, too many buildings, not enough sky. Growing up with big skies and open spaces has ruined me. I need to regularly escape Sydney in order to keep myself grounded.
7. What garden has most impressed you among all those you have seen or worked on?
Oh gosh! I have been lucky to have worked on, and visited, some amazing gardens. The spaces that affect me the most are the ones where you can really see the passion of the individual coming through in them. They are generally not grand, show-stopping gardens, but more modest, and interesting. They’re usually a bit weird too.
8. What is a typical workday like for you?
Writing, designing, emailing emailing emailing, talking, editing, uploading, resizing, social media-ing, scheming, dog walking, cooking, sleeping.
9. Last film, book or album that grabbed you?
I’m currently reading a book about cognitive science and dogs and am now brimming with interesting facts about the length of a dog’s nose in relation to their ability to play fetch.
10. What are you currently working on (or next)?
I am currently working on how to make enough money to buy land in the mountains and grow plants to harvest their oil for perfume making. A fragrance farm! Aside from that, I am endlessly (and happily) working on The Planthunter. There are a few fun things in the pipeline but I’m keeping them to myself at this stage…!
11. If you could change one thing about…
Humans, I would change the generally accepted mindset that assumes our separation from the natural world. We’re all connected.
12. If you could give yourself one piece of advice to your 21-year-old self, what would it be?
Be kind to yourself.