Instagrammer of the Week: Botanicaetcetera

In a world of ever more online activity, it’s perhaps no wonder that we’re increasingly turning towards those with a discerning eye to help sort the wheat from the chaff. In her own words, the curated feed of Maggie Sheperd, Botanicaetcetera, features “images from the natural world created by talented florists and artists.” And yet, it’s so much more than that. Maggie’s hand-selected images turn the spotlight on people and artists from all over the world, creating a unique online gallery in which one can not just admire art, but venture into new dimensions of discovery.

Maggie, your account tells us very little about yourself. Who is the person behind the wonderful world of floral art, nature and beauty that we’re treated to via @Botanicaetcetera?

My initial background was in fashion, as the name and designer behind Maggie Shepherd, a range of ‘individual originals for original individuals’ which sold throughout Australian and the United States. A natural progression from fashion into interior styling, inspiring my first IG site @mag.giesheph.erd, which features ‘superior interiors’, architecture and the way we live, relate and decorate. All things botanical may seem a long way from fashion and furnishings, however, I have always been a garden ‘tragic’ and a sucker for a scented flower so I couldn’t resist!

A profile portrait of a man created entirely from flowers, petals and foliage
‘Primavera’ by Mexican-German Post-Contemporary sculptor and photographer, Klaus Enrique @klausenrique

Have you noticed an increasing demand for curated feeds such as yours?

I believe that people are always keen to follow sites that are dedicated to a particular theme and that tell a story. They also need to keep the number of sites they follow to a minimum,  just to be able to view them all each day, and so this makes highly focused feeds very attractive.

An overflowing 'still life' of flowers in a Dutch blue and white painted urn on a black background
A bountiful, floral display by Dutch baker, cake decorator, and spare-time florist, Natasja Sadi @cakeatelieramsterdam

How do you go about discovering content?

I often look at who is following me to discover hidden gems, and then sometimes who is following them and so it goes on. I may search Pinterest, or ask Professor Google for images which relate to what I might be looking for.

An 18th century painting depicting a plant with two birds in the foreground of a tropical landscape
Study of a large flowering sensitive plant by Robert John Thornton, 1768-1837

Do you have a strategy when it comes to posting, or is it a question of ‘going with the flow’?

I have a quite structured approach which I try not to vary. I aim to post three times every day, in the morning, late afternoon and late night, so that the feed has a global reach and is not just stuck in one time zone. I like to post images of glorious flowers interposed with images of things that relate to the natural world,; it may be of animals, an antique print, embroidery with a floral motif, or a painting, perhaps.

A photograph of brightly coloured flowers on a black background
“Botanical IV waterlilies” by New York photographer, Paulette Tavormina

What’s been your biggest revelation from using Instagram?

Wow, Instagram is a world unto itself which you can either dip or dive into. I’m constantly amazed at how many marvellously talented people there are out there, the famous as well as the emerging artist. I hope my posts can give them a new wider audience.

A painted landscape or trees and water gilded with gold leaf
“What’s Going on Here” by UK artist Jethro Buck @jethro_buck

Have you made any new friends along the way?

I have met so many great people on both sites and still am rather bemused and flattered that after London and New York, Paris, Moscow and São Paulo rate the top number of followers.

Little fox by photographer Ossi Saarinen @soosseli
‘Little Fox’ by Finnish photographer Ossi Saarinen @soosseli

Who do you follow yourself?

Lots of really creative florists, of course, botanical photographers and photographers of the natural world. There are also artists, artisans, gardeners whose work interests me, and of course, my friends and family.

By photographer Juergen Birchler
Ranunculus and chocolate vine by Swiss photographer, Juergen Birchler @juergenbirchler

What are your favourite flowers?

Where to start? I like too many to name just one, but perfume plays a big part, and so I’d have to include lily of the valley and violets, frangipani, which perfumes our garden and, for sheer unabashed flamboyance, the bougainvillaea growing over our doorway.

Agapanthus flower by botanical photographer Sandy @pottersarms
Agapanthus flower by Tasmanian photographer, Sandra Rofe @pottersarms


Header image: ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ by South African artist and graphic designer Karin Miller