Anna Macoboy: Coming Home to Plants in Perth

“I’ve always been interested in plants,” says plant designer and educator Anna Macoboy. “My mum is a keen gardener and has a large property in Dwellingup (south east of Perth) with grape vines, a garden full of exotic species and large areas of bush. It’s beautiful to go there because it’s peaceful and isolated and you’re surrounded entirely by nature.”

Whilst Anna has always had a deep love for plants, it was a visit to Japan in 2006 that inspired her to take her affection one step further.

She discovered kokedama (a ball of soil wrapped in string and covered in moss, in which a plant grows) and “became a little obsessed.”

She started making and selling them at her Perth retail store, Mr Sparrow, and soon began teaching kokedama workshops and installing them for clients.

In 2012 Anna sold Mr Sparrow and made the decision to pursue gardening full time. She headed overseas, determined to learn as much as she could about plants and flowers; working at nurseries, teaching workshops and studying botany at the New York Botanic Gardens. “New York was so foreign to me. When you start to look at it from a botanical point of view it is amazing and so different.”

After honing her skills in traditional floristry in New York, she went on to work for Sprout Home, and then onto Tula the plant truck (check out our interview with Tula here). “I managed workshops for Tula. They have a philosophy that plants are a long-term investment, not a commodity. They are all about plant education as well. That really resonated with me.”

Now back in Perth, Anna has just launched her own business, Wilding, where she hosts workshops on plant care and kokedama as well as working on commissioned plant and floral installations and small-scale garden design. Her work at Wilding is greatly influenced by the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi – the idea that there is beauty in the imperfections found in nature and the transience of natural beauty.

The fact that the natural world is “always changing and out of our control; not quite perfect,” inspires Anna.

I love the way that nature doesn’t strive for perfection. I try and imitate nature rather than make it look completely perfect…I like everything very organic and handmade using found materials.”

Anna is currently working on an installation for Feld & Co, a Perth event space for creatives. She weaves Cissus rhombifolia around wires which will eventually grow up towards the ceiling and spill over the balcony into the space below. There are things she has gathered from her mum’s property, like the Eucalyptus branches which frame the front door, on which the Bougainvillea ‘Rosenka’ will eventually grow, its orange-pink flowers designed to complement the apricot coloured door.

She is soon to launch a free monthly plant swap at Feld & Co. “I used to host these plant swaps with a friend whilst I was living in New York. We just really wanted to have an event that was a plant lover’s community where people can go and meet other people who are into plants. They can bring something home and swap knowledge and learn new things.  There didn’t seem to be anything similar happening here in Perth so I decided to start my own.”

Anna is truly in love with plants: “I love the hands-on nature of working with plants – the fact that you are building something and working with your hands. I’ve always been drawn towards things like that. At the same time I’m constantly learning new things. As soon as I think I’ve learnt about one plant, I learn something new about it. It’s so fascinating. There are so many different facets to the whole plant and floral industry. There are so many ways to be a part of it.”

Find out more about Anna’s beautiful work by visiting her WEBSITE and INSTAGRAM. You can also have a read of Anna’s writings for TPH here!

Chery-Lynn Wee is a photographer and founder of the Maker’s Portrait, a platform for showcasing the stories of Perth’s creatives & change-makers. Find out more by visiting Cheryl’s WEBSITEINSTAGRAM and VIMEO.