Located in Clapton, the shop has its origins further afield. Maynard grew up in Fitzrovia but inherited her passion for plants from the Greek-Cypriot matriarchs in her family. “My mother and grandmother had a strong influence on my love of nature and ideas about how this could be applied to life in the city. My grandmother tended to our urban garden in London and my mother dried flowers for cards and artworks. There was always green around me as a child.”
After a move east, Maynard’s green fingers began to itch and, lacking a garden, she turned to houseplants. As her obsession grew, she left her job in menswear to open Botany in 2014. Since then she’s been selling low-maintenance plants such as asparagus fern and aspidistra, as well as trickier foliage like begonia and maidenhair fern. Walking in from the street feels like entering a greenhouse: the white interior is cool and calm, giving centre stage to an edit of greenery on wooden tables.
Ceramics in muted hues line shelves and hang from the ceiling, trailing plants such as strings of heart ivy. Many pieces are specially commissioned by Maynard, such as Pip Hartle’s subtle one-of-a-kind works (from £48) with decoration influenced by textiles and landscapes from around the world. There are also milky white pots (from £20) by Danish artist Anne Black and unadorned pottery (from £40) by Andrea Roman, a Mexican artist based in London who uses three types of clay to create a textured effect. “Her style is raw and earthy,” says Maynard. “It lets the plant do the talking rather than the pot.” Other interesting finds include a sage-green Haws indoor watering can (£40) and a navy cotton and leather Bramble & Mr Twigg bag (£125).
Botany’s fanbase includes designer Simone Rocha and musician Natasha Khan, aka Bat for Lashes, as well as many of the area’s actors, architects and restaurateurs. But visitors have come from as far as Brazil and Canada after discovering the store’s Instagram feed. Some customers are so loyal they propagate hard-to-source plants for Maynard – a neighbouring horticulturalist grows handsome purple oxalis in his loft.
Intimate workshops (from £45) on subjects such as botanical drawing, caring for houseplants or natural dyeing are held in the space and Maynard has installed a wellness area for holistic face and body treatments (from £45). Plant-themed, small-batch organic skincare products are given prominence, such as bergamot and rosemary hand balm (£26) from Honest Skincare or multipurpose orange and geranium pure oil (£21) by Meraki, a Danish beauty brand.
Although Maynard is branching out by offering locally made and sourced clothing, her heart remains with the plants. “The joy of pot plants is that they become centrepieces in their own right. It’s about bringing something big and whole into your space – as much akin to interior design as gardening. You notice the changes too: the smallest sprout, or a new bud emerging.