Roots Plant Life – an interview with plantsman and photographer, Richard Jon

Combining plants with photography has got to be a dream combination. Most of my cacti collection was sacrificed for window blinds and I miss them still, and resent the blinds. Richard Jon has made that connection and melds his obsessions within his company, Roots Plant Life. Our intrepid reporter caught up with Richard for a good old chat and Q&A.

Tell us a little bit about your background

I’ve been a photographer for almost ten years documenting subculture especially northern soul and skinhead.  I was born and raised in North Manchester until my parents moved to Blackpool. By then I had started my boarding school education, designed to help with my dyslexia, from the age of 7 to 16. My love for art and design has played a significant part in my life, from my 3D Design Ceramics degree at UCLAN, to working in high end fashion and now teaching my passion for photography.

A lot of Blackpool people will know you as a photographer, how did you get into plants? and why now?

Plants have always been in my life; I started by keeping orchids.  My mother is a keen gardener. The houseplants have evolved into an obsession. I believe in bio-phillic spaces, the benefits of having houseplants in your home.

What is your most important gardening tool? Is there something you can’t live without?

Definitely a single chopstick: multipurpose and not to be underestimated.

What memorable responses have you had to your plants?

Having just a few houseplants around has benefited a child who wasn’t coping with lockdown; not able to understand why she couldn’t see her friends. The plants have calmed her: she talks to them and has found a new enjoyable focus. 

You’ve collaborated with Artists Poulton, selling their hand-thrown pots. Can you tell us more about that?

I love supporting other artists. Having a ceramic background myself I am aware of how handmade pots can be under-appreciated. This also ties in with the Roots Plant Life ethos. 

What is your favourite plant? How many plants do you have at home?

I’m not allowed to have a favourite plant but if you were to press me I do have a soft spot for Chester our Cheese Plant.  

What is your best-seller?

String of Pearls is always very popular together with String of Hearts. 

Do you have any advice for first-time plant owners?

Don’t be overwhelmed: plants are to be enjoyed. Any plant will let you know if it’s unhappy. 

What are your plans for the future?

I would love to continue to see Roots grow, but I have other projects planned this year; circumstances dictate some will carry over to 2021. 

Have you got anything that you would like to promote?

My photography will continue, from portraits to my Where the Wind Howls project, which captures Fylde Coast seascape images. 

BONUS QUESTION

How has lockdown affected you and your work?

The lockdown has meant that some amazing photography projects are on hold. But without lockdown I wouldn’t have had the time to dedicate to Roots.  It’s been great that we have been able to connect with people doing our doorstep deliveries. 

Quick fire round:

1. Cake or Pie? Cake

2. Book or Film? Film

3. Facebook or Twitter? Both a necessary evil.

4. Be the funniest person in the room or the most intelligent? Funniest.

5. Fulfil Your Biggest Wish Or Solve Your Biggest Regret? Fulfil your biggest wish.

6. Favourite or most inspirational spot in Blackpool? On the beach looking out to sea.

7. Song that sums up how you’re feeling now? Ba Ba Boom – The Jamaicans

8. Thing That You Miss Most During Lockdown? Sunday catch up with family.

Many thanks to Richard for taking time out for this interview. Best wishes go to all his enterprises. Now I want a new cheese plant. The last had to go in the 90s due to lack of space in my little flat. I also now regret even more that my Dragon Tree was set on fire by a Christmas candle, although I still have its babies.

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