Southern Botanics’ mission is to capture the beauty of nature and preserve it as a precious memory. Creator Douglas Selph started Southern Botanics along with his partner, Austin Davis, after developing a lifelong appreciation for foraging for flowers and plants- evolved into a hobby of pressing these botanical specimens and mounting them into eye-pleasing compositions to share with the world.
Can you remember any particular ‘finds’ in nature that inspired you to take your collections and start creating framed art out of the things you discover?
I started Southern Botanics in 2014 after mounting and framing pressed wildflowers from a trip to Crested Butte, Colorado (the wildflower capital of the world). I received so many compliments on these pictures that I decided to focus on developing a business out of it. I really enjoy the opportunity to create art from nature as well as the aspect of learning more about the plants and flowers that we use. I’ve always loved nature and being out in nature and this has been a marvelous way to combine that love with my need to be creative and “make things”.
Do you grow any of the plants and flowers that you frame, or are they found among wildlife?
While we do pluck the occasional fern or flower from our yard or potted plants, we prefer to collect specimens in their “natural habitat”, especially when we travel to new places (although we are careful to abide by “no flower picking” signs in national parks and similar sites. Friends and neighbors are also great for sharing plants and flowers from their gardens.
Do you have a favorite flower and/or plant – and is there a reason it is your favorite?
Tough one but I do love a magnolia blossom which is why we chose it for our company logo. It’s so pure and sculptural and of course smells heavenly. I also like that the magnolia is eponymous with the South, and it is thought that magnolias first appeared on earth 95 million years ago! I have not pressed one yet though – looking forward to experimenting with that this late spring.
What are your preferred framing materials?
We purchase our frames ready-made and try to offer a wide variety of styles and materials. I particularly like more rustic wood frames since they work so well with cabin and beach house interiors.
Was the interest in photography a development that occurred as you began framing your collections? Do you have any inspirations for your photography?
I have always enjoyed photography and it definitely preceded my artwork with pressed flowers. I particularly like photographing plants and flowers in the outdoors and I think that improves my composition skills when putting pictures together. I am also hugely interested in art and architecture and love to capture that digitally. Lately, I’ve been focused on photographing dilapidated barns, farmhouses and other farm structures. We are losing so many of these every day.
Can you press specific kinds of flowers, or flowers that have significant meaning to others? (i.e. wedding, prom, memorials, etc) What suggestions would you have for those wanting to send in their special keepsakes?
We are currently working on our first order for a pressed wedding bouquet which will combine the flowers with a wedding photograph and invitation (taking apart a bride’s bouquet was rather unnerving). We hope to expand our marketing efforts in that regard.
We’ve also done flowers from funeral/memorial services which I thought was such a great way to remember a loved one. The possibilities here are really endless. We just received a special order for four pictures that would combine violets handed down from a family garden with vintage photos of family members in the garden. The power of flowers to stimulate feelings and trigger memories is just remarkable when you stop to think about it. I love that we are helping people to capture that forever.
With special orders, the main objective is for us to receive the fresh flowers as soon as possible after they are picked or used in a service or ceremony so we can immediately begin the pressing process.
How has your composition changed since you first started creating these pieces?
Our style has started out as more formal arrangements of plants and flowers so that they mimic a botanical print. However, we are starting to experiment with looser and more “casual” arrangements. We’ve also been experimenting with feathers and collages with other natural materials in shadow boxes which I am very excited about. The natural world inspires everything we do. Whether I go to the mountains, the beach or out in the backyard, I come up with a new idea to create something.