After a long absence, Bloombox Club is proud to reintroduce the Begonia maculata, a rare foliage plant with two-toned leaves and distinctive white polka dots.
Not so long ago, the Begonia maculata was relatively easy to obtain in UK plant markets and stores. But in 2020, due to restrictions on where particular varieties can travel, and growers reducing their assortment thanks to coronavirus, the plant has been much harder to source.
Our Begonia maculatas are grown by the innovative and curious purveyors of rare plants, Smit Kwekerijen. Led by plant hunter Obed Smit, Smit Kwekerijen pride themselves on cultivating unique, healthy and reliable houseplant varieties. Many of their plants can be traced from rainforest to lab to your front door. You can read more about how Smit discover, hybridise and stabilise rare plants here.
Maculatas have long crinkle-cut leaves which finish in a point. Their foliage is coloured a deep green on top, with a deep reddish-pink overleaf. The Polka Dot variety has a series of perfect white spots on the top. With respect to their shape and pattern, an alternative common name for the Polka Dot Plant is the ‘Trout Plant.’
If you care for your Begonia maculata and follow a strict indoor-plant care regime, then this plant will flower up to three times a year - displaying gorgeous pink and white flowers which look startling and stunning against the already intriguing, speckled leaves and body of the Begonia.
But the main reason this plant has particular clout, is a widely-circulated legend that Begonias inspired the shoe designer, Christian Louboutin, to create his signature red-soled stilettos.
Christian Louboutin is a French fashion designer who began his career as a designer by working freelance, before beginning his own celebrity-clientele shoe salon in Paris. Soon he was one of the biggest shoe designers in the world. In particular, he captured the public’s imagination with his red-lacquered stilettos. In the 1990s and 2000s, the flash of scarlet accompanying the click-clack of heels down a Paris boulevard or catwalk was an immediate sign of glamour.
A little-known fact is that Christian Louboutin almost made landscape gardening his full-time career. He said to Rakes progress magazine;
“I find gardening very relaxing. From an early age, I have been an Animist, even before I understood what that meant. I don't believe in God, I believe in energies and life of different forms - trees, plants, animals. When I did discover what it meant I felt totally at ease with the idea.”
Louboutin also spoke to Vogue Magazine in 2019 about his passion for plants and gardening, saying that he has always been interested in shrubs, trees, barks, foliage and flowers – “their colour combinations, textures and shapes are a deep source of inspiration. When I design a shoe, I think of what colours look good together, and it usually reflects what looks beautiful in a garden.”
Here Are Some Of The Plants That Louboutin Cites As Inspiration:
“They are super delicate and gracile flowers. I like the subtle tones and colours, but also the pistils, which can be totally different from one variety to another and create a completely different flower.” Says Louboutin
Louboutin brought some flowers from his 13th Century Chateau in Champgillon to Scott’s summer terrace for their collaboration. He chose yellow Osteospermum flowers as a nod to the French Sun King, Louis XIV.
Louboutin’s home in Champgillon has a canopy of falling wisterias which can be seen in these photos for House and Garden Magazine
“Many designers think of paintings, but if I close my eyes I would see nature. The colours and the textures just add up for me. A magnolia is a thick leather, probably patent.” Louboutin told the Telegraph
“A pansy is definitely suede or velvet. When I think of what colours look good together on a shoe, it's usually ones that I have thought look good together in the garden. I don't make mood boards, this is how I research.”
Andy Warhol’s “Flowers” series
The first shoe to be decorated with Louboutin’s signature red sole was actually a prototype which had a buckle inspired by a Warhol flower.
Monet & Van Gogh – poppies, sunflowers, waterlilies and more!
Louboutin launched the 2014 Spring Summer collection with a series of photographs by Peter Lippmann, depicting the collection’s pieces alongside floral arrangements inspired by the floral works of impressionists including Monet and Van Gogh.
Although Louboutin himself has yet to cite the Begonia as his inspiration for his red shoe soles, we are certainly reminded of the two-toned shoe when we see our own Maculatas (and thankfully, they’re a lot more affordable!).
Get your own Begonia maculata here, with UK-wide delivery.