His passion for plants led this native of Barcelona and member of the Catalan gentry to devote himself body and soul to one of the loveliest professions: landscape design, floristry, the creation of settings for events and the decoration of some of Europe's most elegant interiors.

Today he talks to Premium from his active "retirement" in Palma, where he owns one of the most celebrated and exclusive interiors shops. Everything for sale in Il Jardinetto is carefully selected by Janer, who scours the world’s best trade fairs to find pieces to meet his customer’s needs. His customers are demanding and have great taste. At the same time, they know when to rely on his knowledge, gathered over years at the head of an enterprise that began in Barcelona when our protagonist turned his back on the family business and followed in the footsteps of the family's gardener, who taught him much of what he knows.

José María Janer
José María Janer

It all began when his father let him work a plot in the huge garden that surrounded their house on Mount Tidibabo, overlooking Barcelona. Passionate about landscape design, which needs time to grow, he decided in the meantime to open a flower shop specialising in the creation of magical events, capable of transforming a vacant site into a magnificent venue for a specific event in a single day. The enterprise was a resounding success and he became indispensable at the most prestigious private and corporate events, first in Catalonia and then all over Spain and Europe.

Il Jardinetto
Il Jardinetto

According to Janer, a setting can only be great if it has soul, and that can only be achieved when its creator knows and understands the setting inside out. His greatest moments in Spain, Italy or France have all been memorable, but the one he recalls most fondly is the presentation of a Bulgari product, an event he co-created with the family owners of the Italian luxury brand. The Bulgari family knew how to explain what they wanted, they knew how to give instructions and pass on their knowledge, he says. He is equally appreciative of the trust placed in him over so many years by society's leading ladies, who unfailingly turn to Janer to embellish the most significant moments of their lives. He prefers not to mention names, though he has been fêted for his Christmas decorations for the Marquess of Samaranch, who invited the press to photograph them. The Marquess is always dressed byPortegaz, who created her wedding dress as well as Queen Letizia's. The Spanish designer was one of Janer’s greatest friends.

In 1997, Janerleft Barcelona for Palma, where he opened a small shop which quickly grew to become a point of reference for the city. It has been another resounding success, thanks to his know-how and his holistic understanding of the business. Important clients are treated accordingly and always made to feel special. José María Janer’s shop in Palma is a haven in a world of the mass-produced, catering to the tastes of a minority which seeks refinement. Curiously, fortunately, that minority is getting bigger all the time.

Mallorca society adores him and he loves the island. He knows every one of its plants, every one of its terrains, the best of its wetlands and the marvels hidden away in the rain-fed spaces. Janer enjoys his work so much that he doesn't think about the time he invests in it. His life is, and has always been, his work, though he also likes to cultivate friendships. He adores learning and brings to mind another of his great friends, the Catalan writer Terenci Moix. As boys they would sneak away to the cinema to watch Marilyn Monroe movies together. He admired Moix's love of life, a passion which rubbed off on Janer in his own way. His tenacious approach to life is reflected in the recent rejuvenation of his shop,now reinvented with a new twist. The result is superb. Janer only stocks things that he would have in his own home, a fact that comes across to his customers.

Janer loves flowers, peonies in particular, because all flowers give life. A flower, even a cut flower, is a metaphor for life. It opens, reaches full bloom, then suddenly begins to wilt, though not for that losing the beauty of its changing forms. Life for Janer is continual change, a perpetual and lifelong movement towards beauty, as reflected in his very own garden at Calle Verí in the centre of Palma. The ability to create a setting that is alive, that changes with the four seasons and looks different every day, is a unique gift and the privilege of a rare fewpossessed of an aesthetic that can bring enjoyment to many people.

Esteban Mercer

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