Pots

I’ve been buying pots. This is mainly because the lawn has gone and I finally have space to accommodate them. When the stone was laid last November I thought the garden acquired a sophistication which had hitherto eluded it. No longer a suburban back yard, it became an urban courtyard, and this, I felt, called for pots.

I have concluded, however, that pots are tricky. Their selection is fraught with anxiety.  How many? What colour? What shape? What size? Symmetrically placed or informally grouped? What should I put in the damn things? The more I think about it the harder it is to make a decision.

The thing is, anything decent usually implies a substantial financial outlay, and if I’m stuck with it for a while it will need to earn its keep. Most of the planters I already have are inexpensive, so their selection was easy. They also adhere to a simple aesthetic formula: they are all terracotta and have a kind of Mediterranean feel. One did cost a bit more; it came from Pots and Pithoi and was called Dimitri. We loved him, but it appears nobody else did, because he was discontinued shortly after we bought him. The last of his line, he has stood happily with the others for ten years now, sharing their Mediterranean aesthetic, and all has been good.

A more recent purchase, however, has rocked the boat a little. It is the large mid-century shallow concrete dish (mentioned in the Stone post). It breaks the rules because it is neither upright nor terracotta. And this, I think, has unlocked the secret of successful pot selection. Its low-slung mid-century vibe has added contrast and challenged the tyranny of good taste. It has also opened my eyes to the sculptural allure of concrete. So last week I found myself back on the web searching for pieces by Willy Guhl. The eye-watering prices being asked for his pieces by some suppliers forced me to concede that perhaps Willy wasn’t for me… However, my persistence finally uncovered a pleasingly weird-shaped and affordable pair of small planters in Germany. It was only after payment that I learned I had bought one, not two.


Willy arrived from Germany this week and I have to say he does not disappoint. He is small, strangely shaped and painted dark brown, and whilst that does not sound particularly compelling in itself, when placed with the others he holds his own. In fact he adds just that element of eccentricity that I think we probably need. I have no idea what to plant in him yet, but I suspect I will go for something unassuming. Perhaps Erigeron karvinskianus. Don’t compete with Willy.


Mindful of the first rule of pot selection, (contrast is everything), I turned my attention to the shady side of the garden where there is a location that will benefit from something a little more classical. Here against the wall, almost consumed by an unruly ivy, is a mossy slab of old York stone mounted on a plinth. At its feet in the damp earth are ferns, Filipendula and Bowles Golden Grass. Liberally strewn throughout are Camassia Liechtlinii bulbs. This sounds more poetic than it currently looks. Right now it’s a sea of mud, but come spring, I am hoping it will become a slightly wild and sylvan mini-paradise, enhanced by the addition of a well-placed classical urn. I sourced the perfect candidate from an Ebayer near Cambridge and we drove up there at the weekend to get it. Old, pitted and covered in lichen and moss, it looks as though it has sat here forever. And whilst Willy is being rebellious and provocative on the other side of the garden, the old urn is balancing things out with an air of calm endurance.

19 thoughts on “Pots

  1. It seems to me that this website doesnt download on a Motorola Droid. Are other folks getting the same problem? I like this web site and dont want to have to miss it any time Im away from my coprmteu.

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  2. Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any resnnmeodatiomc? Thanks!

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  3. Pingback: Friday Favourites
  4. I found a pot bonanza in Homesense last summer. Under a tenner each, glazed, unglazed, stone-a-like, various kinds. Homesense is like TKMAXX, bit of a jumble sale, but sometimes worth popping in for garden nik-naks. Patio steps now well adorned with decent sized containers, tulips just poking through

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    1. I'm not on it yet but I think I'm going to jump on this bawadngon sooner than later! It seems cool! =)Maybe my pictures will see the light of day instead of just being on my memory cards! =P

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  5. I share your pot dilemma. I am always in search of large pots & urns that have a time-worn appearance, but they are so expensive. I inherited some large plastic pots that have a design on their sides. This summer I may experiment to see if I can’t use them as a mold to create concrete pots of my own. I already have concrete dye so I could make them a terracotta or green color. Of course this is only one of 100 garden projects I need to get after. Enjoyed this post!

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  6. I too, have pot paralysis. I have a few glazed ceramics dotted around and quite a collection of ugly plastic pots (on their way out!) I’ve been analyzing and wringing my hands all winter and have decided on black or grey. As much as I love the vivid candy-colored glazes, I fear that I will always be restricted in my container combinations by a color that clashes and will be limited to the same palette every year. So black or grey, which always look good with anything in it, is my choice. Now to add as many strange and unusual shapes for contrast!

    Lovely post, well crafted. Poor Willy; perhaps he needs a paramour?

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    1. Just visited your blog and realise you are in Seattle! So yes, your gloomy months are very similar to ours. In that case I would agree, candy colored glazes are all wrong. Black and grey look beautiful in our kind of light.
      Thanks so much for the follow – have just done the same!
      And good point, perhaps Willy needs a love interest. It is Valentines…

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      1. Originaire et habitant dans le nord, j&e;uqosrspère que mes grandes vacances tomberont au mois de février. Fait trop chaud pour nous dans le sud l’été!

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