07 May BRING THE SPRING INDOORS – BEAUTIFUL PLANTERS
Going to your local garden centre in spring has to be one of the most rewarding DIY experiences of all, something which is sure to light up your homemaking heart with sunshine (even on a rainy day). Walking through the narrow aisles of exuberant greens, colourful flowers and plucky shrubs is instantly uplifting and, if you’re lucky, you may even spot a clandestine early butterfly or two chasing each other among the blooms.
Buying plants online is, on the contrary, rather difficult and at most, uninspiring. Even though sometimes the generic information you get from the local garden centre might be a tad misleading (especially if they’ve just taken on some well-meaning but inexperienced teenage staff for the weekend), I can only buy plants online if I’ve done a heap of research or I’m looking for something specific (or if I’m buying scions from elderly ladies so devoted to their plants they overload you with information, but I’ll save that tale for another post). Otherwise it’s a very boring experience.
Well, apparently the same applies for buying outdoor plant pots online. After months of lusting on Pinterest over Ettore Sottsass’ ceramics or beautiful handmades by Kat and Roger or Shino Takeda, when spring came I finally decided to inject some life into my little decked urban terrace by investing in a few interesting and colourful planters. And with all the colours and patterns around at the moment in any interior shop, I thought this was going to be easy. But unless you visit your local garden centre or reclamation yard directly (and even there sometimes you might not find exactly what you’re looking for), the internet on this side of the Atlantic really only offers the same bog standard garden planters more or less everywhere – terracotta in various sizes (mostly round), concrete and metal in various forms (mostly square), and some glossy monochrome standard shapes (mostly in excessive bold colours). But there are only so many square terracotta or metal pots you can buy and if you’re looking for a bit of variety and a bit of lived in character, you might come unstuck.
And so it was that I found it so difficult to buy interesting plant pots for outdoors, this year I sort of gave up and focused on my indoor plants instead. I’ll have to get back to you on the outdoor front once I’ve got more to report, but in the meantime, here are some of my favourite indoor planters and plant pots. There’s not a scrap of terracotta in sight…
THE SMALL CONCRETE POTS
Handmade concrete plant pots are everywhere at the moment. Whether geometric in shape, gold leafed, neon dipped, or marbled, you can find plenty on Etsy. Quite strangely though, the majority of the handmade (and more interesting) concrete pots out there seem to be very small, ready to host only tiny succulents – so if your succulents are growing, you may want to find something more roomy.
THE (DIFFICULT TO BUY) LOVELY HANDMADE POTS
I already mentioned how much I like the pottery these guys make. So, if you are looking for handmade, but have had enough of grey concrete, have a look at what Kat and Roger (left) and Shino Takeda (right) make. Here are some really beautiful, colourful pots which are both modern and abstract, but very tactile and earthy at the same time. If only they were exporting to Europe…
THE REALLY EXPENSIVE CERAMICS
Ok, maybe all of these ceramics might be wasted as planters, but if you have some cash to splash, Felicity Aylieff (above left), and Pippin Drysdale (above right) at Adrian Sassoon, or Beate Andersen at Strandstraede Keramik (below) are the ceramists for you. Their work is BEAUTIFUL. Nothing more to add.
Or you can get a Stelton Stockholm Aquatic vase from Skandium (below), and still feel uber cool.
THE SOFT PLANTERS
This is a much cheaper, and softer, way to bring colour into the home. Mifuko is a Finnish company supporting Kenyan craftsmanship – their designs are Finnish with African inspirations and colour, but their beautiful soft handmades are crafted in Nairobi (above). You can buy directly from their shop and support their cause, and you can also find them in Darkrooom London (but at a higher price). And if you want even more colour, Marie Michielssen’s canvas planters (below) are an instant pop of happiness.
If you go for this softer option though, you’ll have to be careful to place a saucer between the textile and the inner plant pot, as the planter might get damaged if constantly exposed to humidity and water leakage.
Still soft and handwoven, but with a sturdier feel, a large basket can be easily turned into an indoor planter (same rules apply as above, so be careful not to overwater and keep a saucer or an old plate at the bottom of your basket).
The more ethical and cheaper finds are Bolga baskets (above), especially if you buy them from Fairtrade companies like Butternut Baskets. Made in areas of northern Ghana and Togo, these baskets are generally used for farming, come in all sorts of colours and sizes, and traditionally have the two handles covered together by one piece of leather (which you might want to remove if for larger plants).
If you are looking for a more sophisticated and demure finish, however, Doug Johnston is your guy (below). All his pastel colour works are delicately handcrafted in Brooklyn with 100% coiled cotton rope and exposed cotton thread and fit really well into a modern Japanese apartment (if you want to have a feel of one, you can find them in the Conran Shop).
Or, if “bold” is your word of choice this year, Marie Michielssen’s thickly woven splashes of exposed wire and colour will surely bring some sunshine in your home (below and main image).
THE HANGING PLANTERS
A lovely alternative to macramé, Pikku Potin’s copper tubing design is light, geometric and elegant (above). In fact, almost as elegant as Kelly Lamb’s handmade geodesic hanging planter (below). But then again, Pikku Potin sell in the UK, so they are easier to track down.
THE RECYCLED POTS
I’ve seen these around for a while and never managed to get hold of one until now. These colourful textile planters (left) are made of Vietnamese and Cambodian recycled rice bags by Fairtrade project recycle-recycle. The material is more waterproof than normal fabric, but it might still leak water every now and then, so make sure not to overwater.
And if you want to go on the cheap and add even more shapes and colours to your succulents collection, drill a small hole into the underside of empty spice or tea tins and fill them with soil and plants (right). It couldn’t be easier.