Introducing Gertrude Jekyll

c. The Graceful Custom, 2016 C,Jekyll coverIt’s not just about plants here, it’s also about the ‘pots we put them in’ – and ‘on’ and ‘with’ too.  There’s much more to come about our antique stands and vintage pots, but for now we’re going to share a moment with a kindred spirit: Gertrude Jekyll.

It was Catherine Horwood’s fantastic ‘Potted History’ which first led us to Gertrude and her book ‘Flower Decoration in the House’ from 1907.

As Catherine points out, Gertrude is rather worried about what we should be calling pots:

‘”Receptacle” is quite a good word but has a certain stiffness.  One writes “receptacle,” but once scarcely says it.  “Pot-holder” is uncouth – loutish.  “Receiver” sounds like part of lamp.  “Holder” is perhaps a little less rude than “pot-holder,” and yet has some displeasing, though, perhaps, intangible taint.’

This rather endearing ramble leads into a serious point about how the choice of ‘holder’ is central to the success of the plant in room decoration and should at least have ‘a general affinity of design and style’ with the space it is placed in.  While we have no problem saying or writing ‘pot-holder’, Gertrude is right on this point – increasingly so as we use plants more and more for interior design styling and not just simply for the love of them.

Even separated by more than a century, Gertrude has us nodding in other places too.  For example, her doubts about terracotta garden pots being used indoors: ‘the rough surface of the baked clay is not generally suitable.’  Given that terracotta pots are the most enduring indoor plant pot, we now feel less like we are committing a sacrilege by confessing they aren’t our favourites.

And lastly, a point we will no doubt return to in later posts, we are completely with Gertrude on her disbelief on the availability of good indoor pots, particularly given how popular house plants have become (again):

‘Now that plants are so much used in room it seems strange that the want of really well-designed and otherwise suitable articles for containing them, such as undoubtedly exists, should be so inadequately supplied.’

In 2016, try finding a decorative pot to even fit your plant inside (without its plastic pot showing – please!), let alone one that is truly stylish and affordable too.