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Friday, July 16, 2010


Using Vintage Plant Containers

As a resident of the metropolitan city of London I, unsurprisingly, do not have any outdoor space. I live in a two bedroom flat which doesn’t have so much as a balcony; however, this has not deterred me from growing my own herbs and vegetables. Just outside the door to my flat is a large windowsill and landing, upon which I have managed to create a beautiful container garden. The key to the distinctive and idiosyncratic look of this garden is the use of vintage plant containers which I picked up from junk and antique shops. This nostalgic approach to container planting coincides effectively with current themes in garden and interior design as old-fashioned patterns, such as those championed by Kath Kidston, and antique furniture and accessories are currently very popular.

I have been growing chives very successfully in enamel tea and coffee pots as well as in medical supply containers. The chives have grown very happily in their unusual containers, providing me with a regular crop which quickly grows back after cutting. As the containers are metal and therefore subject to degrading, I have lined each container with a plastic bag before adding the soil and compost in order to ensure they remain water-tight.

I have been able to use these antique enamel containers for a number of different plants, including lavender grown in and old saucepan and mint grown in an old tea pot. All of these plants were grown from seed and have flourished successfully in their containers. To make sure the plants are properly drained I have added broken ceramics or stones to the bottom of each container.

Old ceramic containers also work very well and make beautiful holders in which to grow herbs. This ceramic bowl was picked up for a couple of pounds in an antique market and has provided a brilliant container in which to grow parsley. This particular container has a break which has been glued back together, but I have found this has caused no problems as the container has remained structurally sound and water-tight.

I have also been able to use vintage containers to grow larger plants. This pepper plant has been very happy growing in this enamel saucepan, whilst this parsley plant has thrived in this old enamel bread bin.

Vintage wooden boxes are also brilliant containers in which to grow herbs and vegetables. I have planted mint in this old cocoa box and it has been growing successfully for several years now. Like with the enamel containers, to ensure the wooden containers remain water-tight I have lined them with strong plastic bags.

I have found that I get great pleasure from my container garden and it has completely enhanced the concrete area outside my London flat. The vintage look of my container garden fits in perfectly with the quirky interior of my flat and all the plants seem to be growing very happily in their antique homes.

John Barlow works for Artscape, a company that specialises in garden design in Berkshire. He loves to use vintage items and reclaimed furniture in his garden design.


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