Bowled over

Gorgeous gypsophila display

Head gardener Matthew Reese creates an easy display for a pot that will take your breath away using the pink form of the dainty flowered Gypsophila.

Bowled over

A large elevated bowl is filled with splaying Gypsophila elegans ‘Kermesina creating an enchanting display of soft pink flower heads

I often bed out the pretty Gypsophila elegans ‘Kermesina’ in the garden but I tend to keep a few back in 9cm pots, rather than move them on into larger pots. Keeping the pot size restricted causes them to bolt and flower sooner.


Also having lots of plants in smaller pots gives me greater freedom when I’m putting displays together. In the house, I sometimes arrange them in a line along a mantelpiece or windowsill or en masse in a larger pot.

Here, I have put this bowl in an elevated position – quite high on an oak table, so the eye can appreciate its lovely shape and decoration. I also like the way the base disappears into the shadow cast by the bowl on the table.

Cultivation and care

Matthew Reese tends to pink gysophila planted arrangement

Unfortunately, this bowl has only one drainage hole, so we have to take extra measures to accommodate this shortfall. First, I placed two small crocks (pieces of broken pot) loosely over the hole, then over the crocks I mounded up a handful of sharp gravel to form a cone. This provides a larger surface area and much better drainage – alpine plant enthusiasts often employ this method to achieve good drainage. Be careful not to unsettle the gravel when filling the pot with compost. I position the tallest plants to the centre and work outwards, blending the wiry branching inflorescences from one neighbour on to the next, gradually building a swarm of tiny, rose-pink flowers. As I’m planting, I add discreet twigs to support the stems and add the bushiest plants last so they drape over the edge.


We bought this bowl at an auction and I love it as much for its shape as its decoration. It is attributed to the Compton Pottery and around the side it has a Celtic love-knot band that hints of influence from Arts and Crafts designer Archibald Knox, who worked occasionally with the pottery founder, Mary Watts. Compton pots have become highly collectable and therefore can demand high prices but they do still come up in salerooms and at car boot sales for a reasonable price.


A single bright pink stem of flowering Gypsophila elegans ‘Kermesina’

What you’ll need

Gypsophila elegans ‘Kermesina’
An annual from the Caucasus. Will flower in early spring from overwintered plants. G. elegans ‘Kermesina’ is the pink form and is shorter than the more commonly grown white-flowered version. In this pot I have used 16 plants. Grows to 50cm high x 30cm wide.

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Photography Andrew Montgomery