Summer in a pot

Rather than shopping for pots, I thought that as a gift to our beleaguered planet I would use whatever spare ones I could find. Borrowing a friend’s garden for this shoot, I dimly recalled that she had some little clay pots left over from when we did her wedding flowers; and sure enough, they were piled up in a corner. They are useless in some ways as they are so small. As a collection of massed mini-things, though, they are fine, because the plants in them will often be seen and therefore well cared for. There’s nothing nicer than seeing something tiny, close up. Alpines are due a revival of interest – I love them. I may even build a rockery one day soon...

Flowers and plant illustration bu Hannah McVicar

How to achieve the look

Garden designers Jinny Blom looks down at a small plant arranged in a clay pot in her hands

Getting the right container

These pots are the kind of thing that florists use as a cachepot when they sell tiny pots of miniature double campanulas and that sort of thing. Again I think I’ve seen them in Ikea. They’re sort of hopeless unless one really considers what’s going in them, as there isn’t room for much root growth. Alpines are perfect, as the pot will mimic a rocky crevice with a tendency to dry out suddenly and completely. The ones I used are made from a nice white-ish clay so don’t have that hard orange colour one gets with larger, more sensible terracotta pots.

Positioning the plants

What can I tell you? One plant, one pot!

Plant tips

Choose things that don’t spread, or that spread slowly. The anomaly in my collection is the oregano, which won’t be thrilled by its root-prison for long, but it should last a while with occasional pruning, and it’s easy to move to a flower bed when it begs for mercy. At that point I might replace it with woolly thyme (Thymus polytrichus). The other plants I’ve used just need water, an occasional liquid feed and an open location – think Alpine scree, not dingy corner – and all should be well. I would treat this as a seasonal decoration, as the plants deserve a better life long-term, so when you start to get bored, plant them into a larger, flattish sink and mulch with grit.

Plants you’ll need

One plant per pot

Origanum laevigatum ‘Hopleys’, Mentha requienii, Cotula hispida, Festuca glauca and Pratia pedunculata
Origanum laevigatum ‘Hopleys’, Mentha requienii, Cotula hispida, Festuca glauca and Pratia pedunculata
  1. Origanum laevigatum ‘Hopleys’
    This oregano has scented, edible leaves. It flowers in late summer. Height Up to 60cm.
  2. Mentha requienii
    Tiny, mossy leaved creeping water mint with pungent aroma. Height About 1cm.
  3. Cotula hispida
    Soft grey-green leaves and tiny button flowers hovering above. Height Up to 40cm.
  4. Festuca glauca
    Glaucous, tussock-forming grass. Height Up to 30cm.
  5. Pratia pedunculata
    Blue star creeper is a mat-forming evergreen that flowers all summer. Height About 2cm.