Thursday, July 30, 2015

The NY Times is High on Pots - What are they Smoking?

Stone Urn on a Concrete Pillar
Sometimes, and by this I mean daily,  the design pages of the New York Times provoke me to scream, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MINDS?

And I say this fondly, being an ex-New Yorker, born and raised and schooled and once able to tell at a glance a real Gucci bit on a shoe from a knock-off -- and consider this essential information.

I'm looking here at a wood frame plant stand. It's essentially an open-sided packing crate made of ash, with a built-in saucer. Pop in your pot  and it's off the floor -- Thank God the parquet is safe!

The collection, by "designer" Trey Jones, begins at $550.  I think, I'm in fact sure, there's something like this lurking in the garage, or possibly the basement. Maybe the attic.

How do they write this stuff without snickering?

Now, no one loves pots and planters more than I do -- see various posts on the subject --  but the most I've ever paid for one, and technically it's not a planter but an umbrella stand cunningly redeployed, was a hundred bucks. I considered this a charitable contribution to the legal costs of a couple of guys who got caught selling a miniscule amount of weed, which is neither here nor there.
Cast Iron Pot on Stone Stand

Otherly, every otherly, the plants  that  stud our porches and gardens (that sounds a lot grander than it is) were found -- discarded on the sidewalks, sticking out of a dumpster, or gifts of a sort, as in: Please take this or I'm throwing it out.
An Early Find in Georgetown

Generally, all one needs to do to land free stuff is have knowledge of the trash truck timetable for various neighborhoods; of course the finer the neighborhood the finer the trash.

Where once Capitol Hill  was considered more shabby than chic, and one needed to forage in Georgetown or Cleveland Park, our streets are now littered with Bugaboo strollers pushed along by au pairs and nannies endlessly chattering on their cell phones in French, and Spanish, and Chinese, and the restaurant line for Roses stretches hours down the sidewalk.

Add to that being a rather transient place, what with upheavals of political fame and fortune, and the pickings are rarefied.

Chinese Pot on a Bunch of Put Together Junk
I've found pots and pedestal bases made of stone and concrete and porcelain. A cast iron pot with curly handles, weighing easily 100 pounds and valued at around $350 (triple that in New York) was a moving giveaway. I was very moved, as was my back. It holds a sago palm and summers on the front porch atop another find, this one picked up at curbside, a wonderful stone stand with protruding lion heads that winters in the living room and makes a fine extra seat when magazines aren't piled on it.

I don't know where I found the Chinese pot on the back porch and am, in fact, amazed that it is not broken. This one comes upstairs to my little greenhouse come November.

Furzed Terracotta
Nestling near the pond,  in a collection of ferns, is a gorgeous terracotta number the Prince brought home from who knows where last year --  it's now growing a fine furz of moss, which is a lovely touch.

Furz, I've just discovered, means flatulent in German. It sounds like it should mean a fine spread of soft fuzz. Doesn't it?

Last Sunday morning I toted home three fine pots glazed green. They'll be good on the porch steps, planted with the pink hibiscus and a jasmine that are currently being smothered by elephant ears.
Concrete Pot in Front Garden

I MEAN!? WHO throws this stuff out? But they do.

We have also acquired a pair of these rough concrete pots (at right), both are tucked in the front yard ivy and usually sport something seasonal - pansies or mums, maybe tulips. At the moment they're doing this crumbly thing that I quite admire, and anyway they flank a pot I'm saving for another post that's stuffed with geraniums and lavender and something else that I can't remember.  

The swirly half moon of wrought iron behind it was another trash fine,
I believe it was a headboard. This arrangement of stuffs totally thwarts the tromp of the postal persons, a 30-year goal finally realized.

Happy trashing!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now? Elephants have Big Ears

In my garden of few successes, the elephant ears are an unqualified delight. Much like the wandering jew that meanders here and there, easily filling bald patches at the poke of a chopstick, the colocasia (just looked that up so's I'd look knowledgeable about something) devour space with glee, and need no care whatsoever -- with the exception of setting the bulb with the bit that's supposed to bud at the top (and I'm not even sure about that).  

Water, don't water, fertilize, don't fertilize, sun no sun, up they come, sooner or later -- pretty much depending on how deep I've planted them. Too deep is a perennial mistake. I buy a bag of ten or so each spring at Costco and stick them behind pots, in front of the garage window, beside the pond, behind the cherry tree, hiding the straggly base of the honeysuckle, and higgledy-piggledy every elsewhere.

The ones that come up fastest are crowded in a clay pot, covered with a couple of inches of dirt (topped with some poked in wandering jew so I remember not to toss it), and set on the back porch steps. Give them a couple of weeks, and they'll be leafed out and ready to be strewn here and there in wherever is still unoccupied. This is something, by the way, that year after year I fail to recall.

I mistakenly plant them like tulips, with 6 inches or so above their heads, and then sit here until -- um, last week in one case -- for the plants to show. And, since the wait is lengthy, and I have a hinky memory (as I believe I've mentioned), the spots must be marked (with another chopstick -- the prince bought me a pack of 100 a couple of years ago) so I won't go planting something else on top or step on an emerging sprout.
Technically, I suppose, they're much too large for this little space, but then I don't do much of anything in a small way (see various rants on the irritation of twee and, for that matter, my pruning issues, and let us not forget my vines) and their mammoth leaves add even more shade to the shade so I'm constantly moving this and that to chase the spotty sun -- the hibiscus and African gardenia are not at all happy, though they'll recover nicely in the greenhouse this winter. 

In the meantime, what giddy joy bring these giant leaves!! 

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