An indoor-garden pro extols the joy of gardening in baskets and pots
A British-born designer and stylist whose garden-related products include the furniture, baskets and pots shown here. In 2004 she received a Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Sundries Trophy at the fabled Chelsea Flower Show.
Her London home is a converted Victorian coach house and stable complex. "Our hallway, the old tack room, still has its original tack hooks and cupboards," she says.
Home is not only where she lives but also where she works, designing products "mostly for retailers who apply their own garden collection brand-name when they sell my work in their stores," she explains.
Written by Mervyn Kaufman
LEFT: White ceramic pots hold thyme (front) and white flowering lavender (rear). For drainage. Sue says she uses a mixture of polystyrene chips and crushed plastic pots in big baskets and pots (which also makes them easy to pick up and move) and broken crockery in small ones, then adds muitipurpose peat-free compost.
Sue Aylett is an avid container gardener who has built a career as a stylist for photography and television. "Using plants and flowers to help create a set is what I enjoy doing most," she says. "I think this is the reason indoor gardening is just as important to me as outdoor gardening—and why I love to collect and design beautiful things for gardens." Receiving a trophy for Excellence of Presentation at the Chelsea Flower Show was long-sought validation of her gifts, she says: "To exhibit there was an extraordinary experience for me, having attended regularly as a visitor for a great many years. Spending long, sunny days at the show ground for the build-up week prior to the opening, rubbing shoulders with the cream of the garden world and generally being part of the Chelsea Flower Show was very special."
On a tabie that Sue designed, from ieft: white flowering lavender, thyme, a mix of 'Rainbow Queen' phormium and 'Nuanza Copper Purple' osteospermum, plus 'Silver Magic' verbena and 'Hot Pink' calibrachoa. On floor, from left: sage, a mix of thymes, rosemary and Convolvulus cneorum; front: yellow viola, a mix of bidens, Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald 'n'-
Gold', gold helichrysum and Creeping Jenny.
What is your best advice for anyone wanting to decorate a home with potted plants?
Whether indoors or outdoors, keep your planting groups in families. For example, group together a selection ot baskets, old terra-cotta planters in different shapes and sizes or stoneware pots in a row. Limit your palette; let differences in shape, weave and texture carry the day And that goes for plants, too.
Why is it important to incorporate garden plants in a home?
Having plants allows you to change your decorating scheme with the seasons. For year-round enjoyment, Td suggest succulents and soleirolia for architectural shape. Add bulbs for winter and spring planting and giant begonias for the summer months.
What types of greenery should readers grow or use in decorating if they have a so-called "brown thumb"?
Outdoor evergreen foliage is hardy and comes in a variety of green tones, trom silver-green to variegated and dark, glossy green. They can give height and form to a planted container; they would also be hard plants to kill.
How do you maintain the container gardens you design and display outdoors?
The secret to successful container gardening is plant welfare, which means copious watering, particularly in hot weather. Deadheading and regular feeding with diluted tomato fertilizer for flowering plants and diluted liquid organic seaweed for foliage tire essential. Plant in peat-free
Find more magazi
Find more magazi above: A tall 'Magic Bells' kalanchoe lends height to a windowsill arrangement of white stoneware pots containing 'Mind Your Own Business' soleirolia, which grow in elegantly shaped mounds.
BELOW: Each of these giant baskets set on Aylett-designed tables contains a colorful mix of blossoming herbs. "I leave some of my baskets outdoors during summer months," she says, "but bring them under cover during the winter, to keep them from deteriorating,"
compost, and keep it moist by adding gel crystals. Note that succulents need a good mix of horticultural sand, along with the compost, for good drainage.
What sun-loving and shade-loving plants will grow well in both generous and limited light indoors?
Indoors, succulents need litde attention. I love mixing a variety of them in a single container. Varieties of kalanchoe and aloe are my favorites for fully to partially sunny but not hot locations. For awonderful ccnterpiecc, stufflarge baskets or bowls with bulbs, such as white hyacinth, and mounds of tight, mossy clumps placed in between, for a natural, fragrant, woodland effect in predominately shady areas. Once your btdbs finish flowering, put them into large pots or crates and, when green shoots begin to show, transplant them back into your indoor displays the following year.
Are there other plants that will do well and look good in baskets and pots?
Herbs such as thyme, sage, mint, lavender and rosemary— grouped together in containers—provide a wonderful variety of shapes, textures and scents. *
Nan Cobbey is justifiably proud of her patio wall and sets it off to advantage' with low-growing plants like lamb's ear,.dianthus and hosta. Spiky delphiniums and lupines act as see-through sentinels.
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Written by Barbara Winkler
Photographs by Lynn Karlfn
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