The more time I have to spend with these new French glazed pots, the better I like them. These were made at one of the few potteries in Anduze still hand throwing, or rope throwing, their pots. These pots rank among the best quality available in handcrafted French pots. Originally produced to provide homes for citrus trees, these pots have been in production for centuries. The custom glaze created for us is more olive than blue green, and less shiny than the traditonal French glazed pots. This particular design by renowned French potter Jean Gautier in the late 18th century features the faces of cherubs, garlands, and fleur de lis-a stylized depiction of a lily so strongly symbolic of all things French. The double roll of clay just beneath the garland is a detail from the original that takes much time and skill to model.
This ornate French cast iron pot and its base, hand hewn from a solid block of stone, dates back to the 19th century. It is an antique ornament that exudes French garden history. Colonies of lichens have made homes here. I am sure once they are exposed again to rain, they will regain their volume and color. If you like classical garden ornament, this is a breathtakingly beautiful and one of a kind example.
This coupe, or cup shaped, planter is my favorite of the glazed group. The bacchus medallion and garlands are modelled in sharp relief; the shape is exquisite. The glaze sunk into the deeply incised cuts, and appears almost black. This pot, I would have. There are a lot of new things here, given a pair of containers from France, each object in each one chosen to give pause. There are lots of stories, and history that comes with them. But that is no means all there is to see. Rob has a particular gift for the little things. He does not overlook those small things that satisfy. What constitutes a small thing that satisfies? An old trowel that is a favorite trowel. Warm winter boots that have spent the previous night warming up on the radiator. A zinnia poking its head through the soil just days after sowing the seed. Cruising the garden after work. A favorite perennial freshly in bloom.
We will have a house full of fabulous for the spring-new, vintage and antique. One of a kind and handmade. Ornament, sculpture, tools, structures-and of course, the pots. Great French platters for the summer dinner table. But we do none of this at the expense of the little things.
In 1668, a law was passed in France stipulating that only olive oil based soaps made in strict accordance with ancient methods could be labelled “Savon de Marseilles”. Olive oil, alkaline ash from sea plants, and salty water from the Mediterranean are heated in cauldrons for ten days, after which they are poured into open pits to harden. This Savon de Marseilles happened to be poured around a series of stout branches. Soap on a stick. A little thing this-but what gardener would not be pleased to see it, and use it, over and over again? Company coming? Soap on a stick in the powder room-friendly. Engaging.
This chicken wire cloche has a wood top, and a stout rope attached. The intent here is to keep the rabbits away from your spring lettuce. Its a small thing, keeping the rabbits from getting to your lettuce first, but an important thing. A very simple structure made from the most ordinary of materials that works-excellent.
A ball of twine is a little thing that gives great pleasure. The balls are wound in a beautiful way. This is French linen twine. The texture, color and scent is irresistable. It might be used to tie up a plant to a stake, or wrap a package for a good friend having a birthday. On the right, a hank of raw flax fibers-the material from whence linen is made. The fibers have been carded into parallel strands known as roving. Lustrous and beautiful, this. What would I do with it? All the possibilities for this are part of what I would call a gardener’s simple pleasure.
These white French glazed terra cotta pots and lanterns are striking. The simple and unpretentious woven baskets on the left will hold flowering bulbs, annuals and early spring vegetables, come spring. A little basket of spring for my front porch-a small and simple pleasure.
This small candle comes with a chalkboard stick inset in the wax, and its own piece of chalk. What could be written on that stick? You decide.
Rob found this collection of miniature pots at a flea market. They are maybe 2 inches across. Who made these, and why? I spent time looking and thinking about them-many more than 2 inches of my time.
These little concrete sculptures frogs have a great surface. They would occupy next to no space. The place a gardener reserves for the little things is an important place. Packets of seeds rubber banded together. A great dibble. A thermometer. A hard cultivator, or a decent pair of muck boots. A favorite pair of gloves. The little things can be about those very personal things.
If you wonder what these are, I did too. This is a French terra cotta watering bell-for seedlings. The bottom of this bell is terra cotta, perforated with lots of holes. You immerse the entire bell jar in water-there is an unseen hole in the top. Once the jar is full of water, you put your thumb over the hole in the top. When you move your thumb off the hole in the top, a gentle shower of water exits the bottom. Watering a seedling tray with this-a little pleasure.
These small vintage French terra cotta pots came with rusty wire handles embedded in the clay. Rob bought substantial spherical candles with long wicks that fit perfectly into these little pots. A few hung in a tree near the terrace and lighted-a little thing attending a quiet dinner in the garden. It is not a simple thing to remember the little things that give gardeners great pleasure, with great style. I greatly admire Rob for how and that he does this.