Princely Pots

potmadWhatever is it about us?  Here we are, gardeners, engaged in possibly one of the most basic, simple, inexpensive, democratic, delightful activities which feed and please body, mind and eye, yet we muddle it up with exclusivity, social status, envy, ambition, and the rest of the seven deadlies.

These dark thoughts have been stirred by a recent press release, and a trip to London where, escaping from the work needed by the garden there, I made an escapist dash into Chelsea, and thence along to a fascinating establishment called ‘The Chelsea Gardener’.

Press release first: did i know (did you know?) that there is a newish line in seriously posh garden equipment under the banner of Prince Louis Albert de Broglie. The range covers garden tools, watering cans, perfumes, foodstuffs, but also garden pots. If you want to read more about him, his chateau, etc go to

Each of the products bears a coat of arms that the press release says is ‘inspired’ by that of the De Broglie family.  OK, that’s fine if you happen to be a De Broglie, but why on earth should the rest of us pay a premium price for stuff decorated with theirs, when even if we had our own armorials, would be much too embarrassed to have them on our secateurs and geranium pots? In fact, on close inspection ‘inspired’ is a bit of a cheek – the blue cross being substituted by crossed trowel and handfork.

OK, I love a nice pot, but such things aren’t necessary for a thrilling garden – after all, geraniums or even smartypants camellias grow perfectly in old tin cans, and can be pruned, watered, and fed by the produce of the local garden centre. They can look totally wonderful too.

Right: back to posh pots.  ‘The Chelsea Gardener’ has dozens of seriously lovely pots, many in earthenware, but also in more modern materials.  Many are expensive – it is, after all, in Chelsea.  But there seems to something of a vogue to have them signed (well, to be more precise, stamped with the signature of XYZ), giving them the imprimatur of some gardening grandee.  Last time I was there, some beauties were marked by Arabella Lennox-Boyd (an aristocratic designer).  This time, those presumably having sold, the replacements were by… well, I couldn’t actually read the signature.

So we gardeners seem to need our things splattered with coats of arms and signatures, our roses named after endless aristocrats, plutocrats, telly presenters, and National Trust Gardens.  Oh, and a collection of muddy ‘Highgrove’ shopping bags hanging prominently in the garden room.

What has become of us?

The Chelsea Gardener

The Chelsea Gardener


About david stuart

garden writer and journalist, and occasionally a designer, with a garden in the Scottish borders, and his pal's gardens in Edinburgh, London, and Lincolnshire. They keep both of us very, very busy. Books I've written listed on my website, and dozens of articles and garden and plant pictures. Currently working on several new projects. One of these was to return to painting - see the blog - and which is proving exciting! or, more fun, have a look at
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2 Responses to Princely Pots

  1. Roger H. Boulet says:

    Greetings, from Summerland, British Columbia, David,,

    I have to admit that when I first visited Sweden in 1988, I could not help but purchase two lovely white jardinière type pots at Waldemarsudde. These were designed by Prince Eugen of Sweden, a very fine artist, in 1913, in a restrained Art Nouveau style. The modest Prince did not deem it tasteful to emblazon the pots with his coat of arms, but he did create a classic. Of course, I still have the beautiful white pots, still manufactured to this day, Here is a link to them:

    • david stuart says:

      Roger hi. Hope all’s well with you. Problem. I’ve been collecting aquilegia seed, and remember promising seed to Jann Bailey’s friend/sister/sister in law. The lady in question sent me her address… but I can recall her name, find her on my friend list in facebook etc etc… Any ideas?
      Actually a bit of summer here. Some Scottish zucchini, masses of fennel and celtuce, etc etc. BUT how I envy you peaches!!!

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