Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Planting Ideas -

This jar, made dur­ing the Ming Dy­nasty, was once used to trans­port porce­lain from China to Egypt. It was brought back from Egypt in 1937 and placed at the cen­tre of a rose gar­den. That rose gar­den even­tu­ally be­came Siss­inghurst’s fa­mous White Gar­den but the jar stayed put. It’s so strik­ing it doesn’t re­ally need plants, but I like to sur­round it with a se­lec­tion of pots that can change with the sea­sons and which al­lows me to in­tro­duce more ten­der plants ear­lier in the year.

How to achieve the look

Vita ex­per­i­mented with many dif­fer­ent plants for this jar, but re­turned time and again to Lil­ium for­mosanum var. pri­cei fol­lowed by Puya alpestris. I con­tinue to ex­per­i­ment and have a cho­sen the shrub Pit­tospo­rum to­bira to give the jar a fresh top. It’s sur­rounded by a sup­port­ing cast of a pre­dom­i­nantly green and white scheme. By us­ing many pots I can eas­ily ad­just the group­ing; as one pot goes over I can whip it away and re­place it with an­other, al­ready pre­pared and wait­ing in the nurs­ery. I’m care­ful not to al­low one sin­gle plant to as­sume a star­ring role or to outshine the jar. The ar­range­ment should offer de­light, but also a mo­ment of pause among the sparkling pools of white flow­ers and glim­mer­ing sil­ver-grey fo­liage all around.


1 Dry­opteris affi­nis ‘Cris­tata’ A fern that’s very ef­fec­tive in a pot and use­ful for dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions. 1.2m. AGM. RHS H5.

2 Daval­lia mariesii An epi­phytic fern na­tive of Ja­pan, with rhi­zomes cov­ered in brown scales. 20cm. AGM. RHS H2.

3 Pit­tospo­rum to­bira Medium-sized, ev­er­green shrub with glossy leaves. 4.5m. AGM. RHS H3, USDA 9a-10b.

4 Leu­co­jum aes­tivum Known as the sum­mer snowflake, it ac­tu­ally flow­ers in spring. 30cm. RHS H7, USDA 4a-8b.

5 Vi­ola soro­ria ‘Alb­i­flora’ White flow­ers with del­i­cate vi­o­let lines ra­di­at­ing from the throat. 15cm.

6 Helle­borus x hy­bridus Easy to grow in par­tial or full shade 60cm. AGM. RHS H7, USDA 4a-9b.

7 Hosta ‘Ginko Craig’ A low-grow­ing hosta with nar­row leaves edged in white (more white when placed in shade). 30cm. AGM. RHS H7, USDA 3a-8b.

8 Polyg­o­na­tum x hy­bridum Grace­fully arch­ing stems with glau­cous, blue fo­liage un­furl­ing to re­veal purewhite, pen­dent flow­ers. 75cm. AGM. RHS H7.

9 Dry­opteris ery­throsora One of the best gar­den ferns with warm, pinky­bronze, new fronds. 60cm. AGM. RHS H4, USDA 5a-8b.

10 Gre­vil­lea ros­marini­fo­lia ‘Lutea’ Aus­tralian shrub with nee­dle-like fo­liage. Needs win­ter pro­tec­tion. 2m.

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