Bright green palm leaves, swaying against a gentle breeze; peonies bursting out in bloom; the smell of freshly cut grass — it’s all deliciously relaxing.
Very much at the heart of our green and pleasant land, we British have always loved botanicals: on our walls and upholstery, framed or on frocks, we are instantly captivated by plants and flowers
A room just isn’t properly ‘dressed’ unless there is a large, lush plant stretching out from one corner, off-set against painted floorboards and white walls!
This summer fashion has a whole garden centre’s worth of prints: cacti, hydrangea, palms, ditsy daisies, bright marigolds and huge floral motifs.
For inspiration visit the wonderful local Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens or a potter around Groves in Bridport is sure to get your juices going!
Sarah Jane Wilson meanders down the path through the garden of earthly vintage delights.
Large rose tapestry rug
Such sumptuous charm: this vast rug is possibly Romanian in origin. The needlework is superb and it would add real depth and warmth to a room. £200, Old Times (at Symondsbury Estate).
What to collect:
A lot of the Staffordshire potteries produced lovely designs with plant and floral motifs. If you have a favorite species you could start to build a collection around it, or choose one pottery firm and build a collection from there. Hand-painted botanical reference books are items to treasure. For a super modern stance, try Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s crazy smiley flower designs.
This jubilantly green teapot brings Kermit the Frog to mind. A fun addition for any collector of teapots — and Sadler knew how to make fun teapots! £9, Lyme Regis Antiques and Craft Centre.
Bridport Flax & Hemp
Bridport is famed for its rope-making, which required both flax and hemp. These were grown in parishes around Bridport (particularly Bradpole, Loders and Symondsbury) — in 1794, there were about 100 acres of hemp and 410 acres of flax being grown in Dorset. However, imports were also taking over and between 1783 and 1790, on average, 337 tons of hemp and 293 tons of flax were imported annually.
The gardens of Bridport and the surrounding area too were vital in the production of rope. East Street, for example, was home to many spinning walks and linewalks.
(Source: Rope, Net and Twine: The Bridport Textile Industry by Richard Sims).
Art deco hand-painted jug
This 1930s hand-painted jug is by Myott and Son. Its vivid orange centre (used in quite a few designs) is quite striking. I’m thinking lashings of ginger ale, or something more alcoholic! Myotts is famed for its jugs; once known as the ‘poor man’s Clarice Cliff’, it is now widely collected for its naïve quality. £29, Lyme Regis Antiques and Craft Centre.
Green uranium deco glass bowl
This fabulous bowl would certainly take centre-stage at a supper. Uranium glass is made by adding small amounts of uranium oxide to the glass mixture to give it the vivid colour, which glows brightly under UV light (adding another dimension to your supper party?!). £65, Lyme Regis Antiques and Craft Centre.
Burleigh (Burgess and Leigh) plate
(shown behind bowl)
For Burleigh fans — and there are many — this is a fine example of classic handcrafted English earthenware. £18, Lyme Regis Antiques and Craft Centre.
We can’t write about botanicals without a mention of Mr Morris! The name William Morris instantly conjures up his inspirational botanical designs.
Morris’ first wallpaper design was Trellis, a pattern suggested by the rose-trellis in the garden of his house in Bexleyheath, Kent, designed in 1862. The first pattern to be issued, in 1864, was Daisy, a simple design of naively drawn meadow flowers.
He was hugely influenced by plants, either observed in his gardens, on country walks, or images of plants in 16th-century woodcuts, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries and other textiles with floral imagery.
I was very tempted by this myself! It’s got such a fabulous print and a lot of potential usage: camping (obviously), spare bed, seat cover, in the garden, chucked in the back of the car for emergency seating… I can picture the scene: just rolling it out at a hip festival, Django Django playing in the background… £32, The Alleyways, Bridport.
A lovely piece to pop in front of a disused fire or during the summer to prettify the space. £25, Old Times (at Symondsbury Estate).
Textiles & Plants
Cotton is spun from the fibres attached to the seeds of the cotton plant.
Linen is made from the woven fibres of the stems of the flax plant.
Green grass, through its consumption by cows and sheep, leads to the source of wool and leather.
There are many other plants with fabric links including the walnut (Juglans regia) — walnut husks produce a strong dye. Brown dye made from black walnuts is very lightfast so will not fade over time.
This is the most utterly magnificent piece! Used at The Gherkin (or 30 St Mary Axe) in London, they’re not cheap but are guaranteed to make any guest green with envy! Especially with that narrative. £1,000 each, The Alleyways, Bridport.
You can’t go wrong with Wedgwood! This is part of the Etruria range — Etruria was the fourth and penultimate site for the Wedgwood pottery business (from 1769 — 1950). There’s a fantastic 3D digital reconstruction of Etruria at www.wedgwoodmuseum.org.uk/learning/virtual-etruria. £7.50, Lyme Regis Antiques and Craft Centre.
Plants throughout the home add life to a space. Be creative — some cuttings in a vintage milk bottle, cacti in zinc planters in the bathroom, that trendy large palm in a corner. Hanging planters are having a moment and are great if you are short of shelf or floor space.
Zinc planters (various)
Add a touch of tranquil Zen-like zinc in the garden with these fantastically versatile planters. £17, Old Times (at Symondsbury Estate).
Art deco hors d’oeuvre dish
Another 1930s gem, this piece is by George Clews. You could serve your home-grown delicacies in this pretty little platter. £7, Lyme Regis Antiques and Craft Centre.
How to get the look
FASHION: Anything with a floral or plant design is on-trend! Palm leaves are particularly in favour. Wide leg trousers (so forgiving) and maxi skirts are awash with florals as it really suits the style. For chaps, a button-hole is an adorable touch. Also, 1950s vintage floral shirts can be rocked right now.
Etched jug and six glasses
This jug has delightful decorative qualities to it. To find a complete set like this deserves some clinking! £27.50, Lyme Regis Antiques and Craft Centre.
Building your own terrarium is a very pleasant and satisfying way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Search in our amazing array of antiques shops to find a glass container — you can get as quirky as you like!
Try unusual shaped containers and build your planting scheme around them. Then you just need a few essentials (gravel or pebbles, activated charcoal, soil and moss or succulents). Try Pinterest for succulent ideas.