When we cleaned out my mother-in-law’s house a few years ago some of the things we found were planters from the early 1960’s. “I used to buy these for my mom for her birthday or Mother’s Day,” my husband said. “They had a plant in them and she kept them growing on the kitchen windowsill for years.”
This was sweet because my mother-in-law was not a “plant person.” For her to willingly keep dirt in her house was remarkable. The planters were, of course, kind of tacky by today’s taste. Bright green turtles, cute pink kittens and a white dove. Of course, we kept them anyway.
From a plant person’s point of view, what was important about these glazed containers was that they weren’t expensive and they appealed to non-plant people. They combined the plants with something that appealed to the general population.
I thought of this when I was at the TPIE trade show in Fort Lauderdale. At the Live Trends booth I saw a wide range of objects that combined plants with containers that were fun and imaginative. Some were larger, one-of-a-kind wooden forms created by craftspeople, and others were small figures or decorative containers that combined an entertaining object with a plant.
As a gardener, I might want larger plants and containers that will support plant growth for years to come. But I recognize that a good portion of the public do not define themselves as gardeners. Nevertheless, they want something green and growing. They are attracted to objects that combine an amusing container with a plant. And it’s a good thing that they have opportunities to buy them. Who knows…that person who picks up a cactus that’s planted with a succulent, or a figure with a Tillandsia for hair, might just find themselves hooked.
My husband is a plant lover. He and I fell in love in the midst of plants in Madison, Wisconsin, in the Botany Department’s greenhouses at UW and in the rhubarb patches growing in the farmlands surrounding the University. Maybe those dime-store planters he bought were the gateway drug that drew him in, and ultimately, to me.