Cretan Delights: Colourful Containers Fresh from the Med

Gorgeous Greece Opener1 - beautiful buildings by  Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Blog

Apologies for the brief interlude there – it’s been a rather busy month at Stylist HQ, with several magazine shopping features to get in the bag in time for the Summer months, a little holibob over to Crete, and an unbearably exciting, top-secret project which I will reveal as soon as I’m allowed! The next couple of months don’t promise much let-up, but I’ll pop back soon.

But back to the holibob. So after the disastrous non-holiday of 2012 (four days before we were due to depart I managed to smash my elbow to bits, meaning I spent the day we were meant to fly out lying at home on the sofa in a post-operative, codeine-induced stupor) I almost couldn’t allow myself to look forward to this one (needless to say, I turned down an offer of a Roller Disco the week prior). Luckily the boyf, who booked the whole thing, sorted us out a bit of a blinder, getting us a very cheeky little deal on the stunning Blue Palace resort in Elounda, north-eastern Crete (thanks, Travel Zoo!) Having never stayed anywhere particularly posh before, this was a right ol’ treat for my thankfully-recovered yet world-weary arm, and other limbs. A week of having three courses at breakfast alone (including olives and cake, obvs) can somewhat give a girl a taste for the finer things.

Gorgeous Greece Opener2 - beautiful buildings by  Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Blog

But fear not, I haven’t lost my love for crumbly, tumbledown, ramshackle interiors. Or more specifically for this post, exteriors. As it’s been winter in the UK for approximately ten months now (though the sun does appear to have finally put his hat on today – hurrah!) and as I’m still looking for ways to tart up our garden on a budget of approximately 50p, I found myself increasingly drawn to all the glorious flora and fauna dotted all around the Island. With a climate as fabulous as this, who wouldn’t want to cover every available outdoor area with a riot of plants and flowers? And no one quite does breezy, just-throw-together casual outdoor arrangements quite like the Greeks in my book. From cheap and cheerful gerberas exploding out of old urns to mismatched pots crammed together, leaves a-mingling, threatening to topple off a sugar-cube-house windowsill, it’s an achingly charming, utterly achievable look to recreate at home. If it ever turns into Summer and you possess a pair of green fingers, that is.

Well my fingers are far from green but as my Concrete Jungle garden contains zero planting space, I’m going all-out for container gardening – here are a few things I’m hoping to try out back in balmy east London:

Rustic style pots1 - by  Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Blog

Rustic style pots2 - by  Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Blog

Rustic Style: An organic, eclectic mixture of vessels look simply stunning when grouped together en masse. Adding levels, like these wooden steps and tree-stump-turned-pot-stand, is a great way to both create height for added interest and make the most of limited floor space. A wholly achievable look for making a mish-mash of individual pots all work together.

Painted pots - by  Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Blog

Painted Pots: Always a classic way to add a dash of colour, especially over in old Blighty for those months when everything’s 50 shades of blah. Whilst old terracotta pots are a lovely little rustic treat just as they are, their mass-produced brand-new counterparts leave a little more to be desired and are a perfect candidate for whipping out the brushes.

Having fake-painted pots numerous times for shoots and events with little consideration to them actually lasting the test of time, I’ve given this one a bit of a Google: the general consensus seems to be that both artist’s acrylic paints and normal water-based emulsion are the best candidates for the job. There are various should-you, shouldn’t-you varnishing debates, however – as the terracotta is porous by nature, you don’t want moisture running through it and causing the paint to peel, but at the same time you don’t want to ‘trap’ the moisture either. The best bet seems to be to coat the inside of the pot with some slightly diluted PVA glue beforehand – or just go for it and paint it as is, and accept that it may well all flake off in a year or two (by which point your chosen colours will presumably be so last-season anyway that you may well be grateful for the enforced update…)

Recycled tin pots - by  Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Blog

Recycled Tins: Whilst I’ve seen the classic upcyclers’ tin-as-planter many a time, I don’t believe I’ve ever actually seen one painted before – and this is a super-fab idea. Hammerite’s the guy you want for this job, and they’ve just launched 26 new colours, too. I love the idea of going two-tone with this, and maybe even adding a strip of masking tape randomly across the tin before painting, to peel it off and reveal a hint of the original design. Time to start stalking the local Indian for leftover cooking oil tins…

Beautiful Blooms1 - by  Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Blog Beautiful Blooms2 - by  Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Blog

I’m also keen to try covering some of my plastic planters, which the Greeks also seemed to just liberally splash with emulsion but in reality I think some Plastikote spraypaint is probably your best bet. I’ll be giving this one a go soon now I’ve semi-organised the shed and can actually reach my spraypaint section.

I’ll be back soon with more Grecian snaps, but to end, a familiar scene throughout the holiday: the slightly-irritated-boyfriend-on-step-waiting-for-partner-to-finish-instagramming.

Toodle-pip for now!

{Images: all copyright Joanna Thornhill}

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About Joanna Thornhill/Stylist's Own

Freelance Interior Stylist, Author, Writer and Crafter working for a range of magazine titles and commercial clients. Author of Home for Now (CICO Books 2014)

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