ABBIE ZABAR’S NEWEST ORCHID POT DESIGNED FOR SEIBERT & RICE

LARGE SPECIMEN ORCHIDS SUCH AS THIS CATTLEYA ‘KATHLEEN CLARK’ ‘CARMENITA’ REQUIRE A GOOD, HEAVY CLAY ORCHID POT – AND THIS JUST RELEASED ORCHID POT DESIGNED BY ABBIE ZABAR AND MANUFACTURED IN ITALY BY SEIBERT & RICE IS THE PERFECT CHOICE.

You may be surprised to learn that all terracotta is not created the same. Even as a potter myself, I assumed that terra-cotta was simply soft, red clay which when fired, would chip easily like those inexpensive tourist plates one gets in Mexico – but I was so wrong, for in the world of clay and pottery, not all terra-cotta is created the same. For example, this past summer, I learned much about terra-cotta, it’s many times based on region and chemical composition, it can be soft and fragile when fired, or hard and as solid as stoneware – most importantly, I learned that the finest terracotta in the world comes from a small village tucked deep in the Tuscan hills, just a few miles from Florence, Italy – Impruneta, the village and the clay which shares the same name, is world renown.

This new orchid pot designed by Abbie Zabar combines design excellence with horticultural knowledge – I so appreciate pots which are designed by these cross-over artists – those who combine their skills of form and design with that of horticultural expertise and experience in growing plants. The result here is a pot of heft and volume, worthy of a tall rare dendrobium or a cascading species while at the same time, attractive and scientific in appearance. It will make a practical statement in an estate greenhouse, or in a collection displayed in a botanic garden conservatory or on a rooftop garden in New York City (where the designer actually lives and gardens), where a pot this heavy makes all the sense in the world – especially when the winds gust. It’s practical, beautiful and a statement.

AN IMPRESSIVE POT, THIS ONE IS HEAVY AND THICK WITH LARGE AIR HOLES, ESPECIALLY IN THE BASE WHICH MAKES THIS POT PERFECT FOR SO MANY EPIPHYTIC ORCHIDS

So here’s the story behind this pot showed up on my doorstep thanks to Sievert & Rice, who sent me one to test, but I had already planned to buy a couple after seeing it in person.

New York artist, designer and author Abbie Zabar is a good friend of mine. She designed this pot, just released by Seibert and Rice, who make fine garden pottery in Italy (and really, few can compare with their quality and provenance – those who know about such things, already know about them). Yes, these pots are expensive, and perhaps not for everybody – but if you are one who cares about design, quality and plants, this may be the perfect pot to add to your collection. They are available at finer horticultural stockiest’s — such as the New York Botanical Garden gift shop.

Abbie was actually careful about asking me if I might write about this pot, as she knows that I sometimes find it difficult to write about my friends projects, be they books, products or pots – (believe me, I get about 5 -10 requests a day via email to pitch something on this blog), and to be honest, I was a bit noncommittal about reviewing this pot at first – that is, until I felt one in my hands. Really. One touch and I changed my mind.

This past February, while Joe were in New York City we visited Abbie We met Abbie at her [ kind-of amazing] penthouse (where you enter through a roof-top garden – I needn’t say more). We needed to warm up a bit before going to brunch – so as wet were snooping through her library of gardening books, I spotted a trio of these new pots – just sitting on a table in that bright, February sunshine.

“Abbie….Are these your new pots?” I asked.

I picked one up carefully, thinking that it might be fragile – but it was so heavy and solid. Thicker than I imagined and hard, with a ‘ring’ to it when tapped – At that moment, I knew that this was no ordinary pot, so I agreed to write about it, and honestly – as sometimes, we bloggers do get things for free to write nice things about, but I really don’t like doing that. I really did, and do, like this pot.

Abbie had a nice white phalaenopsis planted in it, which makes sense as I would say that this pot is the right depth and scale for a large phalaenopsis, and undoubtedly many people will use this pot for their collections of this now common florist plant, but I have to say that this pot deserves to be in the serious orchid growers collections with more interesting species planted in it, as it is functional in ways few orchid pots are – massive drainage holes for one, and a good weight. Unglazed and porous, this may not be the best orchid plant for the one who wants a decorative plant, unless you use a tray with gravel in it, but this is a pot that orchids will enjoy, as it is clearly designed for plants, first and foremost this is a working orchid container. Dare I say – form follows function.

ABBIE’S NEW POTS WERE MUCH LARGER THAN I IMAGINED THAT THEY WOULD BE.

Visually, this pot feels timeless. I am convinced that once it is mossy and covered in roots, one would be challenged to know if this pot is 200 years old or contemporary. It’s larger than normal drainage holes make it feels very serious indeed, yet its symmetrical design hints that either a star architect or top designer had their hand at it (in many ways, one did).

Now – why would one need a frost-resistant orchid pot? As serious orchid growers know, many cool and cold orchid species like to stay out to get nipped by frost – many cymbidiums, large and unwieldy ones that will appreciate a heavy pot, but also many orchids that appreciate a good nip of frost – Neofinetia, some dendrobiums and even calanthe would do well in this pot.

Because of its heft, I am using this pot for a warmer more tropical orchid – a beast of a specimen plant – which I ordered from the nice folks at Santa Barbara Orchid Estate in Santa Barbara, CA. because, as I explained to Abbie – If I was going to write about this pot, I wanted to find just the perfect specimen orchid plant to feature in it – to do it justice, if you will. No white phaleaonopsis for me!

A few more words about the artist, Abbie Zabar

Packed with ‘Abbie’ style, she is feisty, bright and talented in so many ways – as an artist, a designer and and author, she is a noted authority on the art and culture of topiary (author of the 1988 classic book The Potted Herb a must-have book for every herb and topiary lover which is out of print, but worth tracking down on-line), as well as an acclaimed artist – this summer, her most recent project will be showcased in a noteworthy solo exhibit at Wave Hill. Her series Flowers in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be featured in this solo exhibition at Wave Hill – Abbie Zabar: Ten Years of Flowers from June 7 until October 4 at Wave Hill House.

About Imprunta Clay

As for the choice of Impruneta clay – it is the medium of choice for Seibert & Rice, and Impruneta clay has been used in ancient vessels and sculptures, found in the worlds finest museums where curaters and historians have dated its use back to the Estruscan villages – that would be way back to the 1300’s. Few materials have proven themselves over such a long period in history – but along with marble, alabaster and other artisan materials, time and quality wins out. For people who know and appreciate fine things, few clays are nicer than that which comes from Impruneta.

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