Book Review: The Indoor Garden by Jade Murray and Pots by Harriet Rycroft

The Indoor Garden by Jade Murray

I do love house plants, but as I am sure I have previously written, I am not a good house plant owner.  Some plants I have had for years and others, well, others have less longevity.  When I was asked to review this new book from Jade Murray about indoor gardening I said yes as I knew I have much to learn.

I have not paid for this book and I have not been paid to write this review.  My words and opinions are my own.  Jade is a house plant enthusiast and won the Judges' Choice Gold Medal in the RHS #MyChelseaGarden competition in 2021 with her indoor garden.

I like any book that when I start reading it there is advice that absolutely chimes with my thoughts.  We all like being agreed with don't we?  So I immediately thought that Jade was on the right track when I read Jade's golden rules:  think about how much time you have to water seems like a simple rule, but 30 minutes into watering my house plants I don't have to wonder why I do not do it more frequently.  It takes time.  Which takes me to her golden rule number 2 - start with no more than three plants.  Yes!  Do not fill up every shelf so that you spread your care of your new babies before you know how much love and time your new babies will need.  Even the allegedly  'low maintenance' plants need care and attention.  The third golden rule: think about where your plants will be is also vital.  I try not to buy and work it out later but we all know that I do that all the time.  Thus set up we then boldly go into the rest of book feeling remarkably confident.  (There are seven golden rules in total but if I told you everything in the book you wouldn't need to buy the book).

Jade starts our journey into houseplant ownership with some 'Really easy indoor plants'.  Now I am the type that lifts the eyebrow at such claims but plant number one is the coleus which is one of the first houseplants I ever grew and is, I would say, easy.  We are shown several good plants in this category and if I have one tiny peeve it is that we are not told routinely the eventual size of a plant.  Jade does say that Monstera deliciosa will grow 'huge' but we are not really told how huge.  Of course it can be cut back and Jade does say this but a house plant that grows very big quite quickly can be daunting.

Jade then takes us through her chapters on Air purifying plants, humidity-loving plants, heat-tolerant plants, plants to help with pests and Diva Plants.  The Diva Plants chapter might be my favourite, because in my head this is the chapter that is 'don't even think about these plants unless you feel lucky' and at the same time 'you might as well have a go as actually you might just be lucky'.  Let's just say Tillandsia and leave it there.  Everyone loves an air plant, they should be dead easy and yet...... (not just me surely?)

This is a comprehensive book on owning houseplants.  The 'quick care' tips are excellent and tell you easily what you need to know.  We are told about the humidity needs of indoor plants, which is important as in our often 'centrally heated' homes.  The advice on pests is also vital.  There are few things as disheartening as checking in on your beloved new plant and finding it home to spider mites.  Jade also tells us how to propagate many of these plants.  Many are easy to propagate and we all love plants for free.

I really enjoyed this book.  It is easy to read and quickly tells you what you need to know.  The photography also by Jade shows us the beauty of the plants so much that I think it might also be a shopping list.  This is an excellent book for someone starting out with houseplants and for those who think they know what they are doing.

The Indoor Garden by Jade Murray is published by Pimpernel Press 

Pots by Harriet Rycroft

I have known Harriet for many years now, she was one of the first people I made friends with on Twitter many many moons ago.  At that time Harriet was the Head Gardener at Whichford Pottery and I used to go and visit, buy pots and admire the abundance and sheer joy of the container gardening there.  I think it reasonable to say that I would not have embarked on my Courtyard container garden without Harriet's inspiration so when I knew this book was being published I was very keen to review it.  I have not paid for this book nor have I been paid to write this review.  My words and opinions are as every my own but let's be clear, I am a fan of Harriet's work so I have some bias.

So, bias admitted I now I am going to try and put that to one side and tell you that after reading the book it is phenomenally good.  It is concise and comprehensive, Harriet goes through every aspect of container gardening you could think of and more beyond.  About where to position : will you have to move them if over a grate,  is it your land to put a pot on?  Can you move the pots safely without damaging your back?  have you got time to keep them watered and is there water near by and so on.

Harriet tells us why we should grow in pots, about how it enables you to grow where otherwise you could not, about how it can frame views and distract from ugly views.  How growing in pots can be good for a new garden owner and help those who may have just moved into a new built house.  There are many reasons why growing plants in pots is a good thing to do.  As with any plant you still have to position it in the right place and ensure it has the right growing media. 

Harriet talks us through planting up combinations of plants for seasonal displays and about growing single specimens in pots.  I often find people ask 'can I grow that in a pot?' and Harriet gives you confidence to know that the answer is generally yes.  You might not be able to grow it forever in a pot though with a big enough pot you can just keep moving upwards in size.  Harriet does tell us that size matters.  Smaller pots dry out faster.  Bigger pots give more opportunity to plant in combinations.  We are talked through terracotta, plastic, resin, concrete and all sorts of different pot materials.  There are the pluses and minuses for each.  I like that Harriet has a simple approach to old plastic pots same as I do, reusing and reusing until they finally cannot be used.  Harriet hides ugly plastic pots behind nicer pots in a display so that they cannot be seen.  Also planting into an old plastic pot that will lift out of a heavy ceramic pot can be really useful when needed as it saves the stress of heavy lifting.

At the end of the book is a fabulous directory of just some of the plants you might want to grow in containers, from trees to shrubs, perennials to annuals and everything in between.

This is a lovely book that completely met and surpassed my expectations.  I would have told you at any time that Harriet was the Queen of container gardening and this book has only confirmed this. 

Pots by Harriet Rycroft is a Bloom book for Frances Lincoln

Take care and be kind.

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