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Pretty Floral Portmeirion Indoor Ceramic Plant Pot with Pink Cyclamen Plant against a Pink Background

If your mum is anything like ours, she will have some Portmeirion that you rarely see because it is being kept for when the Queen pops round for tea… If that’s the case, now might be the time to convince your mum to dust it off as Portmeirion is making a comeback and their plant pots in particular are increasingly in demand!


Portmeirion Potteries was started in 1960 by artist, author and entrepreneur Susan Williams-Ellis. Williams-Ellis first got involved in pottery when she started designing pots for sale in the small gift shop in the iconic village of Portmeirion in North Wales. Wanting more control over the production, she and her husband then bought two declining pottery companies and (despite knowing very little about producing ceramics or managing a factory) went onto to transform them into one of the country's most successful pottery businesses.

Their first big hit was an abstract relief-moulded range called ‘Totem’ produced in 1963. It was a design which would come to symbolise the sixties - along with the lava lamp and G-Plan Furniture.


With 'Totem' Williams-Ellis combined the Portmerion trademark modern cylindrical shape with raised relief patterns derived from Native American cultural art to create a distinctive range of bowls, plates and coffee-sets. This combination of a highly modern shape and a pattern from  traditional culture proved incredibly commercially successful. 

Dark Green Glazed Portmeirion Cups and Plates with Totem Pattern against Yellow Background

Photo by @chappy_vintage

Vintage Pink Floral Portmeirion Ceramic Plate against Pink Background

But Williams-Ellis didn't stop there. She went onto create some of the most distinctive home ceramic designs of the 20th Century.


Arguably the most popular was (and still is) the 'Botanic Garden' range decorated with a huge variety of floral illustrations. These images were adapted from a book Williams-Ellis found in an antiquarian bookshop in London: Thomas Green’s ‘Universal, Herbal or Botanical Medical and Agricultural Dictionary’.

It is not a surprise that this range was and continues to be so popular. The shape of the pieces are solid and tactile, they feel homely but also special enough for any occasion. The illustrations are beautiful and a must-have for any nature lover.


A testament to its success,  the 'Botanic Garden' range still accounts for half Portmeirion’s profits today.


The plant pots still feel modern half a century after they were launched and come in a variety of useful sizes - they also look fab grouped together! They are truly a plant lovers plant pot.

White Cylindrical Ceramic Indoor Plant Pot with floral Iris decoration on a white tiled surface with a sanseviera succulent
White cylindrical vintage ceramic indoor plant pot with bird design against blue wallpaper with leafy succulent

At Queens of Green Design, we're also big fans of the Portmeirion 'Birds of Britain' range, these pieces are decorated with illustrations taken from the book ‘Natural History of British Birds’ by E Donovan.


The 'Birds of Britain' range launched in 1977 and was initially only available through John Lewis in the UK and Bitossi in Italy. The range was incredibly popular in the US and Europe but strangely didn’t quite capture the imagination of the UK.


Susan Williams-Ellis never understood why this range wasn’t as popular as the 'Botanic Garden' Range and neither do we - the birds are beautifully illustrated and a bit more unusual than the floral range and they seem to be growing in popularity as a new generation discovers it.


As with lots of tableware, Portmeirion fell out of fashion as we became more casual about our eating habits and setting the table became less important; the floral and bird designs were seen as too fussy and traditional in an era of minimalism. 


However recently there has been a resurgence in the popularity of Portmeirion – perhaps during the pandemic we had more time to set the table and think about the tableware. The rise of maximalism has seen people look again at the pots with their beautifully detailed illustrations. Also, for some Portmeirion may offer a dose of fond nostalgia - reminding us of happy family occasions.

Floral vintage Portmeirion plant pot with floral decoration against a colourful striped wall mural

We can totally see why Portmeirion is back in vogue – the quality, modern shapes and clean lines fit well in our homes bringing just a hint of retro magic. On a practical note, the sizes are well thought out and the quality means pieces last well. So for some timeless style add some Portmeirion to your home! 

White ceramic indoor plant pot by Portmeirion with floral design with Boston Fern Houseplant in a white tiled bathroom
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