The auricula pots arrived this afternoon. The delivery driver warned us as he handed over the parcel that it might have some paint on it, as another parcel in the van had just burst. The box was done up with a great deal of gaffer tape, and I couldn't see any paint splashes, but opened it in the hall to be on the safe side.
The pots were individually wrapped in newspaper and nested inside each other in two rows, wedged in with a mixture of crumpled newspaper, lumps of polystyrene, and a short section of that plastic air filled sausage that mail order companies sometimes use. I had difficulty in separating two of the pots, and it wasn't a great surprise when I unwrapped the inner of the pair and found that it had broken lengthwise into three parts. It must have got too firmly wedged inside its fellow at some point during transit. Nesting pottery is a dodgy operation at the best of times, apt to end up with something getting cracked, and it would probably have been better to pad every pot with more paper and wedge them in individually. There would have been room, given the size of the box, and anyway the vendors could have used a bigger box.
Other than the breakage they were quite nice pots. Somewhat worn, and not a perfectly matching set, but I couldn't expect that when they were being sold as vintage reclaims. Some could have done with a scrub to remove a few lingering clinging roots and scraps of compost, but from the smell of disinfectant on my hands after I'd finished unpacking them I'd say they had been dunked in a bucket of Jeyes fluid or similar before dispatch.
Was I delighted? No. If the aim of mail order retailers should be to leave the customer surprised and delighted then this couple didn't quite make the grade. There again, they are semi amateurs, rescuing and recycling vintage terracotta on the side while also managing day jobs. Was I so disappointed I felt completely ripped off? No, not that either. They are quite reasonable pots, and will look better once I've given them a good scrub. Could I be bothered to complain about the broken one? Honestly, no. The Systems Administrator should be able to glue it back together again with builder's grade polyurethane foam glue, which should give a more durable result than my tube of Evostick. Would I use the suppliers again? Possibly, but not if I could find an alternative source of three inch long toms.
I don't understand why nobody seems to be making them. Whichford sell a small pot they describe as an auricula pot, but it has a rim and curved sides and lacks the simplicity of the old fashioned long tom. I have some miniature Whichford pots and use them for cyclamen, but they are not what I want for the reckless plants. They also have a range of small long toms, but even the smallest is slightly bigger than I want, and again they have curved sides, not straight. I have scoured the internet and keep an eye out in garden centres, and have never found a supplier of new, classic, straight-sided, rimless, miniature long tom pots. If I suddenly stumbled on a source I'd buy lots.