What are Cretan Terracotta Pots?
Cretan Terracotta refers to pots from Crete, the largest Island off the Greek coast.
The history of Cretan terracotta can be traced back to the Minoan civilisation, around 3000 BC. The Minoan's used large open neck pots (shown above) called Pithoi to store grains & liquids and to decorate Palaces.
Today, thousands of years later, the same pots can be recognised in private gardens and hotels around the UK - now housing Specimen Trees, Topiary, flowers, herbs... or simply standing gracefully as a feature.
How are they made?
The finest Cretan terracotta pots are hand-thrown on a potters wheel, a skill passed down from one generation to the next.
Large pots are shaped and worked in layers over multiple days. This ensures they do not fall-in on themselves
Once the newly thrown pots have dried, they are fired in a kiln for a total of 3 days.
On the first day the temperature slowly rises until it reaches an unbearable heat of around 1150 Celsius.
Over the second day this heat remains at a constant.
On the third day the kiln slowly cools back down.
Once the pots have cooled down they are soaked with water for a total of 2 days.
This is all part of the traditional process.
The end result of this lengthy process is a beautiful pot, frost-resistant and each different to the last i.e. a larger thumbprint here, a wavier line there....
It's no surprise Cretan terracotta pots are seen in the most prestigious gardens around the Country.
Why is Cretan Terracotta so good?
Each pot is a celebration of a skill passed down from one generation to the next. No nasty chemicals are used in the process and each pot should last a lifetime.
Arguably the key benefit is the fact they are frost-resistant to around -16 celsius. However, that's not to be interpreted as once the temperature reaches -16 every pot in the Country will suddenly shatter!
Ensuring your potted mixture is well-draining is key to your pots survival. Standing water will only freeze and expand, forcing pressure on the walls.
Plants thrive in Cretan terracotta because the walls are porous. This means that excess water can escape easier than conventional pots and vital air is able to feed through to the roots.
Lastly, the colour... On a Summers afternoon the warm glow given off Cretan terracotta from the Sun's rays is divine!