First brought to life by Portmeirion’s founding mother Susan Williams-Ellis, the Botanic Garden collection turns 50 this year. Largely untouched, it remains one of Portmeirion’s most in-demand assortments with an extensive range which has made it a collector’s dream. But the Botanic Garden story is ever-evolving, as Tableware International learns…

When Susan Williams-Ellis first imagined Botanic Garden, little did she know she had been inspired to create a collection which would, 50 years later, remain one of Portmeirion’s most recognised.

Botanic Garden has almost come full circle; with the revival of the cottage core aesthetic and grandmillenial chic, its understated but decidedly beautiful motifs are as popular now as when first drawn by Susan, a woman utterly enraptured by flowers, plants – botanicals in general. Ultimately, Portmeirion the brand was borne from a request by Susan’s father, the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis – the man behind the creation of the idyllic Portmeirion village in Wales. Sir Clough asked his daughter to create a range of ceramics for the gift shop at Portmeirion village. It proved so popular that Susan went on to buy two potteries in Stoke on Trent and in 1972, Botanic Garden came into being.

Susan Williams-Ellis first imagined Portmeirion’s Botanic Garden

With continued strong sales in territories such as the US, the UK and South Korea, Botanic Garden has somehow managed to transcend the zeitgeist, keeping its appeal despite its aesthetic largely remaining true to the original. Now, Botanic Garden celebrates 50 years of continuous production, it walks the line somewhere between retro chic and practical usability – a remarkable collection which is truly considered iconic.

“For us and our customers, the distinctive and instantly recognisable design makes it iconic,” says Gemma Copping, marketing director at Portmeirion Group. “Botanic Garden was ground-breaking for its time. In the early 1970s, it was unheard of to have a dinner set with different designs on each plate. Thankfully, founder Susan Williams-Ellis’s brave vision paid off, and the laurel leaf border which ties all the pieces together has become well known. The collection became a huge success when it launched and is still as popular as ever today.”

Despite Botanic Garden having garnered a reputation as being retro chic, it remains an innovative collection.

Gemma Copping, marketing director, Portmeirion Group

“What was quite a ground-breaking design with the idea of a different floral motif on each plate, is still quite unique and novel today,” expands Gemma. “The design has transcended the decades, and as trends such as cottage core have emerged, Botanic Garden has become a beautiful way to add a bit of English heritage and charm to the home.”

With the exception of a few select extensions such as 2019’s Botanic Garden Harmony and a bakeware capsule last year – the core design has remained unchanged.

“The laurel leaf border which features on every piece has become so iconic that it has become a statement,” Gemma explains. “Although some of the floral motifs have evolved over the years, we have kept the range distinctively Botanic Garden because there is still such a huge following and love for the design.”

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