We have a varied selection of terracotta pots at Cliffe; hand thrown and moulded; egg cup to sapling size; rectangular seed pans and round planters. This collection is sadly ever decreasing; they are both ancient and modern, but mainly ancient and history is held within their rough clay. They are not treated as museum pieces, they are used as they were intended and are subject to the rigours of sharing a garden with a clumsy gardener and the elements. It is a mystery to me how these pots can be compared in virtue with their plastic facsimiles. Of course we use plastic, we are far from reaching saintly status, and have accumulated quite a collection and along with the rest of the universe are presented with the problem of how to dispose of these ever-increasing containers. I am not sure what goes on in the shelter at night but I am sure they reproduce, I am guessing by cell division. Aesthetically terracotta is in a different league, they do not pollute the environment either in their manufacture or in their disposal. They are organic and to my mind this allow the soil and plant roots to breathe, lessening the risk of stagnation. True, some that have been fired at lower temperatures may crack in the frost, but many of our pots are at least 30 years old and still going strong; the odd chip or crack but still functioning as a pot and a beautiful pot at that. Of course plastic also becomes brittle and snaps and cracks and in the beauty stakes comes a very poor second. These works of art can still be found in our plastic age, made by artisans and a worthy investment for any garden. So I am sorry, there is no contest. I am decided.