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Creative containers.

Tureens, crocks, and pipes can make handsome homes for plants

GARDENING IN containers is taking on a new sophistication that goes beyond conventional clay pots stuffed with marigolds. Now, innovative gardeners and designers are creating floral and foliage displays that direct as much attention to the containers as to the plants that go into them.

Although plenty of attractive containers are manufactured and sold specifically for use with plants, many other containers also work well. These two pages show a variety of unusual choices in different sizes, shapes, and materials that can be used to display plants.

But this is just a sample of striking kinds you might discover if you hunt around.


Designer Jean Manocchio of Belli Fiori in Redwood City, California, has used a variety of materials with great success. "I have an aversion to plastic, but I've tried just about everything else, including bronze, glass, naturally hollowed out rocks, a claw-foot bathtub, and even a birdhouse.

She hunts for containers everywhere--nurseries ("I always look in the dark, dusty corners for the unique pot that was pushed aside"), specialty pottery stores, antiques shops, and garage sales. "My greatest recent discoveries came from San Francisco's Chinatown: two beautiful pots that had been filled with kim chee (Korean pickled cabbage). The merchant sold both to me for $6."

San Francisco landscape architect Richard William Wogisch often makes containers from building materials, such as terra-cotta chimney pipes or flue liners, or culvert pipes like the ones shown at left.


According to Manocchio, the pots should enhance the plants that go in them. In the garden, a container full of plants becomes a focal point. And if it will be viewed from inside the house, Manocchio likes to coordinate it with the interior design.

For instance, if the interior is Asian, she might use an Asian pot planted with timber bamboo or a Japanese maple. For a Southwestern room, she might choose a Mexican clay urn or carved stone container.

Wogisch often uses containers to solve architectural problems. If the front entrance to a house has no planting areas, he'll add large containers that match the architecture, and fill them with plants. When designing the deck shown above left, he needed a transition where the stairs ended, so he added containers that complement the house's modern architecture.

Other tips from these designers: Don't use too many small containers--they're a maintenance nightmare. For a focal point, use one large container with a single dramatic plant. For bright, fussy plants, use plain pots. An ornate pot should contain a simple planting--a broad-leafed foliage plant, for example. If a container is made of low-fired clay, paint the inside with roofing compound or line it with heavy plastic (punch holes in the bottom).
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:flowerpots
Author:Swezey, Lauren Bonar
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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