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Hot pots: think of a container as the gorgeous frame to show off your plant--here are our picks from western designers.

MOST INNOVATIVE

This tiered Wedding Cake design from Potted is pure genius. Instead of sitting on an unsightly saucer, the two levels drain into a removable base so plants never rest in standing water. To get more bang for your buck, separate the pieces and use them independently; they're great for showing off simple plantings like succulents. $125; pottedstore.com

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PROBLEM-SOLVER WITH STYLE

After a family pet trampled some beloved plants, designers Max and Linda Geiser created the Wallter planter. Made of long-lasting spun aluminum, it comes as a 4-foot post (shown), a hanging planter, or wall-mounted pot. Ours are planted with rosemary, silver thyme, and mint. $92 each; wallter.com

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HANDMADE AT ITS BEST

The handcrafted Esther pot shows what happens when handmade ceramics rise above the grannyish rap and truly shine. Get it in beachy blue-green (shown with coppery 'Prairie Fire' carex grass) or white and earth-tone palettes. from $16 for a 2-inch pot ($55 as shown); estherstudios.com

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THE CLASSIC, REMADE

A reisssue of a vintage Bauer Pottery design, this glossy pot is part of the Home by Sunset Collection and has a simple aesthetic that lets plants do the talking. Here, dwarf mat rush makes up the grassy backbone, super-size rosettes of echeveria and aeonium fill in the center, and tiny clumps of sedum and senecio spill over the side. Biltmore from $150; bauerpottery.com Plant design: Jared Crawford, Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco; floragrubb.com

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UP YOUR GARDEN CONFIDENCE

Eugene, Oregon's Jayme Jenkins takes the scariness out of planting in her book Garden Rules: The Snappy Synopsis for the Modern Gardener (Cool Springs Press, 2011; $10), coauthored with Billie Brownell. Want the CliffsNotes? Here are her five beginner's mistakes to avoid:

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1 Thinking you're a failure because you killed a plant. All gardeners kill plants and often don't know why. "Peonies don't like me. That area must be too damp. Or too dry. Or too dark." The truth is, you may never figure out what happened. Just toss it in the compost and try something else.

2 Trying to tackle your whole yard all at once. Do so and you'll be sorry. The project will feel like a burden, not a pleasure. Instead, work on a small area at a time and build up your gardening skills. Then move on.

3 Overfeeding plants. Pour on the fertilizer and plants quickly pump out weak growth, which attracts insect pests. Plus excess fertilizer leaches into groundwater. Use the amount the label says--or less.

4 Planting perennials too close together. Remember, these won't stay the same size as they are in the container (really), and they'll be in your garden for a while. Read the plant tag, believe it, and space your plants accordingly.

5 Planting annuals too far apart. They're going to grow in your garden beds only for a season. You don't need to worry about crowding them. Instead of setting them out in skinny rows, pack them in for impact.

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Title Annotation:The West at its best
Publication:Sunset
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2011
Words:509
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