Containing More Than Foliage

News flash! Pots no longer only serve as functional containers for plants. They have been transitioned into decorative landscape art and are being turned into fountains.


News flash! Pots are no longer being marketed as purely functional items to contain plants; they have transitioned into being labeled decorative landscape art and are also being turned into fountains.

“The latest tall square and cylindrical shapes are perfect to be made into ‘disappearing fountains’”, says John Tilley of Tilley’s Nurseries in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. “They are definitely a must-have item for 2007.”

Disappearing fountains, is the generic name being given for pots of all shapes and sizes that are turned into water features. This idea is growing in popularity and Tilley predicts that nurserymen countrywide are going to see this tranquil fountain form becoming a very trendy garden essential in the months ahead.

“They have huge appeal to people who don’t want to be bothered with plants and fish but still want to enjoy the sight and sound of running water. They are very easy to install, easy to chlorinate and treat to take care of mosquitoes and algae problems.

“I have found the best way to sell them is to set them up in various parts of the nursery in a lush, leafy setting. Customers always appreciate seeing how it can enhance an area. Any pot with a hole can be transformed into a water feature. We sell all the necessities like the pump and the disappearing basin that is installed below ground level.”

Tilley points out that sales in the more traditional terracotta type planters and containers are slowing down in favor of glazed and colored pots as the trend for tall pots in square and cylindrical shapes continues to grow. The latter have a strong decorative element and even without being planted up, can hold their own in any setting.

Brown pottery in either a matt or glazed finish as well as items in various shades of blue are still top of the color parade.

“They have been surprisingly popular especially the darker blue hues and we are definitely looking to expand out selection this year,” confirms Tilley.

A perennial problem all garden retailers face is how to display their huge stocks of pottery to make them appealing to customers.

“Very few customers have vision and often, when confronted with rows and rows of pots of different shapes and colors, have difficulty visualizing how it will look in their home setting,” says Nick Nguyen of the Good Hope Garden and Landscape Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“It’s really important to know your stock and to ask customers a lot of questions in order to narrow the field down for their final selection.”

There is definitively a growing trend for people treating pots as art works and use them in the home and garden as decorative accents. The Vietnamese tradition of filling them with rice and displaying them in a living area is becoming a popular interior design feature. Many of the modern designs also look very dramatic with a few piece of bamboo displayed either indoors or outdoors.

The trend of filling pots with water and floating candles and flowers is also becoming hugely popular. All these applications add up to more sales.

When it comes to indoor plants, the container is very much an integral part of the consumer’s plant selection.

“Indoor plants are bought to accessorize the home and need to meet the requirements of a specific look. So the container must not only fit into the interior design but compliment the plant too,” says Katie Weichert of Exotic Plants in Sacramento, California.

Houseplants are extremely trendy at the moment and this means that customers are becoming more discerning and seeking out planters that are unusual and possibly one of a kind.

Weichert agrees with Tilley that staging plants in stylish pots is very influential on sales.

“Indoor plants make popular gifts and customers appreciate being able to walk in to a store and choosing from a wonderful selection of plants in picture perfect containers. All they have to do is pay and go. They like that concept when they are buying for themselves too because often they don’t have the knowledge to put things together for themselves and time is always of the essence.”

Weichert points out that the current trend in many modern office interiors is to position pots that have the same design throughout but to mix colors that compliment one another. And to take it a step further, while there are still a lot of glazed pots being used, there is a strong move towards incorporating matt finishes especially when working with containers in strong earthy and rustic tones.

“Many of the containers that have strong Asian influences blend very well with many modern and contemporary interior design styles and consequently are hugely popular.”

Pottery features are an integral part of the overall finished look in many of the new housing developments being built all over the country and retailers countrywide agree that they are being used as focal points in landscape setting as well as to enhance pathways and entrances.

According to Weichert’s colleague Sherry Watson, when it comes to the artistic design and finding a particularly artistic piece, many customers are happy to pay top prices to have something specially designed and made for a specific application.

“We also stock a large selection of Gladding McBean architectural pottery. Discerning customers are definitely prepared to pay for quality.”

Michael Preston of Hyannis Country Garden in Cape Cod agrees and also confirms that on the other end of the scale, the market for relatively inexpensive and lightweight pots and containers made from fiberglass and other composite materials is flourishing. He predicts that as selections continue to grow and expand to emulate more of the more popular and contemporary designs, the trend is going to get even bigger in the months ahead.

“They are hot sellers because they are so convenient. They are easy to lift and transport and plant up. They are also perfect for balconies that aren’t built to withstand the weight of huge concrete pots with large trees and other plants.

“The range of colors they are available in is also growing. Currently the most popular are the earthy beige tones as they blend well into most interior and exterior settings.”

Preston points out that they are also suitable to be used for disappearing fountain features.

As retailers countrywide continue their pursuit for new and unusual designs, manufacturer and distributor Gina Lucas of The Pottery Patch International in Palm Beach, Florida is striving to meet their requests by designing and manufacturing collections of unusual containers.

“Our newest range features a wide variety of colors and shapes accented with inlaid stones around the rim. A range of glazed pots with a molten lava look has also sold well. In the coming months, we are hoping to expand our business from the East Coast to include states in the West and Northwest too.”

“There is no question that the pottery produced in various Asian countries in superior in quality to that produced being imported from Mexico,” says Lucas. “They are truly long lasting and can withstand all weather conditions, which is extremely important, as weather conditions vary so greatly throughout the country.”

She also confirms that pottery water features are here to stay.

“I also forecast that wall mounted water features made of wrought iron and ceramics and set in a wooden frame are going to be extremely popular when teamed with matching pots. This combination is the perfect feature for a tiny patio or a sunny courtyard.”


This article is from Water Garden News

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