Going to Pot

Ornamental and functional pottery has been a touchstone since early civilizations and the huge variety of imaginative designs available from around the world are still setting trends and encapsulating popular outdoor lifestyle decorating ideas.


Large glazed ceramic pots imported from Asia and ranging in height from three feet to six feet are definitely the current vogue,” says Rich Sacher, of American Aquatic Gardens in New Orleans, Louisiana.

They are being used as decorative accents in landscaped gardens as well as for creating focal points on high-rise balconies and patios.

“It’s also all about color, particularly the spectrum of blue-green shades,” says Sacher. “Cobalt blue with the glaze ‘dripping’ over the sides is currently top of the list. Tall pots are extremely versatile. They can be planted or used as cover pots. Many of the designs lend themselves to being purely decorative and look spectacular when used in pairs to flight an entrance to an outdoor area like a patio, a gazebo or a garden path.

“They also make great fountains standing on a deck surrounded by stones with the water bubbling over the edges or as a feature in a pond or water garden.”

Sacher adds that if a pot doesn’t have a hole, all it takes is a large masonry bit and lots of patience to convert it. Alternatively, pots with holes can just as easily be plugged closed with a rubber cork.

Consequently, the consumer can really select exactly what they want and adapt it to their personal application.

According to Tom Milton of Lotus International, in Athens, Georgia one of the country’s largest pottery producers, it’s up to manufacturers to recognize what could become a trend and get on the bandwagon.

He concurs with Sacher that there is growing popularity in small water features.

“There’s definitely a noticeable increase in the number of people looking to incorporate some kind of water feature into their outdoor living space. Everything sells from simple ceramic pots to contain water plants to several concrete spouted pots that together make a straightforward but effective water feature. Our aquatic water pots are glazed inside and out. While blue and green are strong water-related colors, rustic shades of brown and red that bring a touch of nature to an urban environment are equally popular.

“In recent years, orchids have become very fashionable plants grown both indoors and outdoors. Subsequently we have more than 30 different designs of orchid pots in numerous colors and sizes in our current catalog. This is a trend that’s definitely here to stay.”

Another popular look are Vietnamese black clay pots made from clay found on riverbeds. Once fired, the color turns to a rich brown with a finish that resembles eggshells.

“This clay is extremely hard,” says Joe Hurtubise of Arizona Pottery in Phoenix, Arizona. They are being sold from California to Connecticut but because they are both frost-proof and waterproof, they are particularly functional in areas of the country that suffer from long cold winters.”

According to Hurtubise, illuminated pots are also providing endless creative ways to accessorize exterior landscapes and patio areas.

The pots come in two sizes and seven funky colors including lime green, purple, turquoise and pink. They are lit with a LED light that never burns out and have a double wall, creating a false bottom that protects the electrical wiring from any water or soil saturation.

“They are multi functional,” explains Hurtubise. “Place half a dozen illuminated pots around the garden or the swimming pool and they immediately transform the area into a stylish layout that could appear in a glossy magazine. They work equally well to illuminate small areas, look wonderful with holiday trees and can also be filled with iced and used to chill drinks for a hot summer’s night party. Further, they make great outdoor tables by simply placing a piece of glass on top of the pot.”

Because current lifestyle trends are dictated by condensed living spaces, people living in apartments, condominiums and townhouses are viewing their minimal exterior areas as outside rooms and decorating them accordingly. This had led to a huge increase in container gardening and hassle free pot features that contain water lilies and other plants that like to keep their roots wet.

“There’s a market for everything that’s being manufactured. From poly resin to terra cotta pottery imported from Italy, Mexico and Thailand,” confirms Hurtubise.

High-grade poly resin containers are often utilized in public areas like malls and hotels. They look and feel like clay pots but are extremely durable eliminating concerns of them breaking and chipping. They are available in a variety of sizes from 60 inches down to eight inches in diameter and are available in over 40 different colors, making them a popular choice for personal decoration applications too.

Old standards like red clay pots remain good sellers and are inexpensively priced. Designs are as varied as a fertile imagination. However, round shapes still win hands down over square styled containers. While anything with a rustic look, no matter what the material composition, never goes out of style.

Although a lot of pots are imported from various Asian countries, many retailers say that a large percentage of their stock in made in the United States or brought in from neighboring Mexico. The market for individual hand thrown pots remains select and belongs mainly to consumers looking for very unique pieces.

When established nursery owners Rich and Kathy Hornbaker of Hornbaker Gardens in Princeton, Illinois decided top start importing pottery, they created a market-like environment to sell their wares by taking a section of their nursery and converting it into Pottery Alley.

Having the large selection of every shape, size, color and glaze imaginable standing side by side gives consumers the opportunity to look and compare before making their final selection.

Because most garden stores offer a huge selection of wares, retailers agree that everything has to be visibly displayed. People like to feel and touch and having the items at ground level makes it a pleasant shopping experience.


“People like to feel and touch the items,” says Greg Godwin of  Four Season Pottery in Atlanta,Georgia. “Sometimes placing larger pots at ground level furthers the shopping experience.”

The alternative to large displays is a more individual approach, where nurseries actually incorporate pottery pieces as planters fountains or simply for decoration into distinct settings.


“This gives shoppers an instant visual idea of what a particular item could look like in their own home environment,” explains Godwin.


“Also, because many people don’t have the confidence to buy a pot and plant it themselves, ready-to-go-items are always good sellers. Small planters, usually filled with annuals or one particular plant, are popular gift items throughout the year. ”

The alternative to large displays like Pottery Alley is a more individual approach whereby nurseries actually incorporate pottery pieces as planters, fountains or simply for decoration into distinct settings giving shoppers an instant visual idea of what a particular item could look like in their own home environment.

Some people don’t have the confidence to buy a pot and plant it themselves. Consequently, ready-to-go-items are always good sellers. While small planters usually filled with annuals or one particular plant, are popular gift items throughout the year.

Always looking for something different to give their business a personal touch, the Hornbakers recognized the popularity of folksy garden statuary like figures of children reading books and started looking to add what they called “folksy pots” to their selection.

“Any household item can in fact be considered a pot,” says Rich Hornbaker. Lately he’s been combing auctions houses and buying random pieces like cooking ware, and kettles and transforming them into decorative planters.

“This trend is definitely catching on. People are starting to look around their own homes to see what they have and if they’ve already discarded stuff, the chances are I will have picked up something that will appeal to them.”

Anther reason both manufacturers and retailers agree that the country is going to pot is that consumers don’t have to be an avid gardeners to enjoy the beauty of some well-placed pots whether they contain plants, have been converted into a water feature or are simply decorative. Once container gardens and hassle free water features are in place, they are easy to maintain. Hence their growing popularity with people who lead busy lives.


This article is from Water Garden News


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