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Choosing the Right Pot for Your Garden Spot

- Cast stone, terra cotta or maybe glazed. With the overwhelming range of container choices, selecting the perfect pot for that special place in your garden can be a real conundrum.

The wide choice of container materials and styles reflects changes in consumer expectations, as well as their desire to match specific styles with different parts of the home, both inside and out, according to Peter C. Cilio, creative director at Campania International. "As designers and manufacturers continue to innovate containers are available in an ever wider selection of materials, patinas and colors," he says.

Since choosing a container can be daunting, especially if you don't know what you're looking for, here is a "cheat sheet" to help you select the perfect container for your home or garden.

* Terra Cotta/Terra Nova (Price range $10 - $100)

Terra Cotta has been the classic material for a garden pot since ancient times. This porous material breathes and provides drainage for optimum growing conditions. Since it is a natural material, terra cotta containers will look good almost anywhere and with age will acquire a lovely patina. The porous nature of terra cotta, however, requires that extra care be taken in winter to protect the containers from freezing conditions.

While standard terra cotta flower pots are machine made, the best decorative containers are made by hand. The finest terra cotta containers are still hand made in Italy, but unfavorable exchange rates have made their cost prohibitive to many. Thankfully, Asian producers have adopted the traditional Italian methods and produce beautiful and affordable alternatives that rival, and sometimes surpass, their Italian counterparts. Available in both classic European and contemporary designs, Asian "terra nova" is the best and most affordable choice for terra cotta containers.

* Cast Stone (Price range $50-$250)

Like terra cotta in Europe, cast stone is the classic material for American decorative garden containers. Substantial and durable, these containers are created by pouring a cement/sand /stone mixture into a mold. The finished piece convincingly replicates the look of hand carved stone or marble at an affordable price. Cast stone containers are offered in a variety of styles and sizes, from exacting antique reproductions to sophisticated contemporary designs.

Look for cast stone pieces with well defined detail and a thin seam line (an inevitable result of the molding process). While more durable than terra cotta for cold climates, many manufacturers will suggest that cast stone containers are brought under cover in winter. However, if a pot has been correctly planted using adequate drainage material and if it is raised above the surface in winter with specially manufactured pot feet or small strips of wood so that it can freely drain, a properly made cast stone pot should survive many winters outdoors and acquire a lovely patina in the process.

Polyethylene/Fiberglass (Price range $30- $350)

For those seeking a lightweight alternative to traditional materials, polyethylene and fiberglass are excellent choices.

Look for high quality choices which convincingly replicate terra cotta, lead or weathered stone. With polyethylene, choose containers which are sun and temperature resistant. While these tend to be more expensive, they are a much better investment than cheaper alternatives which will shortly become brittle and crack when exposed to sun and temperature. Polyethylene is the perfect choice for those who want the look of terra cotta but wish to leave their planter outdoors in winter.

Like Polyethylene, Fiberglass containers also replicate the look of stone, iron or lead without the weight, making them appropriate for indoors and out. These are perfect planters for apartments, roof decks or any other situation where weight or maneuverability is an issue.

* Glazed Pottery (Price range $30-$300)

Color provides style and contrast, especially when positioned with other pieces, such as cast stone, or as a focal point nestled in a garden bed. From classic black and white to rich earth tones and bright lipstick glazes, the options are endless.

Glazed pottery is the perfect alternative when you're looking for more vibrant color than the softer tones of concrete, terra cotta or polyethylene can offer. Match containers to your home's color scheme or extend your indoor color scheme to your outdoor "rooms."

While the better quality glazed pots like Campania are frost resistant and can withstand winters outside, it is recommended that appropriate steps be taken to protect glazed pots in areas where winter freeze/thaw cycles are an issue.

* Cast Iron (Price range $100-$300)

Permanent like cast stone, except in the severest climate, these containers offer gardeners high strength and durability. A classic material for urn shapes, cast iron is especially appropriate for those who wish to create an historical or traditional look. For those with a more modern sensibility, cast iron containers are now also offered in sleek contemporary designs. These simple sculptural shapes bring new vitality to the category and create wonderful design opportunities for those seeking more usual pieces for their garden.

To learn more about Campania's full line of garden accessories, visit www.campaniainternational.com.

Courtesy of ARA Content


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