Shopping with Le Flaneur

  • Post published:04/17/2010
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The weather is wretched here today. No need to pretend, and I go window shopping with Le Flaneur.

Pretend the weather is impossible and while away some time perusing these sites – no need to buy a thing, but it’s always beneficial to have a notion of just where you might find something when the need arises:

Seibert-Rice offers a vast and expensive array of pots. What appeals is the robustness and visual strength of their designs. Pot rims are hefty, voluptuous and molded in ways reminiscent of architectural cornices. The various designs possess a boldness of expression that transports them beyond the realm of “pretty” or “decorative” in the pejorative sense. They offer both new and antique pots, this antique olive oil jar – now a vase – is from Castello di Uzzano, Greve-in-Chianti (circa 1863). Now this is a cachepot with cachet – a pot with pedigree. I find myself wondering about the gigantic man-made hill in Rome, now off limits to visitors (and collectors), created millennia ago from millions and millions of discarded wine and oil amphorae and now waiting – the garden container mother lode.

One site, operating a dwarf Google (the search engine, not a plant) is Garden Gate It’s a terrific place to begin a search for the perfect antique urn, planter or garden device.

One of many basic and reasonable sources for planters in metal, terra cotta and resin/fiberglass, one web site,,strikes me as fairly-priced and broad in their selection, but the offerings are such that you might be lucky and find something at your local big box hardware and home store – saving time and shipping costs. My luck with Home Depot, however, has been dismal. Because of the seasonal aspect I invariably am too late to find that perfect pot in the size I need. Planters I’ve bought there have been purchased as compromises – never the happiest of solutions. On the other hand I was spectacularly fortunate to find a half-dozen large, tall terracotta pots at IKEA that have served brilliantly on stone steps, their vertical lines contrasting with the horizontal lines of a small mid-century modern house. That the pots have acquired a patina of moss (or perhaps it’s just slime) and substantial efflorescence that add to their appeal. This site covers the fundamentals in terms of its offering of shapes, sizes and materials.

Whichford Pottery [ carry a full range of terracotta garden containers, with an emphasis on traditional forms suitable in size and shape for almost any need. Their categories include basket flowerpots, large-and-lavish, pots of substance, the kitchen garden, the ornamental garden, truly tradition, ideal for every gardener and making the most of smaller gardens. Their offerings are indeed lovely.

Guy Wolff full pots

America’s botanical gardens can always use support, so one might wish to select containers offered by the New York Botanical Garden. Their pots are gently flared, and aged with a pleasing patina. The NYBG carry Guy Wolff pottery as well as a large selection of equally handsome pots (many with the patina of history) reflecting a more Italian of at least sunnier disposition.:

Whether one selects from these ranges or not, it is well worth spending some time contemplating the proportions and the elegant understatement. After all, the point is not to collect pots (well, perhaps it is) but to provide a setting for one’s plants and flowers. And here it should be pointed out that an ever-useful analogy might be the relationship or balance between a diamond and its setting. One should never be confused about which is which, and rest assured, when a newly engaged beauty shows you her ring, she is not expecting you to focus upon its setting.

Finally, there are those two bookend bastions of contemporary cost-conscious consumption, IKEA and Costco. IKEA offers an ever-changing selection of containers, and with imagination a number of their products can be transformed into plant containers, too. Costco, online, also offers planters and their prices include shipping.

Urn Cache – in your spare time!

With Pat’s assistance, I’ll be posting from time to time briefer items dedicated to a single intriguing pot/jar/container find. In the meantime, one last suggestion for those fortunate enough to live in the West County (Massachusetts): Shelburne Farm & Garden (413-625-6650), 355 Mohawk Trail, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370. For years I’ve happily bought pots from proprietor Pat Schmidt’s large and pleasing selection. The bonus, of course, is that she also carries a vast array of everything to put in those pots, beginning with topsoil and ending with attractive plants that have proven idiot-proof.

-Flaneur du Pays

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