New Pots, Old Twist
Roll up your sleeves...once you start, you won't want to stop making these enchanting little planters.
Text and photography by Amber Cook, Redmond Washington
All gardeners have their fantasies—and one of mine has always been to have a porch display of centuries-old stone garden pots. But antiques like that are hard, if not impossible, to find. And they certainly won't fit my garden budget. So, I decided to make my own. They're almost as good as the real thing. Plus, because they're small, a grouping makes a tiny gardening space seem a lot bigger. And the real appeal is that they emulate the rich past of the original stone pots.
The first stone pots were made of volcanic rock that can be traced all the way back to 12th-century Europe. This rock—cut into blocks by early stone carvers—was used to build French castles, Italian villas, and sinks and troughs for cottages throughout the European countryside. In the early 1900s, resourceful English gardeners discovered these abandoned old basins made perfect planters. As the limited supply was depleted, the Brits created their own stone pots...and that's where our project begins! You may want to get creative and add a few personal touches, too. Here are some ideas:
Weather it: Once dry, brush the edges of your pots for a more realistic aged-stone appearance. For best results, use a wire brush held at an angle. This deepens the cracks, folds and shadows that are already there.
Brighten with color: As you're mixing the cement, add a small amount of cement color additive. I like the soft pastel-pink look.
Decorate with moss: Cut moss into small pieces and blend or beat into buttermilk. Pat the moss mix over the outside of the planter, set it aside and watch the moss grow in 2 to 3 weeks.
Of course, one of the best ways to distinguish your patio pots is deciding what to plant in them. Select plants that do well in shallow soil. From there, you'll have an instant classic!
What You Need:
- 24" x 24" board
- 24" x 24" plastic sheet (medium weight)
- Peat moss
- Portland cement
- Wearing rubber gloves, mix two parts peat moss with one part pearlite in a plastic tub. Add one part portland cement and mix with water until the consistency resembles cottage cheese.
- Create a pile of wet sand (about as much as you can hold in your cupped hands) and place it on top of your board. Pat sand into a smooth mound. Cover mound with the plastic sheet. Scoop the cement mixture on and around the covered sand pile and pat into your container's shape. The mix should be 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick.
- Gather the plastic sheet in one hand and pat the mix from the outside to shape the pot. Gently tilt the pot away from the board and pack wet sand under the edges. Unfold the plastic, flatten a small area on the bottom of the pot, and add drainage holes with a stick or your finger.
- Let your pot dry on the board for 2 to 3 days. Then, brush away the sand, peel back the plastic...your pot's a masterpiece!