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Do you have a container, or two, filled with flowers or maybe a succulent? Chances are you do. Many of us settle for the bland shades of brown or beige when choosing pots and miss out on an excellent opportunity to add interest and color to our outdoor spaces.

I am a strong proponent ditching boring neutrals in favor of colorful pots with unique shapes and textures in my ongoing attempt to encourage people to think of plant containers as outdoor decor. As a result, I was thrilled with I was contacted by Annette Gutierrez, one of the authors of Potted: Make Your Own Stylish Garden Containers and asked to review her book.

Innertube from an old tire converted into a planter at the Tucson Botanical Garden.

Within the pages of Potted, Annette and her co-author, Mary Gray, inspire as they show the reader how to create unique and unusual containers that create instant interest.

During my garden travels, I seek everyday items that are reimagined and converted into unorthodox planters such as a recycled tire innertube. 

Annette and Mary refer to themselves as decorators rather than gardeners and own a store in Los Angeles, aptly named Potted where they create innovative receptacles for plants using everyday items such as cinderblock, PVC pipe, and even old wood doors to name but a few. 

If you have ever shopped for colorful or unique containers, you’ve undoubtedly experienced sticker shock at the high prices and settled for a boring, but sturdy terra-cotta pot. Over twenty container ideas await the reader, each of which, meet the following criteria:

  • It must be affordable
  • Materials must be easy to find
  • A good DIY project for the average person

I must admit that after finishing the book, I was looking at ordinary items like paint cans and plastic garbage pails in a different light – decorated and filled with plants.

**UPDATE: The giveaway is over, but you can always order your own copy of Potted.

Disclosure: I received a copy of ‘Potted’ free of charge for my honest review.

When trying to decide what to fill our containers with, most people gravitate toward colorful, flowering annuals.  For those of us who live in the Southwest, we are equally likely to fill our pots with cacti or succulents, which thrive in our dry climate.


However, did you know that plants aren’t the only thing that looks great in containers?  In fact, what many people would consider ‘trash’ can actually transform the look of a container and your outdoor space.



Dried plant material can add a unique and striking look to the landscape when showcased in a pot.

Besides decorating your outdoor space, they aren’t particular about sun, shade and are perfectly happy without any water or fertilizer.  

In this particular case, I had a lovely blue container in my front entry that had stood empty for longer than I would care to admit to.  The opening was too small for most plants and it sat in the shade for most of the day making it difficult to grow colorful annuals.


On a recent visit to a client whose home was surrounded by the natural desert, I found some dried plant material that would soon find its way to my house.
Among a pile of yard debris mixed in with cut tree branches and branch clippings were several dried yucca flowering stalks that had been pruned away and were waiting to be put in the trash.

Now most people would probably walk right by this pile of discarded plant material and understandably so.  But, I was on the lookout for items that the homeowner could use for a walled in patio, which was quite bare and received hot, reflected sun for most of the day.


My thought was to add colorful, glazed containers in order to bring welcome color to this space and fill them with cacti.


However, once I saw the dried yucca stalks, I decided that they would make a striking filler for a container.


The homeowner, who enjoys designing the interior of her home, saw the potential right away and selected three stalks.


The flowering stalks came from a magnificent soaptree yucca (Yucca elata) that they had growing in their front yard.


The homeowners graciously offered to give me a few of the stalks to take home.


I knew that my empty blue container would make the perfect home for dried yucca stalks.


While I love my new dried yucca stalks – they are just a few natural items that can be used in containers.


This large, dried flowering stalk from an agave would look fabulous in a container and displayed in the corner of an entry or patio.


Discarded canes from an ocotillo that would otherwise be headed toward the landfill can find new purpose as a filler for containers.


A saguaro skeleton would make a dramatic statement if ‘planted’ in a large container.


On my recommendation, this client gave up trying to grow flowering annuals in her shady entry and add colorful containers with bamboo poles.

Do you have a location where you’d like to have containers, but whatever you plant there dies?

Do any of the following situations where you’d like to have containers apply to you?

– Too much shade or sun
– Access to irrigation is limited
– You are gone for long lengths of time and can’t care for container plants
– Worried about staining the concrete or tile underneath the container from mineral buildup from watering
– You tend to kill anything you plant

If you are dealing with one or more these situations you may want to look at adding dried plant material to your containers for a unique and fuss-free look that will add beauty to your outdoor space.

This is my last post on unique containers.  To date, we have looked at containers on four, two and one wheels, one that fits on your feet as well as some ‘trashy’ ones as well.


Today, I’d like to show you two containers that you shouldn’t sit on.



I saw these two chair planters sitting in front of a gift shop in downtown Noblesville, Indiana.

The seat of these old chairs have been taken out and a planter, much like those you would use for hanging baskets were inserted into each empty seat.

This type of whimsical planting is fun and hopefully people won’t make the mistake of sitting them.  

Note that in dry climates, like Arizona and other desert climates – you can do this in the cooler months of winter and spring, but not in the summer.  The roots would literally ‘cook’ in the hot temperatures.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of my favorite unique containers that I have encountered on my travels.

I have found a unique container of my own on a recent trip to Minnesota that I can’t wait to plant in fall once the temperatures cool.  I’ll be sure to share it with you!

A couple of years ago, I visited a beautiful winery in upstate New York.


I must admit that I was more interested in the gardens that surrounded the winery than the wine itself.  


The gardens were filled with a variety of perennials and even a prickly pear cactus that thrived in despite the frigid winters.  


But, it was this unique planter that caught me eye…


These old boots were filled with hen & chicks succulents that sit amid flowering thyme.

I don’t know about you, but I have never thought of an old pair of shoes as a plant container.  I must admit that I really like it, how about you?

You can see more about my visit to this beautiful garden as well as other adventures in upstate New York, here.

As we continue along on our week long journey of unique containers, I thought that I would share with you one that is portable.


This old wheelbarrow makes a very useful container because you can move it easily to a shady or sunny area as needed.

This antique wheelbarrow is filled with marigolds and dianthus and was located along Route 66 in the historic downtown of Williams, AZ which is a place that we spend time every summer.

This stretch of Route 66 is filled with fun and quirky examples of Americana that I shared in an earlier post.

With any container, you need drainage holes, so you would have to add some to whatever unique container you decide to plant.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you a container that you may find yourself sitting on by accident.

Today, I have two different unique containers to show you and both are on two wheels.


This old bicycle was located in a place where bikes and horses are commonplace and cars are not.

I saw this unique container while visiting Mackinac Island earlier this summer.  The front basket was lined with moss and filled with geraniums and trailing ivy.  The side baskets were also planted too.

The bicycle was sitting in the front garden of a quaint house and I noticed that there was a hummingbird feeder on the handle.


This bicycle planter was located in front of a shop in the historic downtown area of Noblesville, Indiana, which is located just outside of Indianapolis.

When we were young, my sister had a pink bike much like this one while I had a purple one.

As you can see, I see many neat gardening ideas on my road trips.  You can read about my trip to Mackinac Island, here and my trip to Indiana, here.

Tomorrow, I will show you a portable container that has only one wheel and not two.

One of my favorite unique containers came in a most unexpected form…


Okay, what does an old, rusty pickup truck have to do with plants?


The bed of the pickup was filled with soil and potato plants.

Now, if that isn’t a unique container, then I don’t know what is.

I saw this bed of potatoes growing at the University of Tennessee garden last year.

I don’t think that the truck runs anymore, but it certainly functions as both garden art and a planter.

Tomorrow, I have two different unique planters to show you and both are planted on two wheels.

What kind of containers do you have planted in your garden?


Are they terra-cotta, glazed or plastic?  

Do you have any unique containers?

I like seeing plants that have been planted in unusual containers.  So this week, I will be sharing with you some of my favorites that I have seen on my travels throughout the United States.

Today’s unique container comes from Tennessee.


Have you ever seen a trash can used as a container for plants?

On a visit to the University of Tennessee Gardens, I visited their wonderful kitchen garden, which was filled with surprises and I came away inspired.

You can read more about my visit to these gardens and see some more pictures of these ‘trashy’ containers, here.

See you again tomorrow, when I’ll show you another unique planter that has 4 sets of tires.


Fall is here and nurseries are stocked with all sorts of cool-season annual flowers.

So, my question to you is, what will you plant your annual flowers in this fall?
Will you use a ‘regular’ container?


Or, maybe you are the type who likes to do things a little differently?

Maybe one of these unusual planters is more your style?

An old bicycle basket finds new purpose as a planter in Noblesville, Indiana.

Marigolds planted in an old wheelbarrow along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona.

Old pots and bowls used to plant miniature gardens in an antique store in upstate New York.

Old chairs transformed into planters in the historic downtown of Noblesville, Indiana.

A ‘bed’ of flowering bulbs in Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana.

An old bathtub serves as a large planter in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Galvanized metal bucket containers at an Amish swap meet.

I was fortunate enough to have seen all of these unique planters throughout my travels.  But, it was these galvanized bucket containers that inspired me to purchase an old antique watering can and create my own unique container for flowers…


 I found this rusty watering can in an antique store in Prescott, Arizona and I knew just where I would put it in my garden.

I added some holes on the bottom, and filled it with violas, lobelia and alyssum.   It sits right in the middle of my side vegetable garden where I can see it from my kitchen window.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the unusual planters from my travels.

**I would love to hear about any unique items that you have seen transformed into planters 🙂

I’m sure most of you know how much fun it can be to garden with your kids.  I remember my dad building each of us a raised planter where we could grow vegetables and flowers.  Today, my kids and I went to the store to buy flowers for their new garden.  You will NEVER guess what they are planting their flowers in 😉

Our first stop was our local nursery.  Each child was allowed to pick out 2 six-packs of flowers.  The kids decided to each pick a different type of flower and then share them with each other.  My youngest daughter selected geraniums and blue petunias.

My older daughter selected stock, (beautiful and fragrant despite its ordinary name) and white alyssum.


My son decided on dianthus and snapdragons.


We finished making our selections and then got ready to go home and start planting.  The only question the kids had was – where were they going to plant their flowers?  Well…..
 

How about their old kiddie pool?  You know, the ones that cost less then $10 and your kids have fun playing in during the summer.  When summer is over, most people either throw it out or store it somewhere out of the way.  Well, you can use it as a planter for either flowers or shallow-rooted vegetables or herbs.

First, move the pool where you want the garden to be as it will be too heavy once you fill it with potting mix.  Then make multiple holes on the bottom for drainage.  Then fill with a mixture of planting mix and compost.  Sprinkle some slow-release fertilizer and now begin planting! 


My youngest daughter planted the first plant, a peach-colored geranium.


My teenage daughter is overseeing our planting while texting on her phone.
 

We finished!  The kids are so excited to see their flowers grow.  The garden will be a riot of different colors and has no sense of design, which is as it should be for a children’s flower garden.

This will be our “before” picture.  We planted geraniums, stock, snapdragons, petunias, dianthus and alyssum.

If you would like to try this at home and you want the garden to become a somewhat more permanent part of the landscape, you can add a brick border or plant shrubs and perennials around the outside of the pool.

**Some of you may have noticed that my three youngest children do not look like me, (my two oldest daughters do).   We adopted our youngest children from China.  I call them my “Three Chinese Miracles”.