Hode large Long Tom
Nigel and Mary Chapman have been hand-throwing stoneware pots for years, working from their village home near Canterbury in what is very much a cottage industry operation. The hand-throwing ensures each pot is individual, but it’s the design that gives them their idiosyncratic charm; the long tom shape is beautifully exaggerated to form a sharp taper to the base. The stoneware clay makes these pots incredibly tough and capable of withstanding penetrating frosts, gives them a mellow colour like butter shortbread, and a finished pot that rings like a bell when struck.
61cm x 48cm, £330
Atelier Vierkant UF160
Atelier Vierkant produces a range of high-end, handmade clay pots from its base in Belgium. Suitable for a variety of applications they are especially at home in designed spaces where architectural elements are pronounced, such as courtyards, poolsides and roof terraces. The unromantically named UF160 is a behemoth, weighing more than 400kg and standing 160cm high (expect the planted weight to increase to 600kg or more) with a voluptuous profile. The asymmetric clay bands around the circumference of the pot create an interplay of light and shade and help balance the full body.
160cm x 96cm, €8,900
Antique Cretan Pot
You can’t fake the patina that comes with ancient terracotta, and this large three-handled Koroni pot comes complete with the original limewash that was applied to reflect the heat and preserve the olive oil stored within. This is not the sort of thing you would want to fill with compost and plant with Pelargoniums – although a good quality pot liner could be used if you wanted to fill with a standard olive tree, for example. But perhaps it’s better to enjoy the shape and texture of the pot – as a focal point in a seating area or terminating a vista – without the distraction of plants.
110cm x 80cm, £1,850
Bronzino Ocean range
Scottish artist-designer Kenneth Topp is the man behind Bronzino, a range of containers handmade from recycled copper and zinc. Topp draws on traditional designs and techniques, as is the case with the Ocean range. These containers work especially well as a group in the two finishes of tin-plated copper and grey copper. There’s also a rather playful spiny urchin with a set of additional copper spikes set around the aperture. The pots are made to order with a 10-week lead time.
Urchin: 60cm x 38cm, £540
Neptune: 70cm x 65cm, £1,058
Nautilus: 55cm x 80cm, £885
Anemone: 55cm x 75cm, £995
Using mixed materials to make garden planters doesn’t always end well, but the Cachepot planter’s blend of real teak and white synthetic rattan – a material that won’t fade or rot in sunlight or from weathering – seems to work. Made in Smania, Italy, they have clean modernist lines that would suit a roof terrace or balcony, or anywhere where sun is in abundance; the blend of materials and modernist styling is likely to be less successful under leaden skies and drizzle.
Small: 40cm x 40cm x 95cm, £700
Medium: 40cm x 40cm x 120cm, £790
Large: 40cm x 40cm x 160cm, £885
The Garden Trellis Co is a garden joinery specialist, producing from its Essex workshops pretty much anything and everything timber-based and garden-related. Its traditional planters lack the adornment of caisses Versailles (which they also manufacture) having an elegant simplicity to the line. The workshop can produce these and anything else in the range to any colour – or in hardwood finishes simply left to weather – and can customise with the addition of a trellis backing to enable climbing plants to be trained. The planters come with a fibreglass liner to ensure a long life. Garden Trellis Co also offers a bespoke service.
120cm x 42.5cm x 40cm, £830
Languedoc Lion Vieilli Versailles pot
These large, heavy urns and vases are made using terracotta clay taken from the hills in the Cevennes, hand-pressed into large plaster moulds taken from original 17th and 18th-century pots that can still find be found in château gardens or museums in the south of France. Traditional glazed pots from Anduze are fired to more than 1,000C and then slowly cooled to form a hard-wearing finish with great depth to the glaze. Typically the finished pot would be planted with an olive or orange tree, and removed to a sheltered place in winter to protect both plant and pot; they are not fully frost-proof.
85cm x 75cm, €694
El Cazaar pot
The Third Nature specialises in pots made from wet cast concrete, a material that can result in elegant and highly tactile finished products and can be manipulated with additional pigmentation to produce pots from subtle hues to primary colours. It’s an incredibly resilient material too, frost proof to at least -10C and UV stable. The El Cazaar is a stylish, low-slung pot, the shape recalling the modernist movement. It is ideal for planting with alpines, succulents or a gnarly bonsai or Pinus mugo.
80cm x 20cm x 14cm, £170
Lunaform of Maine produces pots using a unique process, applying concrete by hand to a steel frame, which is turned on a wheel like a traditional clay pot. The steel frame gives the pot incredible strength, enabling really big pieces to be made, and as no formers or casts are used there are no visible seams on the outside. The piece is then finished with the application of a liquid metallic coating in copper, bronze or brass. The Ebro, here in XL form, is huge, a great feature piece in the landscape with the line of an ancient Chinese dynasty pot.
47.5” x 35” (25” at the mouth), $3,450
Matthew Wilson is the managing director of Clifton Nurseries