Container Gardens; Favorite Pots From Around the World

I’ve been thinking about the importance of pots lately. By pots, I really mean any container that is sufficient for holding a living plant and the soil needed to keep it alive.  Not only are the shapes, sizes and colors, of what we typically think of as a “pot”, endless, but there are so many other containers that can serve this purpose as well. They can often be little living worlds unto themselves but they also must relate to, and survive in, the environment around them.

Albright-Souza Tuscan Style Pot

Warm colored flowers pull together a Mediterranean feel for a client in sunny San Jose, California.

This past year I installed a group of pots for some beloved clients. This isn’t unusual of course, I often add pots as the final detail of a landscape design. But, I had originally been hired, by this lovely couple, to contribute to a master plan for their large, hillside, coastal property.

We spent almost a year re-designing and envisioning big changes to their existing landscape. But as a way to take a small, quick “bite” out of a long-term project, they had me re-vamp some existing planters on a small, but highly-visible deck. During this time, the gentleman’s health necessitated staying closer to home for longer and longer periods. He grew to love “puttering” out onto the deck to check out the planters multiple times a day and we all realized how important that small, accessible space had become.

Albright-Souza Ironstone Pot Group

A contemporary-rustic pot group harmonizes with cool color tones for a soothing affect for a busy Bay Area client.

So I suggested some additional pots to add greenery to the space and bring detail  higher, closer to eye level. Instead of the tightly edited original group of plants – the new plantings were chosen to have lots of interest and seasonal surprises. In order to stand up to daily scrutiny I combined colorful herbs and edibles with a mix of annuals and perennials. I even secretly added bulbs that would pop-up later, through the foliage.

Albright-Souza pot group color mix

Similar contemporary-rustic pots combine with a salt-finished companion and a wild color mix to create a different vibe for a different client.

I’m told that the new, more diverse plantings give daily pleasure and have really become “the garden” for this lovely couple, in spite of being surrounded by a large property.  – It’s a good reminder, that sometimes, a pot and a plant are more than that. Sometimes they can contain a whole little world.

Speaking of worlds….here are five of my favorite inspirational containers from around the globe;

Chile; Creative craft can be the imaginative use of a common material. I love the many possibilities of concrete, which in various forms has been used for centuries. The pattern and texture of a series of large municipal pots, along the main boulevard of Vina del Mar, in Chile, show the hand of the concrete craftsman and harmonize with the interesting pavement pattern on the sidewalk.    – Delicious seafood abounds in this lovely seaside city and the interesting adjacent town of Valparaiso.-

Albright-Souza Chile Concrete Planter

The hand of the craftsman is evident in these concrete pots in Chile. photo Joy Albright-Souza

Turkey; Repetition creates importance. I believe the containers I saw, used over and over again, in Turkey, were cooking oil cans and grain sacks. I love how they were used to create a living “hedge” of edibles (usually tomatoes and peppers) on the ancient stone terraces, of the fascinating town of Goreme, in the Cappadocia region. Many of the homes here are carved straight out of the soft stone cliffs and include a combination of cave-like rooms and spaces that were built with the stone that was excavated from the hill.     – Stay at one of the cave-residences turned Inns for a glimpse of a centuries-old way of life. –

Albright-Souza pots Turkish Terrace

Re-purposed containers create living hedges of edibles in central Turkey. photo Joy Albright-

South Africa; Color creates a curbside statement outside a Capetown restaurant, The Africa Cafe, that offers a sampling of the varied cuisine of South Africa. The restaurant also has a shop that sells local handicrafts and highlights the colorful ceramic work of local artists, like the type featured on the pots themselves, as well as other traditional art forms.    – Go, not just for the tasty foot, but for the wonderful music sung by the restaurant staff –

Albright-Souza Capetown South Africa ceramic pots

Colorful glazed pots highlight the work of local artisans in Capetown, South Africa. – photo Joy Albright-Souza


Thailand; Another example of containers that can create a garden where otherwise none would exist occurs in water-side residences. I was charmed by a collection of earthen pots outside of a traditional stilted Thai home on the island of Koh Kret, in the Chao Phraya River, near Bangkok. It’s not the individual pots, but the power of the grouping that brings color, personal style and maybe even a bit of safety, as they create a living railing along the wood planks.    – Visit this compact island to see the carved lanterns created from the local clay and sample the fried flowers sold from little carts near the ferry landing. –

Albright-Souza Thai Riverside Pots

Potted plants line the edge of a Thai waterside home. – photo Joy Albright-Souza


Laos; One of the most memorable pots I’ve seen in my travels shows the ultimate in re-purposing for a better use. I was fascinated by a green bomb casing, used for a potted plant, at the temple Wat That Chomsi in Laos. The simplicity of it’s placement at the top of a long flight of serpent stairs and the way the singular purple foliage pops out against the stark whitewashed wall really makes a design statement. I think the rest of the “statement” here…turning a thing of war into a thing of peace and beauty…is the perfect example of how a simple container can become so much more than the sum of its parts.   – Visit the Unesco world heritage site, of Luang Prabang, to see the incredible concentration of temples in this ancient and beautiful city.- –

Albright-Souza Laos Temple Casing

A bomb casing is re-purposed at a Laotian temple. – photo Joy Albright-Souza

A traditional pot or imaginative container, combined with even a single plant,  can bring color and joy to the hard places and tight corners of the world and just by it’s presence create a little garden. Go forth and plant a pot.

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Garden Inspiration, Places to See


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: