a pots post

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to talk about pots. You may remember me from such posts as “The Drop-In”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically pensive pose.
All the coverings for the couch, including the blankets, were washed today, so they’re pleasant to recline on.

The day began strangely. The forecast called for sun and wind, but we got this instead. This is a view to the southwest:
This is looking northeast:
It snowed for about ten minutes, and then the sun came out.

The guy I live with then decided he couldn’t take it any more, and went out into the garden and cut down a whole bunch of grasses and other things. A lot of longer stems were stuck in the ice, which made him very irritated (I could tell), but on the other hand he enjoyed the work, and I had a good time supervising.
The path on the north side was mostly cleared of dead horehound stems and so on.
I know you’ll be extremely jealous of the makeshift greenhouse. A lot of people are. A stylish garden accoutrement like this adds a certain something to this view.
The guy I live with said people are also jealous of the rustic craftmanship of the fence you can see there. He installed it (if “installed” is the right word) because he claimed I kept going into that garden to chase squirrels.
He said he might write an article on how to make your garden look so rustic. I would have used the word “ramshackle” but the guy I live with said no.

What he really wants, fence-wise, is this “vintage” steel fencing that’s become very hard to find. I mean hard to find exactly what he wants. Steel, no extra hoops at the bottom, not too tall, and not coated in green plastic.
There used to be an antique store a few miles from here, and he was thinking of going there, because that’s where you’d find rolls of “vintage” fencing like this; he and his wife went there fairly often, but the place is gone now. Like so many things.
He’ll keep looking.
Anyway, that’s the fence story.

Now about the pots.
The guy I live with said you can tell how rough this winter has been by the effect it’s had on the pots out in the garden, especially the unglazed pots. (I know some people call them “containers”, but they’re pots.) There are a lot of pots in the garden, mostly filled with hens and chicks. (Sempervivums.)
These Mexican clay pots have been in the garden for a long time, but now they’re trashed. They’re easily and inexpensively replaced, though.
What happened here, I think, was that the pots got wet when it rained last December, and then the temperature dropped, and they never recovered from that. They could have been brushed on the inside with Thompson’s Water Seal, or something similar, before being planted in, but the guy I live with said he forgot to do that.

Glazed pots last much longer, in general.
This one fell apart last winter, I think. Maybe the glaze wasn’t very well made, and that makes all the difference.
Sometimes these can be mended with a concrete-repairing glue (looks like Elmer’s glue, but isn’t), the pot held in place with a strap, but this one didn’t stay glued. The holes in the sides wouldn’t be much of an issue except all the glazing flaked away there, so the walls are very thin.

This trough broke in half, last century, and was mended with that glue. It might be coming apart again.
There’s probably a kind of glue that could be squirted into the crack with a caulking gun, though the trough might be well-enough balanced on the cinder blocks as to stay together for a while.

The moral of all of this is to purchase quality glazed pots, if you want them to endure winter after winter, at least here.
This pot, of high quality, has been outdoors in Denver for sixty years. Sixty years. Not always in our yard, of course. It belonged to the guy I live with’s grandmother.
Some years ago there was a rough winter with a lot of ice, and the pot cracked.
It came as a shock to the guy I live with, considering how much it had been through. (The crack is on the other side, in this picture.)
And sixty years is a good return on a pot investment.

These are also very high-quality pots that the guy I live with hopes will last for a long time. They’ve been outside for about ten years now. You can see how thick the walls on the pots are. And the glaze is thick, too. They’re very heavy for their size.
So that’s our pots post. I hope you found it moderately interesting.

I’ll wind this up with a picture of me and the pots. And the unyielding ice behind me, which has been sprinkled with sand, for safety’s sake. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen ice this thick in the garden for so long.

Until next time, then.

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20 Responses to a pots post

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Ha! So I am not the only one who glues broken pots back together!

    • paridevita says:

      I suppose lots of people do, though it depends on the pot. The blue one that broke in half also had half the glaze flake off, so there really wasn’t any point in trying to fix it.
      I suppose it was the way the glaze was fired, or something.

  2. Paddy Tobin says:

    Good pots are quite expensive but worth it in the long run. I have also wired broken pots back together – it depends on the run of the break etc etc. But, a broken pot here and there can ALSO add a certain something to the garden.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says at Denver Botanic Gardens they have a whole garden that has pots lying on their sides with plants spilling out of them, and it’s pretty cool.
      The blue pots in the last picture were pretty expensive. There’s a larger set, not blue, that stayed in the shed all last year, for unknown reasons.

  3. Northern exposures have done a real number on the ice this year. I think the alley will likely be ice bound until June. After 20+ years in this house, some of the clay pots are beginning to disintegrate. Even the bird bath croaked a couple of years ago; I haven’t been able to find a decent replacement dish and ended up using a {albeit hideous looking…but semi serviceable…for now} plastic water catch dish designed for a huge pot. This way the solar fountain can provide water for the neighborhood birds (when the water isn’t frozen). Gardening along the Front Ranch definitely has its challenges. Stay warm and safe during this latest storm coming through, Mani. Same for the guy you live with.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; you too. It was pretty cold on our walk this morning. It seems like this is never going to end.
      The green bird bath out in the “way back” fell apart again; it’s just for looks and has been repaired several times.
      Our real bird bath is that green dish you can see in the last picture, with the heater cord running to it.
      The guy I live with says he has to take a trip to Old Santa Fe Pottery to get some more dishes for the hens and chicks. He could get glazed dishes and very carefully drill drainage holes in them with a carbide bit, but he said that’s too much work.

      • I agree with him about the level of work to drill holes. Hmmm, Old Santa Fe Pottery, I forget about that place and will try to check it out when I’m outside the home neighborhood. With traffic being such a cluster I don’t do a lot of driving too far away. Yeah, this way-too-long a winter can go away any day now as far as we’re concerned (although I saw some decent hyacinth and grape hyacinth growth recently so it gives me some hope).

      • paridevita says:

        The pottery place isn’t too much of a drive for the guy I live with, about 15 minutes on 285, though he doesn’t much enjoy going shopping by himself. (He plans to go to lunch with his friend this week, if it doesn’t snow, but he’d be driving in a different direction.)
        City Floral, a place he really likes but rarely visits any more (I could do a whole post on that alone, but it would really just be for people who live here), has a big selection of glazed pots.
        The guy I live with says this winter is so endless it’s endless. Winters of the past few years have seemed endless, too, but this one seems endlessly endless.

      • When I lived on the east side of town, a 100 years ago, I loved City Floral. I’m sure it’s changed since the early 80’s but next time I’m on that side of town (maybe the next trip to the Botanical Gardens to see emerging bulbs), I’ll swing by. 👍🏻

      • paridevita says:

        It has changed, but only because they expanded a bit to the south; the outdoor nursery is much larger now.
        Whoever does the Halloween and Christmas gift department has absolutely exquisite taste; the guy I live with’s wife used to spend a lot of time there, looking at things. (He’s gone there with his friend, too, to look at stuff, and sometimes to get books for her grandchildren.)
        The greenhouse is still the same. The guy I live with says the whole place is really crowded in May.

  4. We mostly leave our pots empty and just looking nice in the garden. But they all get put upside down for winter so no snow or ice can get at them. Any kind of greenhouse is a boon for a garden. So no complaints from here.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with “has to have” plants growing in pots all winter, so “careful selection” (meaning, luck) has to play a part. There are about twenty glazed pots that have been here for years, and half a dozen clay pots. And half a dozen troughs; down from the three dozen troughs that were here when I first showed up. (Most of the troughs have been given away, empty, to the botanic gardens.)
      The plastic replaced the wooden frame that was there. The guy I live with decided that the frame he went to all the trouble of building was “ugly”, but now there’s this bunch of plastic. It probably doesn’t even need to be there because the plants underneath don’t need protection, so I don’t really get it at all.

  5. bittster says:

    Enough with the ice. Maybe get out there with a hairdryer? Here we had some snow but it’s gone again, so kind of normal for the time of year but not this year.

    • paridevita says:

      We no longer use the word “normal” here. There’s been snow on the ground here since the last week in December, which sounds more like the Arctic than Denver, which used to be relatively warm, sunny winters, with the real snow coming in March (and then melting). At least there isn’t much talk of “fire weather”, for now, anyway.
      The ice on the paths started to melt in the last couple of days, helped by the sand the guy I live with sprinkled on it, but then it all froze again.

  6. Jerry says:

    Moderately entertained, indeed. I think the phrase people use nowadays instead of “rustic”, is shabby chic. But, that sounds pretentious when it shouldn’t. We follow the rustic aesthetic ourselves. Nothing is too good for our garden that can’t be glitzed up even more with something rusty, broken, disheveled, or out of place. Thanks for sharing your pot repair expertise.

    • paridevita says:

      You’re welcome. The stuff the guy I live with used was Quikrete concrete repair glue. He gave his bottle to the person from the botanic gardens who came to get a couple of troughs, He’s given them about a dozen troughs, since all the plants that were growing in them died in the last few years.
      Eventually he’ll find some of that fencing and things will look different. Or slightly different, anyway.

  7. Jerry says:

    Ok, had to jump back with a comment about your last post – Galanthus ‘Theresa Stone’ is from Corvallis?! I work over there and am excited to hear about a cultivar that comes from the area. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it, but didn’t find much about it online besides the (and your) comments over at the Pacific Bulb Society. Looks like it has an extra green blotch on the central set of tepals. I’m not usually so rash, but upgrade my moderate entertainment to high.

    • paridevita says:

      It was just one of those chance things. And the emotional associations for the guy I live with are not wonderful.
      Pooka, a purebred border collie who lived here before me, died in September of 2000, and the guy I live with’s wife was so distraught that he took her on the trip to Oregon, boarding Flurry, another purebred border collie, at my doctor’s. Flurry didn’t like being boarded, as it turned out.
      So when he sees these snowdrops, waves of painful memories flood over him, but he still likes the snowdrops.
      I’m not sure I totally understand humans.
      The offspring of ‘Theresa’ are super vigorous and maybe some will go to the botanic gardens, where I hear they need more snowdrops.

  8. Elaine says:

    You always look so thoughtful Mani. Must be due to all the crazy things the guy you live with gets up to. His ‘artful’ fence looks just like the one I installed to keep the porcupines out of my raspberries. Very stylish indeed. As the price of pots has climbed astronomically I am endeavouring to take better care of them as I can’t afford to replace them anymore. Winter is tough on them.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. We are very much into stylishness, as the medium-sixed Big Metal Chicken in the enclosure attests.
      One thing that apparently helps with pots is to paint the inside with Thompson’s Water Seal, which has a thing on the can saying something like “non-toxic if licked”, referring I guess to dogs who might lick water seal off pots. I of course wouldn’t, but Slipper, a purebred border collie who lived here before me, certainly did. He licked fresh paint off the rattan furniture in the living room, for instance.
      It’s funny that the olla, which is clay, and which you see on the patio here in pictures sometimes, has only had a little flaking after being hauled from Los Angeles to here. It must be at least seventy years old, maybe older.

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