Ken Revisits last year's A Pot For All Seasons
Have you ever left a clay pot outdoors over winter and had it crack? Water expands as it freezes, even the moisture in planting medium, which will have enough force to break most terra cotta pots, or even a concrete planter. There are a few things you can do. I’ve had a bit of success lining cone-shaped pots with thin bubble wrap before planting. If your pot has been used for annuals or tender perennials that will not have to be left in the pots, you can cover the containers with a kind of giant shower cap made of plastic and tied with rope or bungee cord. These caps will keep more moisture from getting into the medium. Under all circumstances, make sure the drainage hole isn’t clogged, which might stop water from dripping out of the pots. And elevate the container on pot feet, bricks or blocks of wood so the hole does not get blocked, and the container does not freeze to the ground or patio. Better still; bring the pot into a cool dry place, like an unheated basement.
Best of all, spring for a terra cotta pot that is made from a high mineral content clay, and that has been fired at very high temperatures. You can get a bit of an idea of the quality of a pot from its weight (heavier is better), and its sound. A good pot will ring, since it is like an upside down bell, if you tap it with the wooden handle of a trowel, or even your knuckle. A cheaply made pot will “thwap” or “thud.” None of these precautions will completely ensure that a pot won't break.
It takes guts to guarantee a terra cotta pot, but that is exactly what the company Seibert & Rice do. Lenore Rice is our guest this week. She is a partner with Mara Seibert in the company Seibert & Rice – a leading importer of handmade terracotta pots and planters from Impruneta, Italy. (Lenore and Mara with a few of the Impruneta artisans, above, right.)
Seibert & Rice historical pots can be seen throughout the country, for example, at Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina (above, left). New designs are also available through the company, and I’ve had the honor of designing one (pepper pot, right). See them at www.seibert-rice.com.
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