Sunday, 14 March 2010

Crackpot



I have no luck at all when it comes to terracotta pots. Somehow, and quite how I'm not sure, I manage to break, crack or chip them, no special skill required. Add to that this winter's in excess of fifty frosts and the casualty list is large.

Truth is it leaves me flat. Apart from costing a small fortune, there's seasons of weathered patina which is irreplaceable, at what cost age?

The pot above is being held together with garden wire which you can see under the rim. It seems to work and is definitely preferable to losing it altogether. No, no, I don't want to lose this one. The new growth you can see is a Convolvulus, or more correctly and as sold to me, Convolvulus de Mauritanie which I've overwintered and now have started bringing into the enormously welcome spring sunshine.



That's frost damage above. I stuck it together with the latest wonder glue 'No more drilling' which is a bit similar to the 'No more nails' that I remember back in the UK. It boasts a strength of 100 kilos per centimetre squared. No more falling apart I hope, in fact has anyone a really good suggestion for fixing terracotta? I would be eternally grateful.



Another cracker above supporting an Agave americana and just crying out to be fixed with wire. I think I'll get on to that tomorrow morning.



Waiting to be planted, I'm particularly looking forward to seeing the Chocolate Cosmos this Summer. They should look good in a pot, cracked or not.



Finally, that's Harold. You wouldn't think he's sixteen would you?

31 comments:

  1. Here are a couple of thoughts that might be helpful with the terra cotta.

    First, if you want an "attractive" repair (though it will be hard to do on those with multiple cracks), use a very fine drill bit, make a bunch of holes and "lace it up" with copper wire. That works easily on a pot with just one crack (like the top one).

    Another observation. My terra cotta dealer in the US says you absolutely, positively MUST put pot feet under them to avoid the cracking from freezing. He also says you MUST put a couple of inches of "filler" in the bottom, like those styro peanuts. The only time my terra cotta pots crack is when I don't do what he tells me!

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  2. Oh what a shame Rob - at least the plants look unscathed. I have lost a favourite terracotta vase - don't know what it was doing outside but found it in a most sad state today :( Good advice from Tim about the feet.

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  3. Tim thanks! Aha, good idea about lacing up the pot and great tips for when freezing

    Anna, shame about the vase. The frost seems to have got at everything this year.

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  4. Cracked pots or not, these are stunning photo, Rob! I spent $70 each on 2 terra cotta pots with awesome moss growing on all sides (will not speak of hubby's eyes when I handed him the chit with a huge kiss). Both are now glued with not attractive repair but will again showcase forced spring bulbs. Happy Spring!

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  5. Rob, I am going against the grain here, and saying that I don't mind the cracks. You live in an environment that supports that look, and anything to perfectly formed looks too new.

    I rather love it.

    Kitty is gorgeous also.

    Jen

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  6. Your pots are lovely, cracks and all. Harold is the most handsome cat I have ever seen! Carla

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  7. I must say I agree with Muddy Boot Dreams, the cracks add to the scene!
    Call them "distressed" terracotta pots! Lovely photos.

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  8. I could never garden with pots -- it gets too hot here and they'd have to be watered 2x a day. Beautiful picture of Harold. He looks like he's about to say what's on his mind.

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  9. I think Harold is just glad to be out in some sunshine that actually reaches the ground for a change.

    I think cracks look okay, but I'm not okay with losing what's in them. I've heard of the holes and lacing together scenario, and have seen some in pictures, and they actually look loved, more than anything else.

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  10. Harold is a dignified gentleman! :-)

    I'm not bothered by the cracks, but I know that it can get worse with years as the terra cotta is meant to hold moisture.

    I've also heard to elevate the pots (on pot feet or something) so the water can drain.

    I have one terra cotta container that I love, but I put it under the shelter of the eave in winter, out of the rain to reduce the freeze-thaw cycle. I really should store it in the garage.

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  11. Sorry to see so many of your pots were damaged. I love terra cotta but so many crack during the winter I now only buy the cheap ones. Hopefully the glue you used will help. The lacing up idea sounds like it would look really nice.

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  12. Tim's information is very useful. I have some nice pots cracked, but not from freezing. Too many boys around here riding their bikes too close to my pots!Actually, there are only two of them... One rose is still growing in a damaged container, and it's doing pretty well. Can you put some moss in the cracks?

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  13. I used to empty them every fall and turn them upside down under my potting table to give them a bit of shelter from the snow/water. After my back went out a few times doing this merry-go-round, I gave up. I put my terra cotta beauties on the corner with a free sign before a garden tour at my house. Problem solved. Yes, I do miss them, but I don't miss the maintenance and twinges in my back.

    Christine in Alaska

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  14. Harold will sort it out! Looking good. Chocolate Cosmos - definately yes. Love your blue sky. This Spring is a timeto see what damage this blasted Winter has done.

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  15. Cracked or not, your pots look good. I have a few with the wires holding them together. Your Harold is so very handsome, what a charmer. Lidy

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  16. What a beautiful post! No, Harold does NOT look 16! What a pretty kitty! (sorry...handsome!) I'm sorry about your luck with the clay pots. I'm sure the weather does not help, as you've said. However, I don't think the cracks are particularly unattractive. Honestly, as long as they hold your plants properly, I wouldn't worry about it!

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  17. Great post.

    Terra cotta is always attractive, even reduced to holding sedums in what's left of the shards. Patina is like icing on a tasty cake.

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  18. I love terracotta -- but I despair of ever getting it to last for very long. I admire the patina and the cracks on your pots, though, so however you can fix them, good job. :)

    Harold is so classy, I can tell. He doesn't look sixteen or even close, such a healthy, bright coat -- but his eyes bespeak centuries of wisdom. (And yet still, strangely, I long to cuddle him like a babe. Must be because of the adorable kitty factor. ;)

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  19. Oh Harold is so handsome! We have given up on the terra cotta and have gone to the hypertufa pots we made or the glazed ones which have held up fairly well. I love the look of the terra cotta, but they never make it through the winter here. Or most do not. A couple do and we don't know why, but new ones never do. Sad. I have tried the pot feet, it doesn't help.
    Frances

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  20. Your photographs are so lovely Rob ... the colors in your terra cotta pots... cracked and all ... along with the colors of your stone walls and building walls (stucco?) I forget and I cannot scroll up to see the pic again... go so beautifully with your shutters! You have a wonderful sense for color. All of the photos have that special charming French countryside feeling. They will look great in your book ... when you get around to that. I have the same problem with pots... now you have inspired me to use wire! So clever!! Sweet kitty! Great to see your world again! ;>) Carol

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  21. Beautiful photos!
    Awesome blog.

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  22. Your place is so lovely as always. And the kitty is very handsome and photogenic! Thank you for reminding me of Brodaea. I used to give horseback tours in the Sonoma Valley and the Brodaea was always the first lovely wildflower in the springtime there. Long lasting blossoms, and the charming star shape is so cheerful. I'm going to see if they would be happy where I live now in NW Washington State. Cheers! Bonnie

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  23. Harold can't possibly be 16, he's gorgeous.. Oh how the weather and scenery in your photos look so tempting - we were half thinking of moving to France but have put off for another while. will definitely check in again

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  24. Gardens look better with old terra cotta. Yours is proof.

    My marmalade cat lived to age 22. Harold has gorgeous eyes and seems completely self-aware.

    Just bought some chinese terra cotta, imported by AW Pottery in Atlanta, GA. Advertised frost proof, not cheap. We'll see.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  25. Your terra cotta pots look great, cracks or no cracks, must be the area, stone walls, old....., that makes it! I have lost a few terra cotta pots, but anytime I see them especially if cheap I pick them up. Plants just have that more attractive picture to them! You tell Harold he doesn't look a day over 5! Still as handsome as ever!!

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  26. Harold's a cutie. Yes, it's hard to replace that great patina, isn't it? Sounds like some good suggestions, which I will take as well. The most expensive terra cotta pot I have is cracked (partially done in when we moved here). I used something like that Hard as Nails stuff. I think I might try the wire trick as well.

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  27. I kind of like the cracked look. It add to the ambiance of the ancient French farm house. The problem is of course, they don't last once cracked. They fall to pieces. All the cold this year has destroyed a very old pot in our garden. It's not cracked but it has chips falling off the side. This is less attractive and I think irreparable.

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  28. Everything at your place is so charmingly romantic, I think you can actually get away with cracked terra cotta as some sort of art statement.

    I planted chocolate cosmos last year mixed with blue Geranium Rozanne. After seeing how dramatic the chocolate colored leaves of my Cordyline 'Festival Grass' looked next to blue flowers, I replicated the idea in another part of the garden. They're beautiful, but so dark, they can easily disappear if they don't have a backdrop or lighter companion plant. For a client I mixed them with Mexican Feather Grass, and if you can manage its invasive quality, its a stunning combination.

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  29. I know how you feel about terracotta pots, all I have to do is look at one and it cracks!

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  30. Love the surroundings of your garden and bet it is all beautiful in bloom. I love hollyhocks and the first time I had them, they also developed rust and died. I then planted more 3 years ago and they have done beautifully. I bought a spray that the garden center recommended and they thrived.

    Even though the pots are cracked, they're still great, they have character.

    We had a cat that could have been the twin in your photo. Wonderful pics, thanks!

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