Recycled Can Be Beautiful

My mother always taught me that if you want a painting to sell, it really helps if it matches the couch. Indoor container gardens are no different! Plants and planters in muted designer hues are worth their weight in harvest gold, but there's a big difference between a chocolate colored plastic pot and one crafted out of chocolate stained teak. Even better if that pot is sustainably made with 70-50% recycled materials like wood, cork, grass and cocoa.

When the 'green' movement met its peak in fashion and decor magazines, I was horrified by the extravagant products that took too much effort and money to really be of much benefit to the environment. After all, a green product is only really sustainable if it's affordable and stays in demand, right?

In researching for my book I was surprised to see that not only had a company made reasonably priced flowerpots made of recycled materials, but that they were gorgeous and made by Fiskars, the same company who makes those awesome garden and crafting tools that we all know and love.
My first experience with Fiskars was in childhood: A pair of gray rubber gripped spring loaded scissors that my mother only let my sister and I use when under her watchful eye. The closest product I see today is in their Softgrip line, but these were more angular and sleek, like Robocop or Inspector Gadget might use. Mind you, this was in the early 90's. They cut perfectly straight lines without any strain on the hands, so I was always clamoring to use them for school assignments and giving my sister's dolls haircuts. My mom thought I loved cutting out coupons because I was keen on saving money, but I suspect that it had more to do with those Softgrip scissors. My mom still had those scissors last year, but by that point she just used them for everything.

When Fiskars sent me four Natureline pots to trial, they also included a pair of their Micro-Tip pruners, which had the same spring loaded and rubber gripped action that I remembered from the days of cutting out Calvin and Hobbes comics. I hope to give my own child memories of trimming bonsai and houseplants with his/her father.

I knew just how I would use the recycled wood pot, and it had my Billbergia bromeliad's name written all over it. As I pointed out in a previous post, I always like to include a plant with some of the same features as the container, and the Billbergia was perfect in both its color and texture. When a friend of mine was showing me his own clump of Billbergias, he rather apologetically pointed out that they always looked like they were brown and suffering. I told him that they were perfectly healthy, but to stand out all they needed was the right context. Isolated against a blank background and paired with a matching pot, it now looks sculptural and dignified.

The dark and architectural triangular rosettes of Aloe variegata 'Gator' not only added contrast, but harmony. As luck would have it, the banded patterns of the Aloe mimicked those of the pot admirably. For a soft textural contrast, I included Sedum lineare 'Variegatum', which also added a touch of light sage green to the composition. A beige Echeveria was placed at the edge to mirror the color of the container's bands, and a small Haworthia was tucked in to create a shadow of contrast. This container will thrive in a sunny windowsill with minimal watering. As it grows out, the sedum and echeveria can be trimmed or removed to make room for the Aloe as it matures, or the whole arrangement can be repotted in a larger container. Hopefully Fiskars will offer larger Natureline pots by then!

I might be getting ahead of myself here, but wouldn't it be cool to see this kind of material used for a greater variety of containers? I've seen ugly plastic pots retail for more than these eco-friendly treasures, so it would stand to reason that this could be the beginning of a beautiful thing for container gardeners everywhere.

Recycled Natureline pots were contributed by Fiskars, Aloe 'Gator and Sedum lineare were contributed by Proven Selections.



  1. My father-in-law was recycling long before it became the thing to do. Two years before he was due to retire from the railroad (he was an engineer, ergo: he drove the train) his back yard was a forest of the large size coffee cans filled with every type and color of hibiscus he could find. He wanted to have his own specialized nursery. He was known for his "green thumb" and the story around the neighborhood was if Gus Raiford stuck an ax handle in the ground, it would take root and grow. Unfortunately, he passed away about six months before he was to retire. The following winter, a hard freeze wiped out all the young hibiscus plants. You would have really impressed him.

  2. i love to hear these stories about old fashioned gardening... makes me wonder how his hibiscus would look today! those old gardens are the most beautiful i think!


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