While visiting the Nashville Antique and Garden Show this year, faux bois was one of the key items featured in the garden dealer booths. These items were all sold early on Friday, proving their popularity. All these were made of concrete, included moss patina, and most were brought back from Europe by the dealers. Faux bois details are great in many gardens for this contrast of cottage and modern. There is also many different ways you can add it to your garden.
CONCRETE FAUX BOIS
One of my favorite garden containers I own is the faux bois planter next to our back door. It is my favorite for a few reasons. First the story of when and where we found it. (It was on a detoured state route in rural Wisconsin on our trip back from the PPA symposium in Minneapolis, MN. It caused us to u-turn in the middle of the road and strapping down luggage to get it back to Ohio.) It is also my favorite for the mix natural wood graining in the rough and raw texture of concrete. The fact it needs leveled with pennies, missing a small chuck in a foot, and an amateur repair on side adds to its charm.
Our container at home at a few different seasons. This is placed at our back porch against the black portion of our home which makes both the container and plantings pop.
This is a small concrete planter belonging to a client that is planted with succulents. The smaller sized containers look great on outdoor or indoor tables and do not require a crew of people to move.
We saw this faux bois planter in Preston, CT over the summer filled with ferns. Something this size is extremely heavy but its heft is scale and weight gave it the realistic feeling of a carved out tree trunk.
Outside of planters, faux bois can be added to the garden in furniture. There is antique furniture and contemporary designers still crafting in these designs today. Carlos Cortes is the most recognized craftsman, (see article from Martha Stewart here). Other designers include Branch Studio, Husson Studio, and Marcella Marie. Outside of using concrete you can also find cast iron benches with faux bois details.
RESIN FAUX BOIS
Besides our concrete planter, we have had a wood stump planter that was painted at one time to look like a real wood stump, but over the past few years has chipped off. This is a much more manageable size to use and moves around from inside to outdoors. This one is made of a mystery resin and was purchased a long time ago at auction with no maker marks. Even up close this planter looks very realistic compared to the concrete versions.
CAST IRON FAUX BOIS
Cast Iron Faux bois is another antique item you can use to add to the garden. From benches, hitching posts and ornaments, the cast iron stands up to wear and tear. Oddly enough we saw no cast iron faux bois while at the Nashville antique and garden show.
This cast iron hitching post is from Moss Mountain Farm, the home of P.Allen Smith. Painted black it is the perfect fix of form and function.
Here are two runs of metal edging that evoke the look of bent branches. Adding these are a subtle nod to natural elements in the garden while serving a function creating edges to different areas.
SEWER TILE FAUX BOIS
Another antique faux bois planter belonging to my in-laws collection is made by sewer tile craftsmen. These are made from the same material as the tile, so have the color of the red clay used. These are American made but are equally expensive as their European counter parts for their rarity.
This planter is about 2 feet tall and 3ft wide and crafted using clay used to craft sewer tiles. This planter was purchased in Southern Ohio and was most likely made by a Ohio craftsman.
BOARD FORMED CONCRETE
Finally, the most contemporary way of adding faux bois to the garden is using board formed concrete. This could be in retaining walls or in fireplaces, really any were you would use poured concrete. These are created using wood boards that have been sandblasted to bring out the graining in the forming process. HERE is a great post about how it is accomplished.
Here is a round up of some faux bois planters that don/t require visiting antique shows , France or farm auctions.
I ordered the Martha Stewart QVC 19” planter, and will let you know what I think about it when it arrives in March. Also, this spring I am planning on selling some of our antique garden items. I have held on to stuff for too long and it’s time to pass along and make room for new items. Will keep you posted, but I know metal edging is going to be up for grabs.