Using Faux Bois in the Garden

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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.

Collection of antique Faux Bois planters seen at the Nashville Antique & Garden Show - More images and details at Thinking Outside the Boxwood



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.

Faux Bois Planter over the season - how to incorporate faux bois into the garden - more at

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.


Faux Bois fiber cement table top planter filled with succulents - more at

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.


Faux Bois planter filled with ferns seen in Preston CT. - More on Faux Bois at Thinking Outside the Boxwood

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.



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.

Using Faux Bois in the Garden, Thinking Outside the Boxwood



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.

Faux Bois in the Garden - Cast Iron Hitching Post at Moss Mountain Farm. More at

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.


Using Faux Bois in the garden - Metal Edging that evokes bent branches. More at

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.




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.

Using Faux Bois in the Garden - 20th Century Sewer Tile Faux Bois Planter - More examples on

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.




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.


Faux Bois in the Garden - Board Formed Concrete from Howells Architecture +Design from Dwell. More uses at

A board formed concrete wall from Howell Architecture + Design via This method can be used for fire pits, walls and raised beds.



Here is a round up of some faux bois planters that don/t require visiting antique shows , France or farm auctions.

Using Faux Bois in the Garden with containers - More at


(1) Martha Stewart for QVC 19 inch Planter

(2) Capital Garden Products Driftwood Planter

(3) 910Casting Concrete Faux Bois Planter

(4) Pennoyer Newman Tree Hallow Planter


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.


Woodland Inspiration for Planting Daffodils

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The life of a gardener is spent with one foot in beds tending to what is currently growing and the other foot planning 2-3 seasons ahead. I think it is the anticipation or daydream of what we could be growing is what keeps us going as the gardens go to bed over the fall/winter season. My garden to do list is filled with cleanup tasks, but what has me excited is the collection of spring bulbs I am currently planting.

Natural woodland plantings of spring daffodils - more at

One of the spring bulbs we are planting at home and across client properties are daffodils. Along with many spring bulbs, daffodils are easy to tuck into your existing beds without disrupting existing perennials and easy to plant for any novice.


Spring Bulbs Inspiration from nature with daffodils, tulips and snowdrops - More on

This year, my daffodil inspiration is the unexpected places you see the flowers blooming during the spring. At home we have masses of daffodils tucked throughout our woodland in sporadic groupings incorporated around the trunks in clusters of multiple varieties.  These groupings are relics of a home burned down 20 years ago on our property and have naturalized over the years into this completely organic pattern.


Natural woodland plantings of spring daffodils - more at

The palate of whites, oranges and yellows allow you to mix many different varieties together without the flowers clashing, and depending on the combos, pull out the different features of each variety. The fallen leaves provide a great foil to the vivid green leaves, and help hide the foliage as it dies back later in the season.  The combo image below showcases all the different daffodils we have growing in our woodland, however, I am sure there are more we may have missed photographing. Our diverse varieties provide us with blooms through the entire spring season and making woodland walks exciting to see the evolution of the prominent color as the varieties alternate peak bloom.


Woodland Inspiration for Planting Daffodils, Thinking Outside the Boxwood


Earlier this spring we built a few bulb containers using our cluster woodland plantings as inspiration and I loved how reminded me of our home.

Spring Bulbs Inspiration from nature with daffodils, tulips and snowdrops - More on Spring Bulbs Inspiration from nature with daffodils, tulips and snowdrops - More on Spring Bulbs Inspiration from nature with daffodils, tulips and snowdrops - More on


Next spring we have 60 black gallon nursery pots pre-planted with bulbs for building more unique containers of the more unique varieties. All the varieties we have for next year are from Longfield Gardens, and here is a sampling of what we are working with. The plan is to have these winter over and then as the push in the spring transfer into containers. Wish us luck.

      Narcissus Baby Boomer

      Narcissus Delnashaugh

       Narcissus Jetfire

       Narcissus La Torch

       Narcissus Pink Pride

       Narcissus Barrett Browning

Boston Container Designs

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I am working pulling together all the posts from my trip out to Boston for the APLD conference and I found photos from walking around Boston that don’t fit into any of my other posts. Boston had some great container designs in the Back Bay area and along the shops on Newbury street. If you want to see more beautiful container designs from the Boston area, view fellow APLD member and Friend, Ellen of PERENNIAL GARDENS portfolio.

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