Must Have: Flower Power

It's not just what's in your planters that makes a statement.

Flower Power

By John R. Moses

Planters can be a vital part of landscaping, but at altitude and with extreme weather conditions, not just any planter will do. Durable metal planters need liners, as they collect summer heat. Our cold temperatures crush standard terra cotta. Jackson architect Peggy Gilday notes that design flexibility and weight are also factors: Concrete is a commitment, but durable, while plastic models are much lighter. Freezeproof planters are a favorite of MD Nursery & Landscaping Inc.’s Erin Burnham. “Nothing is 100 percent,” Burnham says, but bringing any kind of planter to a sheltered area for winter will extend its life. “The other rule of thumb is bigger is better,” she says. More soil means more moderate temperatures for roots. Allison Fleury of Inside Out Landscape Architecture, LLC doesn’t have a favorite planter, but noted plastic models are getting better. “Go with what looks good,” she says.


Loll Designs

Jackson architect Peggy Gilday is known for her bold designs, like Teton County Library, Local Restaurant, and her own home in East Jackson. So it’s no surprise that she knows about Duluth, Minnesota-based Loll Designs, which makes planters in addition to outdoor furniture. “They can be expensive,” Gilday says of the planters. “But they’re superdurable, they don’t lose their color, and they don’t crack. You can leave them out. They’re fairly thick plastic.” Agrostis Inc. landscape architect Jason Snider agrees. “It’s definitely made to hold up to the weather,” he says. Loll products are also eco-friendly—they’re made mostly from recycled milk jugs—and come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, including a sixty-gallon Mondo planter. From $138,


Whiskey Barrels

“Half whiskey barrels” are one option, says thirty-seven-year veteran landscape designer Rolland Kuhr of Naturescape Designs. Widely available at landscape element retailers, Kuhr says the sturdy structures work in the mountains, although he does prefer to design his own planters: “It depends on the client.” Cast concrete planters also stand up well. Expect to pay about $25 for a half-barrel; 307/733-5564


The Civic Planter

If one’s taste runs to the creatively institutional, Maglin Site Furniture incorporates benches and other elements into the planter. These can be used “in civic projects when seating is an issue,” architect Peggy Gilday says. They also make planters that are just planters. From $300,



When does a planter not look like a planter? When it’s in the ground. Among designs created by Verdone Landscape Design of Jackson are graceful stairways with stone planters on each side. “Our designs are more natural,” says Verdone landscape architect Brannon Bleggi. “When we do planters, they’re custom.” Wood can be melded with metal elements to create a lasting planter able to stand up to our climate and protect a plant’s roots.

Photograph by Bradly J. Boner


Products by Champa Ceramics of Seattle are the top pick of MD Nursery & Landscaping Inc.’s Erin Burnham. Champa makes deeply toned metal planters, and their special ceramic products—they’re high-fired and sealed on the inside so water cannot penetrate the clay—are made to withstand deep freezes. “They don’t absorb water,” Burnham says. This means they can survive our freeze-thaw cycles. From $100,

Photograph by Bradly J. Boner
Photograph by Bradly J. Boner


Ella planters are a resin product the manu-facturer refers to as ArtStone. ArtStone is made of a resin composite mixture, which provides durability and strength in all environments. From $40, MD Nursery & Landscaping, 2389 S. Highway 33, Driggs, Idaho; 208/354-8816

Share This Story With Friends