French Planters

New, Vintage and Antique French Planters


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French Planters

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If planters from the mid 20th century—with their architectural angles and swimming pool-like basins—leave you feeling soulless, antique French planters may be just the thing to warm you up. Whether you possess a garden sown with history or you simply prefer a more romantic aesthetic, French pots and planters are ideal for those who want their plants and pots to showcase equally profound aesthetics.

French planters come in an array of styles and mediums. Cast iron French planters are common finds, as are those constructed of stone or metal. Richly-hued majolica, another mainstay of French design, is also frequently used in planters. Which is all to say: there is a crush of choices when it comes to French outdoor planters. Wondering which style will unleash the beatific potter within you, plus make your garden completely gorgeous? Read on to discover!

French Planter Urns

The epitome of elegance, the urn is a classic French planter shape. Artfully fluted, they enhance anything from upright topiaries to creeping tendrils. Generally speaking, most French urn planters have a Neoclassical bent. Ribbing is a common design embellishment as are garlands and festoons. While it is possible to find newly made French urn planters, the style is perhaps most coveted for its aged appearance. Crumbly exteriors, flakes of rust, and chippy paint jobs all make for a more prized urn. Rustic French urns made out of latticed wire can also be found on occasion. Whether you choose to use them as topiary forms to train vines up, or fill them with artfully splayed plants like ferns, is entirely up to you.

When looking for urns it’s perhaps most pertinent to consider size. Rustic French urns come in an impressive array of sizes, ranging from diminutive tabletop models to hulking statuary pieces. If you’re looking for pieces to flank an entryway, you’ll likely want to scale up. Looking for urns to stand on guard around a bistro table? Don’t outsize your table, but don’t settle for anything overly petite, either. While on the topic of scale, it’s worth giving some thought to tailoring your plants to your pot’s size. Avoid anything that looks like it could topple your planter. Given urns’ slender silhouettes it’s best to stick to dwarf trees and small-scale bushes like boxwood. Have a tall French planter? Balance it with a little height and avoid anything too low-lying or crawl-y unless it’s nested beneath a taller specimen.

French Animal Planters

If the cheeky side the French speaks to you most, you’d be remiss to not consider a French animal planter. Most often composed of concrete or ceramic, these plucky planters will lend any garden an element of surprise as well as imbue it with a storybook quality. Unlike the Italians who historically tended to incorporate more exotic species (think lions and tigers) into their ceramics and planters, French planters tend to stick to more domesticated species, including hens, swans, and rabbits. Perhaps most ubiquitous among this style of French planter is the hobnail frog planter, designed in the style of Jean Roger. To the uninitiated, Jean Roger was a French ceramicist who opened a Paris boutique in 1947. Among his many whimsical designs, it was his colorful hobnail frog planters that gained the most traction, even earning devotion from tastemakers as prolific as Jackie Onassis and Coco Chanel.

French animal planters can be dropped virtually anywhere in a garden, but they can make a particularly poignant impact when nestled into a recessed nook or hidden alcove. If your garden lacks the sort of pathways or vegetation required for the element of surprise, consider plunking one on top of an outdoor patio table. Fancy yourself a better hostess than a gardner? Opt for a large French swan planter or something equally epic and resist the urge to root anything inside. Keep your vessel empty and fill with ice and drinks come party time.

French Wood Barrel Planters

Best suited for large trees, French wood planters fashioned from old wine barrels are ideal for making a statement in a yard or garden. Select wood planters with care, as they will have a dramatically reduced lifespan if they already show signs of damage or rot. Worth keeping in mind is that wood and water aren’t the best of bedfellows, so there is a life expectancy factor to contend with. That said, few planters offer up the dimensions of a French barrel planter, and even fewer for the relatively reasonable cost of one.

Barrel planters are likely to skew a bit more Provincial than Parisian, especially when paired with arid-loving herbs like lavender or Mediterranean trees like olive trees or lemon trees. If you’re fine with things taking a more rustic direction, consider accenting these French wood planters with rustic patio furniture, including time-worn bistro tables and folding chairs.