History of Garden Pots

The history of garden pots goes back thousands of years.  Museums Worldwide are full of Antiquities relating to many different ethnic groups.  Wherever we go, when visiting the history, we can find evidence of container gardening and garden pots being used for horticultural purposes.

terracotta bricks

The advent of garden pots can be traced as far back as the great civilisations of Egypt, Assyria & Babylonia (considered to be the triple cradle of the human race) where the use of sun dried clay rectangular bricks was first popularised. 

From this advancement came the ability to use clay to use clay in art forms, enabling the design of garden pots as we know them today. Many of the classic garden pot designs seen in nurseries and speciality retailers today, are just stylised or scaled up variations of these early day pieces.  

Possibly the best known example of clay being used as an an art form are the over eight thousand Terracotta Warriors built for the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (the first Emperor of China) Circa 210 BC.

terracotta warriors

Although many lightweight, composite materials and plastics are popular today in the manufacturing of garden pots, terracotta pottery can be considered as the plastic of the Ancient world.  This is because, for many centuries, it allowed production of functional and decorative pieces that was relatively accessible for all.

Some of the most beautiful pieces of terracotta pieces can be found during the highly highly influential period of the Renaissance in which Italian and German artisans became highly skilled in the design and manufacture of highly decorative garden pots, urns and statues.  Classic examples from this period can be found at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy and a significant collection of Etruscan Terracotta pottery (prior to the Roman Empire) can also be viewed at the British Museum in London.



In more recent times, the garden pots that grace the magnificent Gardens of Versailles have been greatly admired (and copied) for there style, beauty, scale and symmetry.

The work of America's most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 - 1959) in designing urns, sculptures and statues for his ground breaking homes should also be considered as classics and therefore a modern entry into the significant history of garden pots.

I hope that in this very basic introduction to a breadcrumb of the History of Garden Pots, we have wet your appetite to learn more about this topic or at the very least, start a container garden knowing that you are following in the foot steps of many a great civilisation before you.

Happy Gardening


Article written by Sheraz Janif (2014)