English Stoneware Garden Pots

English-stoneware-garden-pots.jpgAnywhere in the world where garden pots are made, there are stoneware pots being made. As noted in the post on Belgian stoneware, the stone like quality of the pots has to do with the mineral content of the clay, which when fired at very high temperatures, becomes very hard, and impervious to frost. The English made stoneware pots pictured above have a particularly beautiful color and surface, which comes from a process known as salt glazing. From Wikipedia:  “Salt glaze pottery is stoneware with a glaze of glossy, translucent and slightly orange-peel-like texture which was formed by throwing common salt into the kiln during the higher temperature part of the firing process. Sodium from the salt reacts with silica in the clay body to form a glassy coating of sodium silicate.”  The glazed surfaces of these pots is definitely glassy. The color reminds me of freshly baked bread. Delicious.  That glossy brown color is beautiful, in contrast to a treasured group of plants.

English-pottery.jpgThe pottery has been in production since 1878. It has remained a family owned business throughout the past 237 years. Each pot is either hand thrown, molded, or cast. The people who make these pots are working people.  Just like the gardeners I know.  Rob toured the pottery last September, and placed a large order. Pictured above is his rental car in the pottery lot.  That order was delivered to our shipper several weeks ago, and will hopefully be on its way to us shortly.

English-coal-fired-kiln.jpgThe beehive kiln is very old, but works well enough to thoroughly cook these iconic British pots.  The heat from the kiln is recycled into the building where the pots are made, via that large pipe at the top. This ancient kiln is as beautiful as the pots.

coal-for-the-kiln.jpgThe kiln is coal fired, with a type of coal that is very hard and clean burning. Anthracite is very difficult to ignite, but once it is burning, it burns with a smokeless blue flame.

English-stoneware.jpgThe temperature inside the kiln at the height of the firing cycle is incredibly hot. Handfuls of salt are thrown inside, at the hottest moment. This results in a lot of variation in color – but every color variation is beautiful.   That heat keeps the adjacent studio warm. Though this kiln is ancient, the pots have a timeless quality to them. They are quiet and sturdy.  We so value stoneware garden pots, as when they are properly cared for, they can survive our winters. At one time or another I have left all manner of handmade garden pots outside over the winter.  The handmade pots have thick walls, and are fired at very high temperatures. This makes them a more durable pot all around. Stoneware pots are exceptionally durable.  If you love terra cotta pots in your garden, consider a stoneware pot. They will grace your garden year after year, without complaint. The design of these pots is all about their functionality.  The rims are thick, and resist chipping.  The drain holes are generous. Even the small sizes have generous planting area.

garden-pot-production.jpgThe real beauty of these pots is the beauty that comes from within. They are made one at a time, all by hand. They have a history that dates back centuries. They are not fancy.  They are handsome, and serviceable. The surface glows, and the colors are scrumptious. These pots do the work, of providing a quietly beautiful home for a collection of flowering plants, or a grouping of rosemaries. The first container load we purchased from them 2 years ago is gone now. It was time to restock. They are very different than the Belgian stoneware pots-but I would not hesitate to put them together. I would be confident to place them in a more contemporary setting as much as a more traditional garden.  Their clean lines and simple shapes would work just about anywhere.

Europe 2014 1017It took four months for our order to be made. One pot at a time. They are worth waiting for – of that I am sure.  I have held them in my hands, and felt glad to be a gardener. Rob’s pictures of his visit to the pottery tells that story. Early in March, we will be awash in these pots.  I can’t wait.

kiln-door.jpgkiln door

Europe 2014 1068stacks of salt glazed potssalt-glazed-pots.jpgEnglish salt glazed pots

salt-glazed-pots.jpgfired earth

salt-glazed-stoneware-pots.jpgsalt glazed stoneware pots

English-salt-glazed-garden-pots.jpgpot stacks

salt-glazed-strawberry-jar.jpgstrawberry jars

pot-stack.jpgEnglish stoneware garden pots

ssalt-glazed-garden-pots.jpgThese pots may be subtle, but their story is remarkable. I am so looking forward to having them again.



  1. hazel hannaway says

    Looks ? like Derbyshire? Wonderful!!

  2. Susan Roubal says

    Beautiful pottery and how wonderful to see the actual potteries in Belgium and England- I’ll have to make it to Detroit Garden Works to see these pots! How is it that European/English pottery has such an elegance and permanence to it? The surfaces are more natural, no garish glazes. I can only imagine how beautiful some of these will look when potted up by your masterful staff! Thank you for a promising escape from winter.

  3. Beautiful.

  4. Joni Holland says

    Hi there! I love ALL these beautiful pots. So what a funny thing. I found your blog via another blog. Signed up and now why shouldn’t I be surprised? I have a business fb page ( Blooming’ Crazy by Joni Holland) which has posted MANY pics of one of my other favorite fb pages…Detroit Garden Works! You are avery talented lady and I love your work! Inspiring!!!- joni

  5. Fascinating! I love the history and photos of the old pottery. I’m so glad you are importing these lovely creations to Michigan.

  6. you did it again I am stunned they are elegant

  7. Perfect post for a Michigan winter day…..when you are inside with a summer planning book.

  8. Ros Turner says

    Hello Deborah

    Thank you for this post. The fact that this pottery is still going strong despite economic ups and downs is a testament to the amazing pots and the skills of the people who make them. Would you be able to give the pottery a further boost by revealing it’s name?

    Thank you for being such a keen supporter of British craftsmanship!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Ros, both of the containers we have coming in early March are stuffed with all manner of English garden goods-new, vintage, and antique. We are strong supporters of British craftsmanship, and their love affair with gardening-which is centuries old. Best, Deborah

  9. Ros Turner says

    Dear Deborah

    How wonderful to think of all of those pots finding creative homes in the US and being appreciated for their beauty and longevity.

    Unpacking must be like Christmas!

    Best wishes


  10. Dear Rob, thank you so much for this interesting post! Oh I love these kind of post!!! And the pictures you are showing are like some out of another century! Wonderful!
    All my best from an Austrian gardener

  11. I love what you are doing, great blog , facebook and website.
    Keep up the great work.
    Jerry Beaumont, a potter for 53 years. Beaumont Pottery

  12. This is wonderful! Reading this in 3 degree weather, looking at the kiln is keeping me warm! A really well done post. SO happy I came upon your blog.

  13. simply lovely pots! love the strawberry planters

  14. I loved reading this article. It’s great to see an old pottery from 1878 is still being used and it is still producing enough pots that makes it a very viable business. The pots that are produced from this pottery are beautiful. Even the kiln is a work of art.

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