Debra Prinzing

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Articles • Connect the spots

Connect the spots

Like fluid ribbons of color, Mediterranean-style clay pots connect a garden's many spaces

By Debra Prinzing | Produced by Debra Prinzing and Scott Johnson | Photographed by Laurie Black

Better Homes & Gardens | August 2013

Lots of Pots

In Susann Schwiesow’s Bellingham garden, pots and other terracotta objects unify with a common design language.


Phormium in Pot

Terra cotta-colored foliage and flowers — a New Zealand flax and an annual called Diascia, reinforce the color scheme.

You’d think that a lot of containers could clutter up a place, but that’s not the case in Susann and Gale Schwiesow’s Pacific Northwest garden, where no fewer than 175 pots of mostly gold and green foliage plants, including clipped boxwood balls, connects four distinct outdoor rooms and draw the eye through the landscape.

Susann, partner in Schwiesow Drilias, a residential landscape firm in Bellingham, Wash., uses mostly terra cotta pottery and many shades of green foliage to give her garden a common design language.

The relationship between one area of the garden and each adjacent outdoor space relies on Susann’s artistry and use of color, especially evident in her selection of apricot and coral flowers and foliage plants to echo the clay pots.

Terra cotta containers populate the home’s front steps, line the patio’s edge and are grouped informally on several terraces. Widely varied, the pots are planted with dwarf evergreens, succulents, tropicals and other lush, heat-loving varieties.

“I like repetition,” Susann says. “It carries your eye around the garden. Each space has a focal point, which leads you from one garden room to the next.” 

Container style

Front Patio

Grouping pots for impact is the key to this cohesive vignette on the front patio.

The intimate look and feel of Susann’s patio relies on the successful way she places her many pots. Follow her design tips to create your own potted landscape:

Connecting spaces


Pots mark transitions to help people navigate the landscape, as shown here on the stone staircase.

Each of Susann and Gale’s garden rooms is a special destination where they gather to observe the garden and enjoy a little R&R. Susann uses several easy techniques to tie one to the next.