Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I was recently introduced to the Japanese concept of Kintsugi, which is defined on Wikipedia as "the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise." It seemed singularly appropriate that I would learn of this concept right after having acquired a lovely broken pot, via Loree of Danger Garden. I think I may have mentioned that I picked it up at the Portland Garden Bloggers Plant Exchange, which I wrote about here.

A couple of weeks before the exchange Loree emailed me to ask if I wanted a broken pot, and of course I said "Yes!" This pot was a birthday gift from Loree's husband some years back, and had significance to her. She wanted to see it re-used, and considered trying to repair it herself. I'm so glad she thought of offering it to me instead. I'm enthusiastically in favor of repurposing used or broken items. I considered burying it halfway with plants "spilling" out of it, an idea that I've Pinned on Pinterest numerous times. Or maybe I could use it as an element in my recycled broken concrete wall, like this. But that would have entailed tearing apart a small section of my expertly constructed wall, and I didn't think I was up to that. I knew one thing I wouldn't do with it. I wouldn't use it to make a fairy garden, and not because Loree threatened to come up here with a robotic Godzilla and stomp it if I did. Fairy gardens don't really appeal to me.

I had recently seen another idea, which entailed simply using the pot as a container, with the broken pieces shoring up the soil, like this and this and this. I liked the prospect of making no effort to hide the fact that the pot was broken.

Celebrate the brokenness. We all have something broken in our lives, right? Perfection is over-rated.

Loree sent me a collage of photos of her broken pot, and I could see that with the back of it intact, it was just what I needed.

Once I had it, I made a survey of the pieces, and tried to think how I would put them together so that the pot would still hold soil, yet not be "fixed." It quickly became clear that I would need to at least glue two of the edge pieces to the shards that had broken off them. So I used some 100% silicone glue to put them back together. (Unfortunately I had no gold or silver dust to add to the glue.)

Watching glue dry

Given how precarious it might end up being, I knew the pot would need a stable base in the bed where it would reside. I dug a hole, added a layer of gravel, then on top of the gravel I put a stepping stone, and then placed the pot on top of that.

I needed Nigel's help moving the broken pot into place, that sucker is heavy!

Then I started working on putting the pieces in place in a way that it would still hold soil.

Not quite right


A couple of Sempervivums tucked in

I had no gold or silver dust to add to the glue, but I did have a stash of old jewelry and jewelry-making supplies. This green stone necklace looks good hanging over the edge of one of the broken shards.

Some little rooted pieces of Sedum 'Angelina' hopefully will look a bit less limp once they get a little water

I had bought a rock and some gravel accents at Petco (actually for use in the bottom of aquariums)

Too bright!

Just right

The blue-ish rock accents weren't quite enough to act as gravel mulch for the entire pot, so I added some aquarium gravel from another bag that I use to mulch the tops of small containers, and then scattered the blue stones throughout.
I planted an Agave havardiana in the top tier. You knew it had to have an Agave in it, right?

This one is just a pup, but one day it will grow up into a nice big Mama plant. It has to, because this pot has Danger Garden juju.

An old earring of my mother's

I added a couple of amethyst stones that came from my son's old rock collection

Another old earring

It was essential that this container be planted with hardy succulents, because unlike many of my others, I can't move it into and out of the greenhouse.

Sedum ternatum 'Larinem Park'

 A few little tweaks, and almost done.

I moved the necklace with the green stone to a lower level

And replaced it with another one with a red/purple stone in an art deco setting

Finished? Not quite...

The aquarium rock fits into the color scheme now

The place of brokenness in the Big Picture

What do you do with your broken pots?


  1. Grand piece. I enjoyed the evolution of the planting and placement of the deco items and rocks. I suspect that when you are not about, fairies dance among the stones.

  2. What a cool idea! I have some broken ceramic pots that are begging for such a treatment.

  3. What a great idea. I love the use of the jewelry -- that one with the red in the stone is a nice color echo to the succulents it was placed by. Very nice accent in the garden.

  4. I am impressed! Alison, you can start your new business now - there are so many broken pots around!

  5. That's so cool and it looks awesome in your garden. It's the best broken pot garden I've seen. Of course, I've pinned it!

  6. Loree called. She wants her pot back.

  7. This was such a fun post to read Alison, I'm so glad you came up with a re-use of that container. What you've created really fits your garden and style well, and of course I LOVE that you included an agave, thank you!

  8. Alison you are the bomb. That is amazing. I love it. Would you believe I just took a hammer to two large terra cotta pots that were damaged by the winter cold? I should have read your post first. You did a fabulous job with this.

  9. I've pinned some of those broken pot photos too but I've yet to try constructing anything - mainly because I've broken my damaged pots up to use the shards in a failed effort to raccoon-proof part of my garden. You did a great job with your construction. The agave is a perfect touch but the inclusion of old jewelry was inspired too!

  10. You bring a new slant to the old Yogi Berra quote "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

  11. What fun to watch the process, and a great final result!

  12. What a great idea, Alison - I had to laugh, because just last week, a client gave me a broken pot which I'm gluing together this weekend. Or, just maybe I won't...

  13. What a great idea to celebrate the brokenness! I usually just glue mine back together but this is a wonderful treatment! I like all the thought that went into each part of your creation!

  14. Loved your put together pot. It's not broken at all. :) Good to see you today!

  15. I try to fix them or I use them as toad houses in the garden. But this is the best idea ever and I love it! Your pot looks just fabulous! I may have to borrow this idea. :o)

  16. That's very creative Alison, the pot's been reincarnated!

  17. That is the coolest project! Bravo Alison and what a fun post, to follow your process.

  18. It would be worth smashing a pot up just to create something like this Alison, it's incredible!
    I love the old jewelry, stone and plant choice. Well done.

  19. That really turned out to be a lovely piece. I think it is way full of memories now with the jewelry. Thanks again for reading! from

  20. That turned out great! I've seen a few broken pots used this way and love them. It would be a great use for those chipped or cracked pots you find on sale at garden centers.

  21. A great post. How ingenious, I would never have thought of doing that and I don' t know that I would have the patience. It looks great and perfect for succulents. You are a clever girl.


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