I've found many ways to convert found objects into plant containers (flour sifters, wine boxes, portable BBQs...), but I don't think I've ever tried making my own container "from scratch." That is, until I read Concrete Garden Projects. Though the book isn't limited to containers, authors Malin and Camilla also have ideas for making your own built in BBQ tables, potting tables, water fountains, and more.
The majority of the book is filled with "inspiration," lots of different ideas to get your creative juices flowing. The authors introduce the concrete object, give you a brief overview of how to make it, tips for customizing it, and ideas on how the piece will weather outdoors. Each idea is accompanied by at least one large, beautiful photo. Many of the author's ideas have several photos or a two-page spread. They also share different techniques for adding texture, color, or embedding little treasures in your concrete creations.
The last quarter of the book shows you how to work with concrete to make the ideas in the first part of the book. The "how to" section has lots of step-by-step photos to help you understand how to complete each project.
I am definitely going to make the shoe scraper door mat. I've long needed something near the door from my balcony into the condo, but I could never find something the right size. Now I can make one that is to my own specifications. Of course, I also plan on making several of the different pot ideas, as well as some stepping stones for my work garden. It's hard to keep the list of projects I want to try from the book realistic (unless I want to dedicate every weekend of 2012 to concrete casting-which is sounding better and better). I really like several of the bird bath ideas and the modernist bench. The tea lights are cute, as are the tic-tac-toe board and hanging garden ornament. Ugh. See why I'm already blocking out weekends in 2012?!
All-in-all, this is a great book. I have only two tiny quibbles. The authors recommend making holes in containers meant for plants, but suggest that it's possible to create a pot without a drainage hole and merely put some clay balls in the bottom to keep the plants in the pot from rotting. In my opinion, all pots must have drainage holes unless they are the self watering variety. My second gripe-and again, these are such minor issues-is that there is a photo with a hens-and-chick (Sempervivum) succulent cutting floating in a bird bath. It looked adorable, but why would anyone float a drought tolerant plant in water?
Anyway, don't let these two little complaints from me prevent you from enjoying this book, I'm just trying to keep it real. I know my copy will be well used and probably covered in flecks of concrete.