Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pot Ghetto

I re-potted this Acer palmatum 'Koto No Ito'  just
because I liked the pot and it was on sale.

The most amazing things to me about A&E’s show, “Hoarders” isn’t the amazing amount of junk that gets collected by people, it’s the amazing number of people they find to feature on the show. 

It's easy to scoff at them but it usually turns out that hoarding is a response to some kind of emotional trauma suffered by the hoarder and letting go of their junk requires them to first deal with the reason why they started their hoarding.  If I hadn’t watched this show, I would have gone on assuming that hoarding is what happens when the average person lets their collecting gene go unchecked. 

I have always allowed my collector gene to manifest itself in whatever manner it felt like.  When I went to the shooting range (i.e. the abandoned gravel quarry in the woods) with my dad and older brothers I shot my BB gun for a little while, but the real fun was collecting my dad’s spent .22 shells and putting them back in the containers they came in.  I collected baseball cards too and eventually filled my room with them.  Then I started collecting books and magazines.  Or at least not getting rid of those I had read.  And for unexplainable reasons I saved toenail clippings in an empty 35mm film canister for a year (or two) in college.  That last bit should probably never have been published because I'm pretty sure that proves I'm a bit off, but I’m willing to admit it here so I can make my point: when I watch "Hoarders" I find myself saying “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” 

Keeping my collections under control is still a struggle for me though.  So a few months ago I decided to read a book called “The Joy of Less.”  The book had a profound impact on the way I viewed the things I have and what gives them value.  It really got me to examine why I keep things like books that I will never read again.  Answer: on the off chance that by having it on my bookshelf a visiting friend will give me +1 in intelligence when they review my belongings to make their assessment of how I live my life.  I know, it’s stupid, but that’s got to be the only reason to hold onto that second copy of "Skinny Legs and All". 

So I’ve been minimizing.  I donated bags full of clothing that doesn’t fit my waistline or my current style.  I finally got to the point where I could recycle CD jewel cases without feeling like I was losing something irretrievable.  And then I threw away about 100,000 worthless baseball cards.  

This was just the first of three great baseball
card purges.

I have made a lot of progress and I have reclaimed some valuable space in my home.  But there is one area where I may have gotten a little worse: my growing “pot ghetto”.  Whoever coined that phrase must have been a poet because it perfectly captures the spirit of any collection of unused pots. 

Pot Pit

My collecting of pots started innocently enough.  My patio takes up a huge portion of my backyard so I started adding pots to it to break up the otherwise nondescript concrete.  One pot wasn’t enough and every good designer knows you can’t have an even number of design elements so two pots wouldn’t suffice either.  Three pots clustered together was a good start but it didn’t leave me enough room to grow a plumeria or some running bamboo that couldn’t be trusted in the ground.  Even numbers still don’t work so four pots wouldn’t suffice – I needed five for sure. And that was just in one corner of the patio.  There was still plenty of surface space that could use some embellishment.  So now I have pots all over the place.  I even have pots that don’t have plants.  They are just collecting cobwebs in my own personal “projects” section of my yard.  

My poor neighbors have to look at this
when they spy on me in my yard.

I justify keeping the extra pots by saying that I can use them to house impromptu plant purchases or for plant divisions or just to mix and match colors as the seasons change.  But the truth is, just like the shirts I donated to GoodWill, my taste in pots keeps changing.  I need bigger pots in newer styles.

The difference is, I haven't been able to bring myself to tear down my pot ghetto and I don't think I ever will.


  1. Your potting ghetto is probably had by so many gardeners. You have a way of zeroing in on things so common to all in such a humorous way. I do not have a pot ghetto at my house anymore as I purged it long ago, but there is worse at the farm. There is a very large potting shed, actually a barn, filled to the roof with pots.Filled so you can barely enter the building. Not pretty pots either, but those your annuals and perennials come in from the nursery. Now why the workers keep them I do not know. They never reuse them since all potting is done in the field with the trees and shrubs in grower's pots. Well to make a long comment short, I am the only one that uses the pots for plant sales and am glad they hoard the heck out of them. It keeps my garage tidy.

  2. Those plastic nursery pots do pose another problem. From what I understand, a lot of recycling companies don't have the ability to process them or it isn't economically feasible for them to do so. I hate to just throw them in the trash though. I have heard that some nurseries will take them back but I haven't found any in my area that do.

  3. I'm lucky. My husband will occasionally throw away all my extra pots. Then I have to replace them! Of course, like you say, tastes change, so I always get a different style/size, etc. I tell him that I have to keep replacing the pots he throws away, but we both know I would just keep buying them anyway, so it's best he throws them away. I would hate to be on Hoarders!

  4. Extra pots? Are you kidding? There is NO such thing! It just means you haven't finished filling them. Go get more plants, man! You have pots to fill!!

  5. Holley, you've got it made it sounds like. My wife wouldn't dare throw away a pot . . . maybe I should let her know that it wouldn't be so bad if she happened to do that.

    Casa - I like you're way of thinking.

  6. Hi Chad...thanks for popping into my blog. Yours was the first blog I found in blotanical that I really loved. I really only put my favorites on my blog and I put you right on. I am a blog addict, and I spend at least two hours a day (I'm a night owl) reading postings and looking for fun new blogs. Thank you for doing what you do so darned well. I'll be watching you!! :-)

  7. Chad, I've been reading your blog for a while this morning, as I just found it. Well I like the way you write and the pregnant squirrel post really made me laugh very loudly. Luckily I was on my own. Alberto.

  8. Sometimes I think we are teetering on the edge of being hoarders because we also have a hard time letting go of things. I, too, love books and always think I will get around to reading them again. More recently, I have found all these things a bit tiresome and have been getting rid of a lot. I hope we can find the balance. It seems you are finding your balance...great job!

  9. I have a couple of those areas ha-ha-ha! I guess I need to take a hint and find a bit of balance... Then ago procrastination is biting at my ankles... Kudos to those who can free themselves of items that are ready to be recycled...

  10. Okay. I wanted to say something about pot hoarding, but I just can't get by the toenail clippings comment. Maybe my collection of old rusted worn-out pruners, loppers, and shears isn't so bad after all, sitting right next to my pile of broken pots that I never know when I might need again. I do have a lot of pots, but 99% of them are full of plants (Thank you, Casa Mariposa) -- well, the ones that haven't fried in our awfully hot summer. Toenail clippings? Really? You did that?!

  11. Toni - I really did keep nail clippings . . . and I can't really believe it myself either.

    I once saw someone use terra cotta shards as a mulch for a small bed. Maybe you could do something like that with your broken pots?