There are some planter materials that seem to grab you a bit more than others and Corten steel is definitely one of them for me. I often find myself enthusing over the use of Corten as a striking focal point for a whole manner of planting schemes.
It really is a material to embrace. It belongs to a group of steels which have exceptional corrosion resistance and tensile strength.
Corten Steel is also known as a ‘weathering’ or blue steel. The natural patina the steel acquires is attractive in a way that works so well with stone, wood, and plants.This particular characteristic aesthetic, along with its earthy tonality, acts as the perfect canvas for all manner of plantings schemes, both naturalistic and architectural.
For me personally, the purples of salvia and aquilegia are the perfect sultry complement to the steel’s rust-coloured hues...a real wow factor!
What I find irresistible about Corten steel is that it’s not at all monochromatic. Its subtle shadings give it real depth and a sense of vitality — perhaps a reminder that it is a dynamic and not static material.
One of my favourite design projects was for an outdoor cafe design:
As part of a brief for a natural screening al fresco theme, we were asked to specify planters that combined aesthetic, functional, and sustainable characteristics.
The perfect choice of planter to recommend were Corten planters. We recommended them because they naturally form a beautiful rust-like protective patina coating, will outlast all other natural materials and develop a beautiful rustic finish to perfectly enhance the screening plants, underplanting, and majestic Olive trees.
This picture perfectly sums up my obsession with Corten:
Just look at that patina. Look at the richness of the colours marbling through it and the almost velvety texture. It’s really stunningly beautiful.
So there you have it. I hope that you will all experiment with corten planters and try some of these ideas in your own gardens, and then send me photos so that I can swoon over the results for the rest of my days.
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