How does the saying go? Just when you're not looking, some of the best things appear? Today, for me, it was the work of Phoenix-based ceramic artist Mike Cone that captured my eye.
It's a beautiful day here - the kind with a certain 'holy trinity' of blue sky, crisp air and golden sun that almost physically propels a garden lover straight to the nursery. Gardening is tricky in the desert. We have two growing seasons - spring, which is usually cut short by the searing hot temps of summer; and fall, which is challenging in itself because you can't start too early for fear of that much-loved-elsewhere Indian Summer, and you can't start too late, because cold nights and winter (albeit mild) are on the horizon. So when the weather is like this, gardeners across the valley come out of summer hiding and deliriously start digging in the dirt.
But I digress. I was out and about this morning and I decided to swing by Baker's Nursery to simply take in the green-ness and of course look at their herb starts to see if there is anything that I "needed," when I rounded a corner and found the most striking array of hand-built pottery that made my heart sing. I asked the first garden-guy I saw - who is making these incredible pots? He said Mike Cone - and I thought, easy to remember, like Cone 10 clay.
Cone's high-fire stoneware vessels range in size and shape, some are footed and others sit low and horizontal. The unifying repetition of shapes, the 3-dimensionality and undulating forms is what I immediately found appealing. And the cactus green, sunshine yellow and apple red glaze colors set against the natural clay sealed the deal. I selected a small, undoubtedly-Saguaro-inspired pot, and brought it home. I'm not sure what I'm going to put in it - it's almost too interesting in itself to muddy the lines with greenery - but I'm sure the right plant will make itself known (just when I'm not looking for it).
You can see more of Mike Cone's functional pots and sculptural work on his website, and read more in Horticulture magazine and the LA Times.