Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print and online media. She has worked on Newsday's interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is Deputy Editor overseeing's Lifestyle and Entertainment coverage. Jessica enjoys toiling in her garden -- a never-finished work in progress -- and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her Garden Detective column, which appears every Sunday in Newsday. Her Garden Detective column and blog have been awarded Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Jessica lives in Glen Head, NY, with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Miguel, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds. Ask a question Show More

As I browsed through the myriad garden catalogs piling up on the horizontal filing cabinet that doubles as my dining room table, looking for interesting new plants and products, the exorbitant price of some new planters really made an impression.

A shabby-chic whitewashed terra-cotta pot -- just 6 inches in diameter -- was being peddled for $68. A "handcrafted" painted number (admittedly very pretty) was going for $89.

So this puts me in an awkward position: I don't want to spend that much for glorified terra-cotta, but I don't want to settle for ho-hum clay pots, either. What's more, I certainly don't have time to painstakingly handcraft anything, and I'm guessing you don't, either.

But Natalie over at showed me that I can save a bunch of money and make some real lookers in less than the time it would take to drive to the garden center or boot up my computer for an online shopping spree. Here are three of my favorites.

The boring before: an 8 1/4 inch pot ($2.98 at Home Depot)

Ombre pot

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Ombre, the fading of one color into another, is most evident these days on the heads of young girls and celebrities. When it's brown fading into blonde at the ends, it looks like someone is in desperate need of a root touch-up. When it's a natural color of any shade fading into, say, magenta or green, it's clear this was deliberate. When it's on a planter, it's expensive. But not if you make it yourself.

Using three somewhat related shades of spray paint, spritz the top and bottom of the pot with two different colors, all the way around. When dry, hold the pot at the top rim and slowly rotate as you spray the middle with the third color. (If you don't like the result, no harm done: Just let it dry and start over.)

Twine pot

Twine lends an earthy, rustic vibe to planters. Step one: Hold pot. Step two: Glue the twine on. Step three: Done. (Natalie recommends using Gorilla glue because glue-gun glue tends to melt in the sun, but if you're making this for indoor use, use whatever adhesive you want.)

Distressed whitewashed pot

Dip a very damp rag into white latex paint. Rub the rag in straight lines around the pot in an advancing spiral from top to bottom (or bottom to top). Immediately apply a second layer. Allow to dry, then -- here's the fun part -- rub a handful of soil over the paint.

Garden club of the week

American Rhododendron SocietyMeets:MonthlyLocation: Planting Fields Arboretum

Dues: $40 annually

Contact: 631-689-9498,

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The Long Island-based New York chapter of the national society aims to encourage interest in and share knowledge about rhododendrons and azaleas through education, publications, scientific studies, research, meetings (September-May) and other activities. Members participate in seed exchanges, tour local gardens, participate in plant sales, volunteer for various group initiatives, hold an annual flower show and attend an annual convention.