The word jardiniere, meaning a ceramic vessel for plants or cut flowers, comes from the French word for gardener. Jardinieres have been popular in the western world at least since the 17th century, when wealthy Europeans decorated their estates with ceramic planters made from Chinese blue-and-white export porcelain and Italian majolica crafted by potteries like Capodimonte. Far-eastern influences remained popular for jardinieres, as evidenced by the elaborate Japanese-influenced patterns sold during the 19th century by venerable companies like Wedgwood.
Across the pond, the American pottery industry began marketing its own versions of these European vessels, though often in more modernist forms. Ohio-based Roseville produced many jardinieres featuring floral motifs and classical-sculpture forms, including some decorated in its distinctive blended glazes. Roseville also designed more straightforward shapes like those in its Opac Enamels or Antique Green Matt series.
McCoy, one of Roseville’s nearby rivals, sold several styles of planters beginning in the early 20th century, including many jardinieres with matching pedestals. Besides those decorated with molded or painted floral designs, McCoy also adopted design trends like Art Deco and Mid-Century Modernism to its planters, as well as kitschier animal shapes in the 1940s and '50s.
Meanwhile, many established California potteries like Bauer and Batchelder were making sculptural planters. Yet the most iconic jardiniere of the mid-century era is probably the bullet planter, featuring an oblong fiberglass pot on a tripod stand, a space-age form whose original designer is unknown since it was never patented.