Inside and out:
There are a lot of very clever things that can be done with plastic. It can be moulded and extruded and coloured and textured. But it can never really look like terracotta. Even though plastic troughs and planters and urns cost a mere fraction of the price of terracotta, it is the genuine article (friable and frost-prone as it may be) that is desirable.

Garden centres often have very reasonable terracotta pots, but the nicest tend to be thrown in Italy or Spain or Greece and are priced accordingly. Try scratching Italia or Espana or a few Greek-looking characters on some visible face of your Sainsbury's Homebase pots to get round this one, if you are desperate. Glazed porcelain is also fine for container gardening, as is stoneware, though once it is installed and filled it weighs a ton and is likely to prove immoveable. Wood containers tend to start looking grotty rather earlier on in their life than would be expected from their price.

Certain rather more original containers, such as old-fashioned metal watering cans, old stone sinks, old chimney pots etc are admired rather than sniggered at, mainly because they are difficult and (unless you happen to have one hanging around) expensive to get hold of. But wacky containers like old boots or (especially) old car tyres turned inside out and planted with geraniums are not going to raise one's garden's standing in the neighbourhood.

Pot selection from S & B Evans & Sons, 7 Ezra Road, London E2 7RH, 0171 729 6635.