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Catalog Data

Cast iron
44 × 25 1/2 in. (111.8 × 64.8 cm)
Rococo Revival
Plant stands
ca. 1850-1900
Victorian (1837-1901)
Plant stand with eight arms and top dish made of cast iron. The base is ornate and low to the ground with four feet. It supports a central pole, terminating in pierced basket-like cup. Like the upper most dish, the cups at the end of each arm are meant to hold a small potted plant. They are pierced, which allowed for water drainage from rain or hand-watering the plants. There are nine arms attached to the pole that can move vertically up the post and rotate around the central axis. The length of the arms and diameter of cups gradually decrease in size as they are placed higher up the pole. This allowed the gardener to organize the plants so that each would have access to light, while taking up the least room.
Label Text:
Since ancient Egyptian times, containers for plants, flowers, herbs, and edible plants have evolved according to the needs, fashions, and technology of the time. Through the centuries, these vessels have influenced the horticultural and aesthetic role of plants, and allowed for their cultivation, transportation, and display. The Industrial Revolution in the 1800s brought mechanization and mass production techniques that allowed a variety of eclectic plant containers to be produced cheaply and efficiently. Cast-iron, china, terra cotta, and wooden plant containers were readily available in variety of styles and sizes. These containers were placed both indoors and in the garden. With a long historical tradition of designs and styles of containers to draw on in the nineteenth century, Victorians grew their plants in a diverse collection of containers depending on the family’s income and taste.
Planters and plant stands, also called jardinières, were used for growing and displaying live plants, flowers, herbs, or edible plants. They came in a wide range of dimensions and materials and could be highly decorative or plain and unpretentious. Plants stands were often placed on porches and verandahs, where they provided transition between house and garden. These stands were also found throughout the home, bringing nature indoors and adding color and scents to the room. Depending on their size, design, and placement planters acted as simple accessories or principal features. These qualities appealed to the moderate budget of the middle class, who wanted to ornament their gardens but could not afford large, heavy sculptures of marble and lead. Often times, undecorated, utilitarian pots of plants or flowers were placed inside the jardinière and hidden under a carpet of moss, which also provided moisture to the plant and protected the roots from being scorched in bright lights.
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Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens