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Catalog Data

Metal, enamel
Body: 13 1/2 × 11 1/4 × 8 1/2 in. (34.3 × 28.6 × 21.6 cm)
Overall width: 17 in. (43.2 cm)
Watering cans
Late nineteenth century
White enamel watering can. The body of the can is oblong and has an applied handle, spout, and hinged lid. The lid has a flower motif on it and a handle.
Label Text:
Water is a necessity when maintaining plant life, thus watering cans were vital to the Victorian garden. Before irrigation systems with water on tap, watering cans were essential to the transport and supply water to plants in the home, garden, and professional greenhouses. Indoor gardening was an extremely popular pastime throughout the nineteenth century, and watering cans were vital to the successful cultivation of plants indoors because these plants did not have the benefit of water coming from precipitation. Until the 1870s, water on tap was still considered a luxury for many people, and municipal water had only become available in the 1830s. People often relied on rain-water barrels, ponds, streams, and wells to gather water for their gardens, and this was one of the biggest chores without convenient taps or running water. There were a variety of watering cans available to the Victorian gardener. Pots with long spouts were used for plants on shelves, finely perforated spouts and French pots which had zigzag bends in the spout were used to break the force of the water as it fell on plants to resemble rain, small, flat cans were used for watering plants in corners and small spaces, and long spouted watering cans were available to water plants on shelves.
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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