garden can and fireplace

Beau, the most mischievous of my three cats, decided to jump to the top of the cabinets in the garage and view his surroundings. He is also a handsome guy, so I took his picture. In my attempt to get him down I got a close look at the galvanized watering can collection displayed on top of the cabinets. I have four metal cans and use one in the garden all summer for watering potted plants. The others serve as decorative objects. Because I was up high on a step stool and Beau obliged by jumping down, I decided to bring the old can with some dried material into the house. 

The Barberry shrub outside along the fence is in its prime fall coloration so I snipped some branches from it and added them to the dried material in the watering can and now have a colorful fireplace decoration. This would look great as an outdoor entryway decoration too. Gourds and small pumpkins would enhance the display.

The look and feel of a watering can is appealing. The architectural shape of the handle, spout and the rose (spray nozzle) combine to make a utilitarian watering can look like a sculpture.

Watering cans have been used since the 17th century and have seen improvements through the years. Now-a-days, plastic cans are readily available. I’ve read that purists prefer metal watering cans for longevity and eye appeal; but practical gardeners like plastic versions because they are lighter, less expensive and rustproof.

A two to three-gallon can is the best size for outdoor use. The handle should be smooth and comfortable. A second handle on the side helps to tilt a full can without causing arm or hand strain. A removable rose, which is the name for the perforated nozzle, is a necessity for me as leaves and debris can get in the can and into the rose — hindering the water flow. The top opening should be large enough to be able to fill the can easily from a spigot or hose. The gentle shower from the rose is perfect for watering seedlings and irrigating new beds for planting.

Watering cans will always be popular for the personal touch they bring to gardening. Inspecting plants when watering them gets you close enough to be able to check for disease and insect infestations; inhale the aroma; and appreciate their beauty up close.

Fall watering of newly planted flowers and shrubs is needed for their survival through the winter. It is a task I enjoy and Beau is usually right by my side scampering through the leaves and generally trying to get my full attention as he preens and plays with anything that moves.

Sharon Quale is a master gardener from central Minnesota. She may be reached at (218) 738-6060 or