Watering Cans

I bought this two gallon (10 litre) galvanised watering can at the closing down sale of a hardware store on Wood Street, Wakefield, c. 1983. It’s a traditional design, the sort that my dad used.

It’s the easiest of all my cans to fill, just leave it under the tap of the water butt. But don’t forget about it and leave it overnight as I did recently, draining what was left in the butt.

This green plastic Ward’s watering can is my current favourite; it’s well-balanced to carry down the garden and free-flowing but easy to control when you’re watering. Not the finest of sprays from the rose, but I don’t have delicate seedlings to water these days, so that”s not a problem.

This 5 litre Haw’s watering can would be the best choice for the gentle watering of seedlings and, with it’s long spout, you’d be able to reach a tray at the back of the bench.

I first become aware of Haw’s watering cans at Kew Gardens in the winter of 1976-77, when I set off to draw tree ferns for a coal forests illustration (detail above).  I’d been looking forward to drawing in tropical warmth but the greenhouses were closed for maintenance, so I stood outside in freezing conditions, drawing the tropical scene.I noticed that the all watering cans dotted about the greenhouse were Haw’s, so I decided that, if they were good enough for Kew, that would be the one that I’d go for.

I bought one in the sale at the hardware store. In those days Haw’s watering cans were metal and this one had been hanging on the display so long that the joint between spout and can had opened enough to allow water to seep out but I filled it with plastic padding and used the can for years. It appears in a sample illustration (left) which I painted when I did some work on Dr Hessayon’s bestselling Garden Expert Guides.

We bought this as a spare can, a bargain from a DIY store or garden centre but it works well: the wavy handle is well-balanced for carrying and for watering.

From a garden gift hamper, this cream-coloured retro metal can is intended to be decorative rather than practical. The rose is soldered to the spout but it works well, giving the plant a gentle dousing.

Finally, we bought this one litre Haw’s plastic watering can for plants on the kitchen windowsill. With that long spout, it’s a slow but precise pourer. The brass and plastic rose produces a gentle spray.

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