Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Watering



At the Fountain, c. 1890, Theodore Robinson* (1852-1896)


Watering is not my favorite garden job.

I can never make it through unscathed. A simple procedure, such as moving the oscillating sprinkler into the center of the blue perennial border, will seem to be going well--when suddenly the hose arcs and strikes my shins, leaving a swath of mud on my pants just above the tops of my rubber boots.

I'm not as dumb as I look, and I finally realized there wasn't any point in doing "just a little bit" of morning watering in clothes I planned to wear into the world. It's one thing to visit Prospectors Nursery bedecked in mud, but agrarian-chic hasn't caught on in other venues.

Nevada County dirt is red and indelible. I'm an excellent laundress, but am defeated by local mud stains, so a new streak of mud is a sadly permanent addition to my wardrobe.

Pass me my watering can instead of a hose, though, and I'm as happy as a child with a favorite toy. I have an old-fashioned Haws galvanized-steel watering can, and using it makes me feel like the girl in the painting.

Time out from the 21st century. Time out from worrying about droughts or global warming. I'm focusing on the fine waterfall from the rose at the tip of the spout, concentrating on the balance of the can in my hand, admiring the plant I'm watering, and remembering why I chose it. Often a butterfly wafts past. The can is wet and I get a swipe of red mud on my pants. That's fine. Nothing can break my mood.

Watering is my favorite garden job--when I have a metal can in my hand.



*Theodore Robinson, an American Impressionist, lived next door to his friend Claude Monet in Giverny, France. This painting is in the collection of The Arkell Museum, Canajoharie, New York.


© Daffodil Planter 2009. All rights reserved.

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17 comments:

Tessa at Blunders with shoots, blossoms 'n roots said...

Definitely a girl after my own heart! I have been wanting a Haws for a long, long time. I've never quite found one with the right 'character' if you know what I mean- it has to be just right (price helps too :). I'm very serious about this, really! The character it has is the most important thing :)!

Jenny said...

Isn't it funny how a garden hose can suddenly turn into a boa constrictor (or python, or whatever)? Problem I have right now is that my hose is itself dirty, so when I handle it, I get dirty too! However, I must admit that I do like the multifaceted nozzle that I have attached to it (Jet-Spray-Shower-etc.). But there is nothing like a watering can with many little perforations that let the water gently pass through. I've always felt a bit as though I was playing God when I was watering ("I hereby bestow life upon you"). Hope I haven't offended anybody.

Daffodil Planter said...

Tessa, The twin essentials in a watering can: character and function! Someday he'll come along, the can you love....

Jenny, The dirty hose wrapping around your ankles bothers you? Absolutely. Snakey, muddy, but certainly effective, especially with those spray wands. I'll think of you as the Goddess of the Gentle Rain, with your can in hand.

Daffodil Planter said...

From Geoffrey: Those watering cans could be a prop for a meditation retreat; there's just no way to rush the gentle little sprinkle that falls from the spout. I confess: more than once, I have upended the can and dumped the remaining water on the plants when I couldn't stand it any longer - but I feel a pang of guilt when I do, and know that I should simply have let my mind wander and let the can empty on its own leisurely schedule ....

Darla said...

We all seem to agree with you. I find myself sprinkler challenged at times too!

Susan Morrison said...

No problems with watering, as the smart ET irrigation controller I installed last year seems to be working fine with no second guessing from me. My version of muddy shins is neon landscape paint. Every time I pop open a can at a job site, I manage to spray a stripe on at least one foot, yet I continue to be certain that the next time I won't drip, drop or otherwise misfire the damn thing. And garden design isn't exactly a profession that allows for dressing up, so cute tennis shoes and trashy jewelry are really all I've got to make a fashion statement with.

So unlike you, Daffodil, I AM as dumb as I look.

P.S. Am posting from my Google profile as typepaed is all screwed up.

P.P.S. Hope swearing is allowed on your blog.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

This was a very cute post. I also like watering with a can a lot of the time. I like the way the water sprinkles down onto the plants.~~Dee

Maranta said...

The watering can becomes more of a chore when it's the only option, i.e. when all of your garden is in containers and out of hose range so "watering" entails a good 40 minutes of trekking back and forth from your kitchen faucet to your back patio. But then, I have a cheap, soulless plastic watering can so perhaps the perceived chore stems from a deep dissatisfaction of the tool at hand. Maybe a pretty metal can with a rose spout is just the change I need in my life.

tina said...

Give me a hose anyday:) The problem with watering here is the expense. Those hoses pump out a lot of water. I have vowed to only use a water can this year. Should be less water for sure.

EB said...

I agree with those who prefer using a can. I haven't used a sprinkler for 5 years and I use a hose only very rarely, mainly for the vegetables. I rationalise it for them by saying that if we bought vegetables, they would probably have been irrigated anyway. I feel very badly about wastage of water.

Daffodil Planter said...

Geoffrey, You're right, watering with the can keeps one in the moment.

Darla, Sprinklers are great, but I need a mud-colored jumpsuit to wear while positioning them.

Susan, I'm glad to know there are garden accidents that I will never have to perpetrate!

Welcome Dee! It's just plain fun to water with a can (for small areas).

Daffodil Planter said...

Maranta, Your watering routine sounds frustrating. I don't think even a Haws can would make that a delight--but start looking at them!

Tina, There's no perfect solution, is there? Hoses are so efficient but they lash around. Cans are charming, but it takes forever. We'll all be watching water use this summer, that's for sure.

EB, No sprinkler at all? How often does it rain in an English summer?

peoniesinthesnow said...

Your posts are always so funny. The comments are fun to read as well. I have a "souless green plastic can" My hose problem is it kinks just when you get to where you need to be. I think your Haws may be the way!

Sadge said...

I use soaker hoses, and have a Rube Goldberg set-up of various hoses snaked about, valved Y's, and 4-way manifolds to get water where I want it to gon with a minimum of hose-hauling. I also finally found a galvinized watering can with a fine enough rose for spot watering when I'm caring for a new plant. I cut the spout of my souless green plastic watering can short (is it still a can if it's plastic?) and now use it to fill my finch sock feeder in the winter.

Sadge said...

I use soaker hoses, along with a Rube Goldberg set-up of hoses snaked about, valved Y's, and 4-way manifolds to get water where I want it to go. I also finally found a nice galvinized can with a fine-enough rose to use when I'm babying a new plant. I cut the spout shorter on my souless plastic can (is it still a can if it's plastic?) and now use it to fill my finch sock feeder in the winter.

Daffodil Planter said...

Peoniesinthesnow, I think my blog is here just so the commentators can display their wit! Ditch that can, ASAP!

Welcome Sadge! Wow, I don't even know what a 4-way manifold is. But if it means less hose-dragging, then I'll go find out. I think you've come up with a new Zen koan: "Is a plastic watering can still a can?"

Carol said...

Love the illustration! I confess to loving a good hose. I simply love the sound and being able to wash off my plants in the garden. To water freshly planted transplants and ... to truly soak them ... after working hard in the garden it is a pleasure to water sometimes with a glass of refreshing wine. I have had hummingbirds fly into the water and other fun encounters with wildlife. I know it is not as efficient as drip hose irrigation but I love being with my garden this way. Now a good watering can is a joy too but my poor back has a hard time lifting and often too far to carry.