My Little Orange Watering Can

My little orange watering can doesn’t look like much of a watering can at first glance.

It’s small and rusty on the inside, with a few dents on the outside. But that’s okay because I don’t use it for watering plants.

I use it for remembering.

Like rubbing Aladdin’s lamp to make a wish, I can hold my little orange watering can and be magically transported back to another time and place, to my grandmother’s house in the late 1960’s.

It has this magical affect because this little orange watering can was once Grandma's watering can and around the time she passed away in 1972, someone gave it to me. Or maybe I saw it when my Mom and my aunt were cleaning out all the stuff Grandma had accumulated after living for 50 years in the same house, and I asked if I could have it.

Either way, given or taken, it came to be my little orange watering can.

My little orange watering can reminds me of African violets, because my Grandma had African violets, lined up in her dining room window. She probably never bought any of them, but instead rooted them from leaf cuttings she got from friends and relatives.

I used to have some African violets, too, but sadly, after years of battling a mealybug infestation, I finally had to take the drastic step of throwing them all out earlier this fall. I wouldn’t wish a mealybug infestation on my worst enemy!

Now that I think I’ve gotten rid of those little cottony beasts, I want to get some more African violets this winter, but not too many. But instead of buying them, I want to start my new African violets the old-fashioned way, from leaf cuttings, like my Grandma would have done. And maybe I’ll water them once or twice with my little orange watering can.

In addition to helping me remember to always have a few African violets, my little orange watering can also helps me remember the flowers and trees in my Grandma’s back yard. I remember the long ‘cigar like’ seed pods of the catalpa tree and wanting to always take some home with us. I remember overhearing Grandma talk about possibly getting into trouble because of the big ‘stink tree’ growing back by the alley, since it was supposedly illegal to knowingly grow them in the city.

I remember going to visit her on Sundays in the spring and picking bouquets of Lily of the Valley and wild violets, which she put in little vases on her dining room buffet. She had other flowers, too, like spiderworts, mums, and money plants, that were easily shared as passalong plants.

And I remember there was a large snowball bush in her back yard that was always white with large balls of blooms in the spring and some old fashioned spirea that bloomed by the front porch and a place in the back where there had once been a small fish pond…

Now do you see why I keep my little orange watering can?


  1. Wonderful loving post to your grandmother. I don't think I could write one like it without sobbing. But, I, too, have a watering can like that. Its copper, and from my mother-in-law. Thanks.

  2. lovely post, Carol, and I love that can. I would totally use it.

  3. You've got a nice can Carol. But I bet you hear that often.

  4. What lovely memories of your grandmother and her flowers. I don't have my grandmother's watering can but I do have her pair of tiny vases the perfect size for violets. I would never eradicate violets from the lawn because then I couldn't get the vases out, fill them with violets and spark my memory — the way you just did with this post! Thanks.

  5. So it's not just Ruth's watering can, Carol, but is really a little orange time-machine, ready to take you back for visits to your childhood? I like the mid-century roundness and hot orange color ;-]

    What a nice memento and what a sweet post you wrote. Long may the violets and lilies of the valley grow!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    The verification word is flinguai. Sounds like an alternate chorus for The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

  6. Carol - what a sweet post on your lovely grandmother, her African violets (we share this memory) and Lilies of the Valley. Such wonderful times gone by and so nice of you to share them with us. I was thinking of you today, and your sage advice, so I sent you a little link love! Have you had some snow this week? We're coming on Tuesday - my daughter would love to see some.

  7. Carol, isn't it wonderful the memories a little watering can brings to mind? And aren't you glad to have it with you. Your grandmother sounds like a lovely person, one who instilled the love of gardening in you.

    I was thinking about you and your viloets the other day. I was debating wether to show my blooming violets for next bloom day. I remembered you saying something about having one violet for each 10 years of your life or something like that and wanted to credi you. Where and when did you say that? If you wait til spring fling, I'll share some cuttings with you.

  8. What a lovely post in your Grandmothers memory Carol. You are lucky to have that orange watering can. You can also add to your memory that your Grandmother wasn't afraid of color. What a cheerful spot of color to have in the house to evoke those memories.

    I think it odd that the word verification is 'sading'. This post is the opposite. It is 'happying'.

  9. How wonderful that you have something of your grandma's garden to treasure and & happy memories to go with it. The only garden-related thing I got from my grandma after she died was her old garden donkey statue (the cart had long ago disappeared). Unfortunately, the old donkey crumbled to bits a few years later.

  10. What would we do without our wonderful grandmothers to help us along. Someday, I hope my (unborn) grandchildren will have such memories of me. Stink tree? Was that the catalpa or another tree?~~Dee

  11. The de-cluttering experts say that there's always one item you own that will bring back the memory of a loved one more than other items...maybe this is the item of yours that brings back the most vivid memories of your Grandma? Even so, I think I'd keep that can around too -it's so cute and vibrant!

  12. It is a great little water can and orange is the perfect color! I have a few things from my grandmother that I treasure, too.

  13. I love seeing how we pass our interests down to grandchildren...your grandma would be proud of you!

  14. What a treasure! That's a quintessentially 70s color, too.

  15. I love that watering can and the memories it gives you. My grandmother had violets at one of the places she lived. I remember thinking they were so pretty, and I have some here and there in my vegetable garden. I eat the leaves and flowers in the spring. I have decided I need to pull some out for the compost each year, though, to keep them under control.

  16. What a lovely tribute. I think I'll see what my mother has done with her watering can next time I'm in Kentucky.

  17. Having memories of your grandmother like this makes your orange watering can very special. As I read this, Carol, it brought back memories of my own Grandma in the garden. I spent more time with her in the kitchen, though; I don't have any garden-related mementoes, but I have a couple of her dishes. Every time I use them, I think of her.

    I can see now that gardening is in your genes.

  18. Cute watering can, indeed, and beautiful memories tied to it...
    memories that bring to your heart the very warmth and sunshine of the rainbow itself....

    Have a blessed day


  19. I don't remember the watering can, but I do remember the other stuff. My time machine is Grandma's China Cabinet

    The little sister


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