Watering Can Roses and Other Parts

According to William Bryant Logan in "The Tool Book",

"The watering can looks like an ancient tool, but the first mention of it in the Oxford English Dictionary dates only from 1692. More than a decade later, a garden writer was still compelled to explain just what the tool was: "It imitates the rain falling from the Heavens," he noted. "When being bended down it spouts forth water thro' a thousand holes, in a sort of Head that's made to it.""

Can you imagine having to be told how to use a watering can? Now over 300 years later, I think most of us gardeners "get it" when it comes to watering cans and based on the ongoing watering can census, we aren't shy about owning more than one.

We also know that the "Head that's made to it" is actually called a "rose".

What are the other parts of a watering can called?

I could not find a reference to name the various parts of a watering can, so I decided to provide a diagram with all the parts labeled.

Spout, spout brace, carrying handle, pouring handle, cover, vessel... yawn, that all seems pretty obvious and boring. And those part names don't really seem to go with the idea of a 'rose', the true business end of a watering can.

So finding no other references to explain watering cans any differently, I've decided to take some liberties, and name the parts of a watering can so they'll match "rose".Now we have:

Xylem, instead of spout for the part the water flows through.

Root instead of brace, because a root really braces a plant in the ground.

Tendril instead of carrying handle and limb instead of pouring handle.

Canopy instead of cover.


Melon instead of vessel.

What do you think? Do you think these watering can part names have staying power, or should we just stick with "rose" and leave the other parts unnamed?

Or do you perhaps wonder if this is going to be a long winter, if my idle time is going to be used to come up with posts like this one, where I'm suggesting we rename everything? (Well, not everything, just the parts of a watering can... so far.)

And where did the name "rose" come from anyway?


  1. Chipping sodbury woman! What's with the melon vessel w/a root? Winter going to your noggin already?

  2. And why in the chipping sodbury am I wandering the internet googling watering can info?

  3. Very cute, and very creative! Love it.

  4. Carol! Watering cans are to me what hoes are to you. I applaud you on two great posts.

    Be assured that I am working on my official survey complete with photos. It snowed today so I needed something to take my mind off the weather. Hope to have my post up in the next day or two.

  5. Oh Carol, it may indeed be a long winter! But why not have a little fun while we are waiting for spring? Great post and I have seen a couple of the posts showing collections of watering cans-excuse me I mean melons. Who knew they were a collector's item!!

  6. So this is what happens to a gardener's brain during the off season... sad... we'll have to have an intervention soon to address your obsession with watering cans... poor thing... hehehehe...

  7. I do know how to use one, but finding time, or remembering to is another story.

  8. Too much information Carol. I think that 'rose' sounds poetic. Can't imagine why someone started calling the nozzle a rose. It conjurs up a pretty picture in my mind though.

  9. Although there have been changes in the superficies of the watering can over the years, they are still most recognizable even to the booboisie. Changing the arcana of the thing doesn't make it unidentifiable. (I hope you didn't mind my circumlocution.)

  10. Nope, doesn't work for me ... it was the melon that did it. "Pardon me while I fill my melon"? I cannot in good conscience use such a phrase.

    26 degrees in Indianapolis according to AccuWeather. That doesn't work for me, either!

  11. Love the watering can entry (LOL). Last summer I posted quite a few Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts, but this year they all seemed the same since I didn't plan anything new. I did, however, post an entry for November because I was so surprised that I still had one thing blooming even after several weeks of below freezing nights and a 3-4 day snow (LOL).

  12. Carol — Hi again! I have posted pictures of my watering cans on my blog. Hope you can stop by for a look at them. I'll never match you in hoes but I'm doing pretty well with these "melons."

  13. Carol, did I miss the census count? If it's not too late, I have only two watering cans, though I'd love to find a "vintage" metal one.

    Re-naming the parts of the can is fine with me, since I didn't even know the "spraying part" was called a rose. You can keep on supplying us with your wealth of gardening information all winter, Carol--I need it:)

  14. Guess what I found when I made room for my daughter's friend to ride with us to the thrift stores to find furniture for her apartment she's moving into? It was not a hoe that almost fell out! I wonder if there are any more hiding anywhere else? Ms.wis has an awesome collection of watering cans, and she posed them very nicely.

  15. Oh, and I forgot to mention, I enjoyed the further education on the parts of watering cans. The rose has been plucked from some of mine, but I sometimes prefer to use those, because the water goes more onto the soil, and less on the leaves. Plus, it comes out faster.


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