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A watering can (or watering pot) is a portable container, usually with a handle and a spout, used to water plants by hand. It has existed since at least the 17th century and has since been improved. It is used for many other uses too, as it is a fairly versatile tool.
The capacity of the container can be anywhere from 0.5 litres for use with household plants to 10 litres for general garden use. It can be made out of either metal, ceramic or plastic. At the end of the spout (a long tube originating at the bottom of the container), a "rose" (a device like a cap with small holes) can be placed to break up the stream of water into droplets to avoid excessive water pressure on the soil or on delicate plants.
John Cleese, in a 1963 Cambridge University Footlights Review ("Cambridge Circus") sketch "Judge Not" described a watering can as: "a large, cylindrical, tin-plated vessel with a perforated pouring piece, much used by the lower classes for the purpose of artificially moistening the surface soil".
The term "watering can" first appeared in 1692, in the diary of keen cottage gardner Lord Timothy Simon George of Cornwall. Before then, it was known as a "watering pot".
In 1885 the "Haws" watering can was patented by Michael Deas. He replaced the top mounted handle with a single round handle at the rear.
Watering cans are used by gardeners for watering plants, by road workers to apply bitumen to asphalt, as ornaments and regularly in symbolic art pieces.
In popular culture
- On her website, Martha Stewart suggests using watering cans to shower the feet after working and getting dirty.
- Impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted a work entitled A Girl with a Watering Can.
- Band Radiohead released a song named Fake Plastic Trees It is suggested that this song emphasises how the watering can has heavily influenced society and this 'fake tree' that is referred to throughout the song is merely a metaphor for society and the real message is how the mighty plastic watering can is soaking society with knowledge and empowerment which cannot be controlled.
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