I had a hard time coming up with the best thing I bought this decade. There were a lot of contenders. Originally, I’d wanted to write about the Merkur safety razor I bought about eight years ago (before experts recommended it to us) and still use whenever I shave, which has saved me hundreds of dollars in disposable cartridge razors. But the end of the decade has me feeling sentimental, and writing about a razor seemed a little too practical. Whatever I go on the record calling the “best thing I bought this decade” should be something with more emotional resonance that is still inextricably linked to the winding journey I’ve been on from 2010 through 2019. So with that in mind, I am bestowing the honor upon Haws’s copper watering can, a 2018 purchase that represents the moment I fully embraced my years-in-the-making hobby of plant parenthood.
I’ve lived in four different apartments since I moved to New York eight years ago — all with roommates, which isn’t always the easiest having grown up as an only child with no real need to share space. Another thing all my apartments have had are little “gardens” I set up in the windowsills. The gardens started small — in the past three apartments, they consisted of just a plant or two — but have grown as my thumb turned greener, with my current setup spilling from the windowsill onto a plant stand, a bookshelf, and an end table. And no matter their size, these plant nooks have always been my favorite part of any apartment, probably because they are the areas that feel most like my own.
Generally, I keep my gear pretty simple: terra-cotta pots and saucers from the hardware store around the corner, no design-y ceramic vessels or grow lights or other gadgets. But the copper Haws can is my one exception: It elevates what could otherwise seem like a mundane task into sort of a special ritual. It’s like religious garb but for watering plants. I don’t want to fixate too much on the price or the brand, both of which I covered in depth when I wrote an article about this very watering can more than a year ago (around the time I bought it). But of the price, I will quickly say that, yes, it is a lot, and if you’re just looking at the watering can online, it might seem a little crazy. Now that I’ve used it, however, I get it.
The Haws can’s design is legitimately very good. When I was researching my article on it, experts told me about features like its narrow spout (for precise watering), detachable “rose” head (for a gentler, rainwater-type shower), and overall “balance” (for ease of use and maneuverability). Initially, I was a bit skeptical whether any of this would make a difference, but the narrow spout is quite handy for watering most of my plants, which are crowded together in back-to-back rows. And the “balance” definitely has helped with watering the few vining plants I keep on top of a bookshelf, because I can easily hold the compact can from the bottom and tip it gently forward to reach them. (I know these sound like small things, but you start to appreciate them if you’re caring for a lot of plants.)
While the copper has no tangible benefit over, say, the plastic of my former watering can, the material is still the can’s main draw for me. In the year I’ve had mine, the copper has faded from off-puttingly clean and gleaming to a state that makes the can look like some family heirloom I’ve had for way longer than a year and a half (honestly, way longer than a decade). And that is really my favorite thing about it: that the can feels personalized simply from using it. I love how leaving it out on the coffee table or on my plant stand adds a little flair to the whole setup. Needless to say, I’m excited to see how it looks in another ten years.
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