Lee Valley & Veritas

Gardening Newsletter
  Volume 13, Issue 3 - March 2018  
What Is It?
What is it?
Where there is a garden, there is water. Where there is water … there are tools to help the gardener do the watering.

The collection of sprinklers and sprinkler heads at Les Jardins de Métis numbers more than a hundred, and the collection of watering cans found there is almost as big. But the travelling sprinkler still raises an eyebrow whenever visitors spy it or see it under speed. It is both useful and a conversation piece.

The idea is simple. The pressure of the water in a garden hose is enough to power the tiny gears of this sprinkler. With wheels like a tractor, the travelling sprinkler inches its way forward, watering gently as it goes, running on a length of extra garden hose as its guide.
What is it?
Designed by Jack Wilson in the 1930s, the "Automotive Travelling Sprinkler" was created to save time and effort. Custodian at a high school in Nebraska, Wilson obtained a patent for the sprinkler in 1939 and founded the Wilson Automotive Sprinkler Company. When the patent expired, others took his idea and replicated it, adding their own improvements or variations. This travelling sprinkler was made by Sears, Roebuck and Company. Despite a bit of rust, it is in pretty good condition, suggesting that it has rarely been used. Such is the fate of too many tools.

Travelling sprinklers continue to be made, although solar panels have replaced water power to move them forward. But there is still nothing like a stationary garden sprinkler with a well-adjusted head – more efficient and certainly more fun for kids to play in.
What is it?
Text by Alexander Reford

Photos by Lee Valley
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