55 Years Cradling Plants

I use a variety of interesting containers in my backyard garden. Along with standard clay flowerpots, I make use of metal buckets, wash tubs, tree stumps, and even a toolbox. One of my favorite containers is a green and white pot handed down to me from my mom. It has spent 55 years cradling plants.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Container for house plants

I’m not sure what the exact age is, of this vintage container. As a small child the southwestern style flowerpot sat in various corners of our Tulsa, Oklahoma home, and I am 60 now. My mom always grew a species of plant within it commonly known as the snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. This tough house plant is easy to grow and thrives with little care.

First cultivated in China, the snake plant was treasured because people thought it bestowed eight virtues on those who grew it. Those virtues include long life, prosperity, intelligence, beauty, art, poetry, health, and strength. The plants were kept near the front doors of the home so that the eight virtues could circulate throughout the house.

I wonder if Mom knew this? Our snake plant most often resided in the foyer.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Cherished flowerpot for my plants

When we moved, this flowerpot moved with us, to fresh houses and new towns in different states. Eventually the container came to me. Mom knew I would keep green beauties growing within it.

And I have.

I switched out the snake plants for colorful portulaca, also known as sun roses or moss roses. These plants are just as easy to grow and care for. For years the old pot sat on my covered front deck or rested solidly among flowers growing in beds around the house.

Five years ago, when I created my backyard paradise, I moved the container to the area just inside the garden gate. It lends color with its spill of blooms and it anchors the area, filled primarily with ground covers such as creeping jenny and phlox. It’s an anchor for my heart and soul as well. Every time I see the now vintage container, or water the plants tucked inside, I think of my mom and my childhood. This pot has stood as a silent witness to many events and changes. It is dear to me.

55 Years Cradling Plants The container’s most recent home. Photo taken before the ground cover filled in the area.

New location new plants

As I watered and pulled weeds this evening, I knelt down next to this vintage container and rested my hands upon it. The setting sun kissed the rounded sides, warming them and creating a soft reflective glow. Energy hummed beneath my hands.

Because of its age, I made the decision to relocate the flowerpot indoors this fall, where it will be protected from the cold weather. And just as suddenly, I knew what to transplant into the pot.

How appropriate it feels to grow snake plants in the container again, bringing the flowerpot full circle. Inspired by my research tonight, I’m delighted to plop my freshly planted container near the front door where, feng shui style, the eight virtues can be unleashed within my home. I’m smiling already, thinking of this change. My old container…55 years cradling plants…and counting.

55 Years Cradling Plants

Grandpa Bill’s Doll

I grew up disliking dolls, which was peculiar for a little girl. I had my reasons. As an adult I still don’t care for them. So it’s unusual that the subject of tonight’s Vintage Story post is a doll and even more out of the ordinary that she is snuggled up with me as I write. This vintage girl is special however. She belonged to one of Greg’s grandparents and surprisingly, not to Grandma Ruby. This little beauty was Grandpa Bill’s doll.

Grandpa Bill’s Doll

Bill Moore was a two year old toddler in 1900 when he received the doll, making her at least 120 years old. When he first showed me the doll with the china head, hands and feet, he chuckled. I heard how she accompanied him through the years. Grandpa’s family moved often during his childhood and youth, and it is amazing that this treasure survived.

Why oh why, I wonder now, did I not question him more about his doll? Grandpa Bill seemed quite fond of her and indeed, he cherished her because in his twilight years, he still had her. She was carefully on display in his home when I met her. Her original outfit had long ago been replaced by something newer, however the style of the dress was appropriate for her age. What did he call this doll, as a child? Who gave him the toy? Did his two brothers and three sisters have china dolls as well? If they didn’t, why did he have a doll? There are so many questions that I will never have answers to.

Grandpa Bill’s DollWilliam Rolston Moore, age 2.

What I do know is that Grandpa Bill loved his doll so much that he kept her near him throughout his life. Only when he moved into an assisted care facility, after the death of Grandma Ruby, did he placed the doll into the care of his daughter-in-law Leta Moore.

The doll came to me 20 years later, before Bob Moore passed away. I carefully packed her away in a closet, fearful that she would get broken. However, my philosophy about vintage items is to use them and display them so that they can be enjoyed. The doll made her debut in my home as the central piece in a fall vignette, in 2014.

Grandpa Bill’s Doll

Tonight I researched the origins of Grandpa Bill’s doll. I discovered that she is most likely a Hertwig lowbrow china doll from Germany.

The Hertwig Porcelain Factory, located in the Thuringian town of Katzhütte, Germany, made porcelain products from 1864 until the factory closed around 1950. Doll parts were made from 1865 on.The earliest shoulder heads may have been made of unglazed porcelain. Hertwig is most noted for their Nanking-Puppen, or lowbrow dolls, made with nanking (brown cotton) bodies, stuffed with cotton, with bisque or china limbs.

Grandpa Bill’s DollTwo lowbrow china dolls. The blonde ones were created specifically for the American market, around 1900.

Grandpa’s doll looks like the blonde lowbrow model, with the heart shaped mouth, light colored eyes and brown brows. His doll has the brown cotton body with china hands and black painted china boots.

And here is the interesting correlation. I know, from Greg’s recent genealogy research, that Bill Moore’s maternal grandfather came from Germany…the Hesse region. Henry Siegfried arrived in the US by way of New York City, New York, in 1854. Henry’s daughter, Lillian Ida Siegfried, became Bill’s mother.

Is it possible that the doll belonged to her and she gave it to her young son? Or did Lillian or another Siegfried relative purchase the German made doll in the US, because of its connection to their native country?

Grandpa Bill’s Doll Bill and Ruby in 1917.

Grandpa Bill’s DollGrandpa Bill four years before his death. He rode a stationary bike five miles every day.

If only this old girl could talk, I’d have the answers to my questions. And then I’d have to pack her away again, because a talking doll would not be acceptable to me!

She has won me over though. This cherished childhood keepsake has helped me to move past a long held fear of mine. I featured the doll in fall vignettes at first. Gradually she appeared in other groupings all over my house. And when she’s not gathering admiring glances in wooden sieves or old suitcases or Christmas vignettes, she stands on my bedroom dresser.

That’s a big deal for me, to display a doll in my room. I had a chat with her and asked her to behave, or back into the closet she would go. She’s been the perfect little lady and I have an appreciation and an affection for her now.

I hope Grandpa chuckles over his doll still and visits her while I sleep. I want him to know she is cared for and loved. Perhaps he will whisper her name into my ear and tell me more about her in my dreams. Until I hear otherwise, I will call her Lillian, after his mother. Grandpa Bill’s doll…she’s a treasure indeed.

Grandpa Bill’s Doll