How to install an antique bell in the garden
Many of us don’t live on farms, but could have relatives who did. Farm bells were standard and used as a dinner bell or as a warning or alarm bell for the family. Like the more common ‘windmills’ often installed in gardens, farm bells, fire bells, ships bells or railroad bells may be found to add to your garden. Finding one can connect us to our family history or satisfy an unexplained desire for one.
An antique bell for the garden
Have you thought of installing a bell? You might like going to auctions in your area and looking for antiques to furnish the garden. You know who you are if you are just drawn to bells and search them out.
George Weaver says, “For my Bell project. I drilled the stone for concrete fasteners to attach the old Iron wagon rim . The bell was on a rotten wood beam that I removed. I fabricated a steel ring to attach the bell and the eye bolt together. The rim was drilled and the eye bolt with bell was assembled.”
Some bells have a story:
Sherri Calvert says, “This old bell belonged to my husband’s grandmother’s family. We believe it was her grandfather’s. His grandmother was born in 1899. She told us that the bell was rang to call farmers in for meals and it was also used to call for help from neighbors in case of an emergency. Their barn once fell after a tornado and was on top of some of their cows. The bell was rang to summon help to get the barn off the cows.
Barb Tate Buckley, of Goodrich, Michigan, tells us, “For our bell, we put together an old wagon wheel and a school house bell and made a platform for the entire piece to sit on where an old Elm tree used to stand. My friend Larry Bond made a metal plate to mount it on. I thought it was a good way to use the stump for something good!
Barb’s five grandsons were having a good time on it and the next day, much to her amazement, there were hundreds of tiny little mushrooms growing… they only lasted the one day and then were gone…
The steel plate has all five grandson’s handprints and all the tiny mushrooms that grew around the stump the next day
The bell does ring and it rings for “Grandma” when they come over. The neighbors count down the minutes as it rings but have always been nice enough to just keep smiling…
Here stands Barb’s bell, so cold and lonely and waiting for the laughter of her grandsons from ringing Grandma’s bell…
Choosing a garden bell
- Do you want the bell to swing, or just the clapper to swing when pulled by a rope with the bell staying still?
- The next thing you must decide is if you want a cast iron, brass, or bronze bell. If it is mostly for looks and not sound, cast iron would be ok. If you want it to shine and sound OK, then brass would be the one. But if you want a good quality sound and a longer lasting bell with a good look, then bronze is the one.
More bells for the garden
Nancy K. Meyer says, “Here’s my bell and the story behind it. We got it from an older neighbor lady and after Ron got it all up on the big pole, we found out it is “off cradle” –meaning it won’t ring because the top is worn– so it will ding, but not dong. The only time we hear it is when we have gale force winds. Our own early warning system!”
Bells mounted on 4×4 or 6×6 redwood posts are the simplest to put up. You can see how it was done for Jeanne’s bell.
Marie Niemann’s unique bell was mounted on four 4×4 posts, bolted together. Totally wind-proof.