Victorian garden style lives on…
There’s something charming about a bell jar… or cloche (pronounced kloshe). Maybe it’s the quaint knobs that sit on top. Or its care taking purpose as they guard small plants from cold and wind or, indoors, to showcase collections, fairy gardens, house plants and moss gardens. They can be an elegant display cases for precious objects. Whatever the reason, Flea Marketers are finding a delightful variety. Here are some favorites.
One cloche, two cloche
The French developed the glass cloche, or bell jar, formed from a solid piece of dome-shaped glass. The purpose was to protect an early garden plant from bleak cold and frost. However, as you may expect, glass was and is expensive to use in the garden, can be a bit dangerous and can sunburn the very plants you want to protect. Now, most cloche were used as patio and indoor decor.
Indoors, cloche are a great way to spotlight a rare or precious objects. Some can be used as terrariums. Outdoors in the garden, sunroom or on the porch, they are usually used for decoration rather then their true purpose of frost protection.
Laura Goines assembles her own cloche. She says, “I have a weakness for cloches and use them in Spring. These, above, are are candle cups to which I added knobs a few years ago. These would candle cups hold votives in a wire holder. I used one of my husbands drill presses and a glass bit to drill holes in the tops.”
Laura says, “I have several cloche, and use them in early spring. They protect my pansies when I plant, even against late spring snow”
Sue Jordan tells us, “I have rarely used mine in the garden as I was afraid I’d break it. Here is it’s current use, below.” We call this an ‘Altar to Nature’s Beauty!’
Chicken wire cloche are used in gardens to protect small plants from birds and other critters, as well as for enchanting and quaint decoration. Sue Jordan says, “…. I have used the wire cloche to get plants established in my raised beds… as the cat LOVES to lounge where I am working. I do think they are practical…”
Cloche can be made of wire, chicken wire, metal, plastic and terracotta as well,…the bell shape is a classic in the garden.
In the 1600s, garden designer and author John Evelyn listed glass cloche (kloshe) as essential garden tools in his book Elysium Britannicum. Thomas Jefferson employed them in his extensive vegetable garden.
At first knobs were attached to the tops, however, when the heat of the sun began to damage and ‘cook’ the plant, the gardeners would knock the knobs off with a hatchet. You can rarely find a vintage glass cloche for this reason and the ones you see here are, of course, decorative reproductions. Lovely ones, indeed!
The Elegance of DIY Cloche
Stephie McCarthy tells us, “This ‘Cookie Jar’ cloche has the lid glued on top. It’s lasted about two years so far outdoors.
Stephie was struck with genius inspiration the day she thought to set her orchid under glass! She removed the socket and wiring ad set the lamp on a dish filled with crushed colored glass. The wooden stand she found for it is the perfect size and proportion.
Be on the look out for these old style hanging lamps, with the idea that many can be perfect to use a a pleasing cloche. Thrift shops may be the most economical place to find these.
Ann Elias also found a suitable hanging lamp she can use indoors and out depending on the season and her mood.
Ann’s How To Project
Materials Glue all pieces together as shown below. Tape to hold, if necessary. Wait 24 hours to dry. Voila!
- Glass wine cooler
- Fancy metal tray
- Metal goblet
- Crystal salt shaker
- GE II Silicone Thank you Ann…
Is this not the most clever and elegant display place now? Ann can now change the treasures inside with the seasons.
Terresa Stoll “Here is a cloche I made from a rose bowl turned upside down and a powder box lid I found at a thrift store glued on the top for a handle. Total cost $2.00 and a little glue. But you can also glue on knobs from old dresser drawers or other objects as your cloche handle.”
Create a shallow hypertufa ‘dish’ to set the glass cloche in to grow a moss, house plant or fairy garden. We love this rustic look and now, many of the cloche you see come with a plate or stand.
Becky’s How to
Becky Norris says, “ I made these from gallon jars and etched them with etching cream and stencils I made.
“The cost and rarity of garden cloche is exactly why I made these for myself,” Becky Norris says, “I could not afford that much for something to protect my plants, These glass jar cloche were made with things I had saved and were decorated to suit my style. They were very easy to make and I used the GE II silicone to make these, I used the ARmorAll etching cream and a stencil that I made on my Cricut machine. You can paint the etching cream on with a brush freehand or you can glue other things to the glass to dress them up, or paint designs on them.
If you’re crafty and have a wet tile saw you can cut the thread part of the jars off so there will be a wider opening. I have also used glass decanters with the bottoms cut off and have just placed them over the plants. You can use the neck of the bottle as a handle.”
Sue Gerdes shows off a bird nest and an egg (!) in her thrift store cheese server, now turned into a decorative display cloche.
Resources and collections
If you need a glass bit: Bosch GT2000 Glass and Tile Set, 4-Piece
H-11.75″ Bottom D-8.5″, Clear