Object of the Month – calling all gardeners

Another mystery object for you all, this time from the gardens at Dyrham. When working on another job at the property the gardeners asked if I could look at some of the things they had found when digging over the flower beds. In one box there were many of these long glass tubes.

One of the glass philes

One of the glass tubes filled with soil

They had been dug up from under a bush, and it looked like they had been put down in a pile next to the bush and forgotten about. They then had been buried over the years as fallen leaves turned to leaf mould and then, with the help of the worms, into soil.

They are roughly 26cm long and about 1cm wide, but each is slightly different in length, and width at the top and bottom. Most had broken ends, so it was not clear if they where meant to be closed or open, but we found one was intact. This had a hole at the end, so we can assume they all had.

A surviving end of the phile with rounded edges to the hole

A surviving end of the tube with rounded edges to the hole

The top has a flared rim, with rounded edges. As for age of the tubes we are not sure but they look like they are early 20th century.

Top of phile with flared rim

Top of the tube  with flared rim

I have asked our garden advisor if he has ever come across anything like them and what they may have been used for. He checked all his references and came across a reference to a ‘slender glass tube’ that was used for testing the water retention qualities of soil. You need to insert a porous bung into the bottom of the tube and then fill with soil; it is then inserted into the soil. Similar things can be seen in scientific equipment catalogues. Another idea is that they may have been used to feed plants directly to the root, or to water them. So, over to you all as I am sure you maybe able to solve this mystery, either with a new idea or to confirm our ideas 🙂

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