Take A Guess At This Garden Object


See the ball in the middle of this picture. I suppose it’s a bit smaller than a bowling ball. It’s got a vine growing on it. The owner of this ball ask me to identify it for him. He said he had ask a lot of people but no one knew. It’s not a decorative orb meant to sit by itself….or at least I don’t think so. I think I’ve found the answer. They were popular during the Victorian era. One of my clues in indentifying the object has to do with where it was found. The owner says he found it during low tide on the shores of the Cape Fear River in Wilmington, NC.

He’s a modern day treasure hunter. Ships from all over the country would sail in and out of the Wilmington harbor. They would bring goods of every kind to sell and trade with the area merchants. The owner of this ball spends many a quiet afternoon with his head down in search of these types of things.

He has pipes, buckles, tableware, buttons, swords, boots, and you name it from the Victorian era. He takes folks out treasure hunting and helps them train their eye for these long forgotten pieces of the past. He’ll go behind where you just stepped and find things like coins. You didn’t notice it at all even though your eyes looked right at it. He knows how to sort the beach debris from the man made objects. It’s not so easy.

This very heavy ball had to be rolled all the way to the car as it could not be carried. It was hauled back to the garden and has remained there for several years. Many pass but no one knows what it is. I have two possible and likely needs for such a heavy ball. First—you must guess.

Do you think you know?

My recent research leads me to believe it’s a pier cap stone. I think it is purely decorative and was used to adorn the main two entry pillars on the front sidewalk. The Victorian era was stately and ornate. The balls were ordered and sat on the top of columns. It was simply a finishing touch.

My other guess is a gravity latch ball. It would be held in some type of basket or chain hammock and would cause the gate to close due to gravity. Have you seen those?

So what is your guess or maybe you really do know!


  1. Sylvia (England) says:

    Anna, I am so sorry to hear about your eyes but know you will make the best of life – what ever it is. My Aunt has this as well as Glaucoma but she retained her sight for a long time, only in her 70s did she lose most of it. My Aunt is the most cheerful upbeat person I know and you are very like her, she has a great life enjoys every moment and always finding something different to do. Including having a new house and garden only a few years ago.

    Very best wishes Sylvia (England)Thank you. I do pride myself on being positive. I hope mine is the slow progressive type. I wouldn’t say I’m not worried but can say it isn’t on my mind most of the time. I have too much to do in the garden and I love blogging too much. I guess I’m not a person who has nothing to do. Plenty of stuff to keep my mind off it. And as you say….most people learn to adjust and move right along at normal pace.


  2. nancybond says:

    Sweet Anna, what terrible news for you to receive. My Mom has MD in one eye that has remained stable for many years (8+) now, and hasn’t affected her vision enough to make her unable to drive or anything…perhaps yours will do the same. Absolutely rest your eyes — you must. Come to your blog as and when you can…you know we’ll all be waiting for your latest posts. 🙂 But take care of YOU first. Wishing you all the best with this, and hoping you’ll keep us posted. (((Anna)))
    Thank you! I like hearing your mom’s progress. I go back to the eye dr on the 13th of April. They’ll determine if it’s we or dry. They’ll be able to see if it’s moved to the right eye also. I’m very optimistic. I usually prepare for the worst and am glad when it’s not so bad.


  3. James says:

    Anna you poor thing, what a dreadful thing to happen. I know you will stay chipper and always look on the bright side.
    I think definitely pier cap: too heavy to be a counter weight. Any gate wityh that much stone hanging off it would open so fast it would knock the teeth out of anybody standing too close!
    Thank you.

    You are too funny–I can see how it would knock their teeth out but there were much bigger gates that used them too. In the community close to my house called Old Salem, they have one hanging from the barn door.


  4. Gail says:

    Oh crud! That is not as strong a word as I want to use, but you know…My dear friend I am in shock reading about your diagnosis; but relieved you have a doctor you trust now. I know that you are surrounded with love and supportive family and that is so important…Your spirit and positive beliefs are indomitable….please take care! (( you)) Gail
    Thank you so much. I was more frustrated the last 5 years not knowing why my eyes had fireworks all day long than finding out what’s causing it. The dr did say I handled it well. You know me–all questions and I understood enough to ask some pretty detailed questions. I was amused by the look on his face at my depth of understanding. He didn’t know I talk about biology things all the time. I didn’t tell him either as that bit of humor was helping me get through the ordeal and shock of the moment. That’s my escape personality.

    Gail you’ve always been able to read me pretty well and you know I had a good old time with that eye dr. He was trying to dodge and delay. I was pushing and searching and more like prodding and dragging answers out of him. I have learned that doctors would rather give you an answer on a need to know basis and not an informed descriptive scenario on the thousand different off shoots of the main issue. I am a pain in the tush as I prod them for all possible situations including how my disease would respond to life on Pluto.

    I threw him for a loop when I told him about stem cell research and growing a new eye. I said—well maybe I’m not so worried cause 10 years from now I can grow one eyeball a month till I get tired of taking them in and out.


  5. Robin says:

    Anna, I’m sorry to hear about your vision issues. My grandmother had macular degeneration; I never thought about the possibility of it being hereditary. Thank you for the reminder to protect my eyesight from sun and strain.
    I don’t like to wear glasses as it presses on my sinuses. I don’t want to wear contacts either as they don’t provide enough UV protection. You usually hear of this with folks from age 60 on up. Since I got it around 40 years old, they think its the hereditary kind. I go on April 13th to get more test and information. I’m taking this all really well. I suppose it’s cause my kids are successfully on their own and MrD has a good job. I don’t have other stresses. As long as MrD and the kids are doing well—I can manage the rest.


  6. Catherine says:

    Sorry to hear about you diagnosis! My grandma had that and I remember reading about certain vitamins that can help with it. If I remember which one I’ll let you know. Otherwise your eyes are much more important than spending too much time on the computer!
    By the way I think the pier cap stone sounds like a great guess.
    The eye dr said the vitamins work on 50% of the people. A,D,E,C some minerals and fish oils are part of the mix. I have a sample of Bausch and Lomb vitamins that are mixed for this sort of disease. It will perhaps cut down on the damage and prolong the effects.


  7. Barbee' says:

    Anna, how good of you to share your news about your eyes. I am sure this will send many to the phone to make appointments to have theirs checked. It seems devastating news for a person as young as you are; I know you are no spring chicken, but still not old either. Several months ago I started posting with larger type size. It helps me, and I hope it helps others. This new problem in addition to the dyslexia certainly poses grievous challenges. Dyslexia runs in my birth family, and my maternal grandmother had the degeneration, therefore your news hit me close to home. More hugs!
    I’m going to ask the wordpress folks if they can make my type larger. That would help. But I’m also able to make my screen bigger with just two clicks of the keys. In some cases, no amount of enlarging helps. The right eye is compensating so much that it gets tired easily. I stop when I feel it fatiguing.

    They figure this probably came on me 8 to 10 years ago which would put me at about 40ish. That’s too young for age related macular degeneration so they think it’s the heredity type and could have progressed to a wet form–meaning it leaks. Whether now or later—the center of my vision is going to go. The earlier I learn to cope—the better. I’ll make all the adjustments now …….such as get rid of the coffee table in the middle of the room. I can trip over that stupid thing on a normal basis. I can start to build patterns. Like….keep my toothbrush in the same place, hang my clothes as an outfit, always lay the phone down in the same spot, and the list of habits goes on and on. Being familiar with the day to day chores makes it so much less of a transition when the time comes.

    I can already put on make-up and cook with my eyes closed. I’ve never been much of a person to change my patterns.


  8. Jen says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about this diagnosis, Anna. But it sounds like you’re doing the right thing by taking more preventative measures now. This is something I need to learn more about because it runs in my family and I’m really bad about hats and sunglasses.

    I wouldn’t have a clue about the ball, but my first thought after hearing about its weight was that it was an anchor of some kind, so I go with your gravity ball theory.
    Thank you and make sure you get those appointments for your eyes. If caught early enough—you can greatly diminish the ill affects.


  9. Jen says:

    Anna, I am echoing all the beautiful messages written to you above. So very sorry to hear what is happening. Please know that we are thinking good thoughts for you.

    Thank you and I know that you are wishing me good thoughts—that’s how gardeners are. We are a nurturing bunch. I think my new glasses will help the migraines. Let’s hope.


  10. Hi dear Anna, Lots of ((HUGS)) to you. It is upsetting news and I’m sure you are very concerned. I send lots of hugs and best wishes for it to lay low and not progress quickly. Your thoughts and observations about the ball and ornament are very interesting!
    Thank you and I’ve known bigger hurdles to jump so this kind of challenge is just part of life I suppose. I am sure that I’ll adjust and continue to overcrowd my garden with all kinds of fun stuff. I’ll have to look at it sideways but at least I’ll be gardening.


  11. VP says:

    PS – I’d immediately guessed a decorative capstone as we have something very similar at the entrance of our part of the estate, even though we’re not Victorian, nor near the sea!
    I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me but sometimes the obvious escapes us. You would think the people he ask from around where he lives would have figured it out. I bet you( meaning the area where this was seen) see a lot of them in Wilmington, NC. You gardeners seem to have this down pat.


  12. VP says:

    Anna, here’s loads of ((((((hugs))))) for you after your sad news 😦

    As usual, your cheerful self is shining through. Let us know what we can do with our blogs to make it easier for you to read them. You’ve also made me go and book an appointment for an eye check – it’s long overdue, so thank you for the reminder.
    Thank you and it’s much appreciated. I can read blogs pretty well when I magnify the screen. Doing that is really easy on my computer. I just hit command and the + key. Most of the time I don’t have to if I don’t tire out my good eye. I’m getting new glasses as soon as they are done making them. The dr claims it will make a ton of difference. My current glasses aren’t very old but they weren’t made for my situation. I was fun to pick out a new style. Almost like getting a new plant.

    I had my eyes checked every two years but my last dr didn’t read the eye exams correctly I suppose. We’re still trying to understand why it wasn’t caught earlier. I’ve been through 5 years of complaining about it to everyone from my regular dr to a neurosurgeon. The neuro and regular dr both said it sounds like macular degeneration—-but the eye dr said he didn’t see a thing. The new eye dr saw it immediately and showed it to me. Yep, there were several white dots about the size of an eraser head just below my macula. That’s the spot on the back of the eye that receives all the reflected light from what you see.


  13. Janet says:

    Anna, So sorry to hear about your macular degeneration. As Les said, I have heard of some methods for dealing with it. I am glad you have a good doctor and a wonderful family to help you with this.
    In the garden I know we all should wear hats and protect our eyes. Good reminder for all of us.
    Hopefully your eyes will be slow to decline.
    Thank you and I am doing really well with the information. Information is something I crave because I’m empowered with knowing what to do or not do. Once I understand something inside and out—-I conquer it by staying one step ahead.


  14. Aw geez, I’m so sorry to hear about the macular degeneration, Anna. You sound like you are handling it well, and if I know you, you’ll find a way to work around it. You are a steam engine of good cheer and optimism! That will help a lot.
    Thank you and I have to agree that I do steam ahead and that confidence tells me I’ll manage just fine. I have a good magnifier on my computer. So glad I got a Mac as it makes it a lot easier writing and reading blogs.


  15. Les says:

    Sorry to hear what hand fate has delt you. My mother and mother-in-law both have it, and it what little I know of it is that it can be managed with some adjustments. We also have a good friend who has it, and even though she is legally blind, she still creates talented, detailed pieces of art. Best of luck to you!
    Thank you and so glad to hear that these ladies have managed to work around it. They must have age related macular degeneration. Inherited comes on earlier in age and is usually a faster acting type. But I think it’s the same amount of damage. I will retain peripheral vision hopefully. Eye strain is the biggest problem right now. The right eye is working overtime. I’m concerned but not down in the dumps. As long as my kids and MrD are healthy—I’m happy.


  16. Blossom says:

    Oh, I’m not good at guessing game. But I wanna say how sorry I am to hear about your eye sight. I know you are taking all precautions and measures regarding this. Do take care.
    Thank you and I’m good at doing what I’m told by the dr. It’s hard to be in a bad mood with all this pretty weather we hare having.


  17. Phillip (UK) says:

    Very sorry to hear about your eyes Anna. Take it easy, take no risks with something so important. Your guesses as to the object woyld be about the same as mine. Looks good with the ivy. Take care.
    Thank you. I’m glad you also guessed the same about the ball. I figured the gate gravity ball right away—but that pier ornament had me. I didn’t even think of that till today and it was back in the fall of 08 that I first saw it. It isn’t common at all around here. I will be writing this gentleman next week and telling him or our guesses.


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