From the Archives of American Gardens (AAG) Created by Kathryn Schroeder, AAG/GCA Garden History & Design Intern, July 2015 Submitted by Lindsay Dodge Like a number of features documented in the Garden Club of America Collection at the Archives of American Gardens, wellheads once served a utilitarian purpose but are now used as a decorative garden element. Dating as far back as the Middle Ages, wellheads were common in Europe, especially Venice, Italy. Around every well was a wellhead acting as a curb, protecting the valuable freshwater. Creating these wellheads became an art form with sculptors carving intricate designs into the stone.
Using previously functional wellheads as a decorative garden feature began shortly after there was no longer a vital need for them. In the United States the trend started when affluent Americans traveled abroad and saw attractive and elaborate examples. Americans returned home with wellheads purchased from art dealers to incorporate into their gardens. This also prompted American firms such as Tiffany & Co. to begin producing and selling their own versions.
Though they no longer serve the function for which they were originally created, garden owners still find purpose for wellheads by turning them into unique focal points and planters.