I have done away with the great serpent, the mighty beast I struggled so hard to control.
Stay! I would command, panting as I heaved it into its place, but when I turned my back, it would hump its body over azaleas, hydrangeas, and tender lilies, breaking branches willy nilly. When I turned to defend my plants, it would coil itself around my ankles, aiming to take me down. As I gripped its thick neck, it would hiss and spray me in the face.
The serpent is a commercial strength water hose, and I was so happy the day I brought it home.
I am fortunate to live in an area that receives plentiful rain throughout the year, averaging about sixty inches of precipitation annually. We are blessed with many lakes, streams, and rivers, and water shortages are not common. Nevertheless, we do sometimes have droughts, usually during the hottest part of summer. Some plants are drought resistent, but others, including hydrangeas, are not. Their name comes from Greek words meaning 'water vessel', a tip that that these lovely shrubs especially need to be watered during dry spells. Parts of my garden are far from a water source, and desperate times mean pulling a very long garden hose deep into the yard. I dream of a sprinkler system, but I doubt my budget will ever afford that.
I was fed up with flimsy, cheap hoses that burst at the first kink in their system or whenever a car inadvertently ran over them. So when I inherited a durable one from my father, I was pleased. I don't know where he found it. It's not the kind of hose one buys at a big box store. It is thick walled, black rubber, heavy duty, indestructible. A bulldozer couldn't crush it. My dad owned it for many years. Life-time guarantee? I don't know, but it outlived him, and I am sure it will also outlive me.
The problem is, lugging that hose is heavy, hard work. It belongs in an industrial site where muscular men lift aircraft parts for fun.
This year I have done two things to replace the serpent. Thanks to modern technology, hoses can now be strong as well as lightweight. I recently purchased a hundred foot, super thin but heavy duty hose reported to be half the weight of normal hoses. I was skeptical but decided to try it out. Hooray! It looks very sturdy, indeed, and I can easily lift the entire hose with one hand.
The second thing I did was to order a 65 gallon rain barrel, shaped like an urn, to serve as a water reservoir in my woodland garden. It is outfitted with a spigot and a short hose, and I can easily fill my watering can. It is wonderful to have a water source close to the thirsty plants!
When it quits raining, I look forward to trying out my new options!
5/13/12 Addendum: A number of commenters have asked if I depend on rain to fill the urn. Because the urn is not attached to a downspout, it would take a long time for rain to fill it. I used a hose to pre-fill it, and rainwater is a bonus. I am using the urn as a reservoir, so a water source is handily available in the woodland garden.