I have always been fascinated with the gazing ball, that shinning, reflective colorful orb usually perched on a stand. As I discovered, their history is as colorful and varied as they are! This decorative garden ornament is just full of history ( boring), lore and legend (fun facts).
Thoughts from the Cottage…
History and Lore of the Gazing Globe
Legend and lore has some fun facts. A gazing ball was said to bring happiness, good luck and prosperity to those who owned it. The globe was known to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. Lore has it that a witch would not be able to stop looking at herself and the other version is she could not bare to look at her image, either way she stays away from you! Balls made of colored glass as opposed to the mirrored kind are believed to attract and trap evil spirits. The Victorians found a practical use for them, hence the name "butler ball". Strategically placed the servant could monitor the needs of the guest without having to stare at them, yet arrive magically to help the visitors. The South picked up on this and placed them at the front gate so they could see who was coming and have time to hide or prepare tea (that is the early version of screening calls). Let's not forget the wedding gift, to bring the bride happiness to her new home.
First we have to travel back in time to the 13th century (now that is time travel). Skilled glass blowers from Venice crafted the shiny spheres. They were most likely using up odd bits and having a little fun., but that is my opinion. Then we move forward to the early 1600's, a Italian priest and chemist referred to them as "spheres of light". In the same era another famous individual Francis Bacon stated that "a proper garden should have rounded color balls for the sun to play upon". Gazing globes gained widespread popularity during the Victorian era, used both inside and outside the home. Also in the 19th century King Ludwig of Bavaria had the globes placed throughout his garden at the castle of Herrenchiemsee (try saying that three times fast) so the popularity continued.
A word of caution, the seal at the neck of the ball should never be loosened or removed. Moisture inside the ball will cause the reflective material to peel (ugh). Gazing globes should be taken in during the cold months to keep from freezing or cracking. Rain will not harm the ball but a violent storm can send branches flying and crack the glass.
Gazing globes are used in famous gardens throughout the world, why not let one reflect your personality and bring that eye catching appeal to your yard! And who knows, maybe bring a little luck and prosperity!
Fast forward to today ...gazing balls are used for garden decoration. They can enhance the overall look of your garden. Whatever your theme, there is a globe to match in blown glass, stainless steel, copper or ceramic. The reflecting orb allows the garden flowers, sky and structures to be viewed in a single glance. Not only amongst the flowers but they can be placed in the pond, bird bath or hung in trees.