I've admitted it before: I'm no gardener, but oh, how I love gardens! It seems to me that if you're going to go to the trouble of cultivating a beautiful bed of flowers, you might as well treat yourself to nice tools, as well.

So, on the next dry and sunny weekend, spread out some newspapers on the driveway and try your hand at this hand-painted watering can. Start with a plain, unrusted metal can. Clean with mineral spirits to ensure your working surface is pristine; rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth. Now, spray-paint the can any color you choose.

Once your base coat has dried, get out your acrylic paints and small-tipped brushes and create your masterpiece. Depending on your level of artistic skill, get as detailed as you like. Pink squiggles and abstract flowers ornament this white can, but yours might have a sky blue background with painted-on clouds. Another nice combination is a lavender base coat with hand-painted leaves and vines, or a strawberry patch shimmering on a pale yellow field.

If you're going to be using the can for vegetable or herb gardening, cover it with simple portraits of these plants. Practice them on newspaper first if you're a beginning painter; illustrations from plant catalogs and seed packets can be helpful guides.

Keep in mind that though a fine-tipped brush will serve you well for small details, paint pens are a great way of "drawing" on images for very polished results. Don't forget to ornament the spout and handles. For those who are really unsure of their painting skills, consider just making polka dots with an eraser tip or painting on golden I'm no gardener, but oh, how I love gardens!

sunbursts with a deliberately "naive" folk art look. Let your watering can dry, and then seal with an acrylic sealer.

Now, if you're more comfortable touring gardens than troweling, you can use the can in other ways. Fill it with lilacs and show it off by your front door to greet guests. Use the flower-filled can as a centerpiece to celebrate your first meal enjoyed outdoors on the patio. Or place it on a table before your front window as a tribute to spring.