My name and address were sold to the SEND THIS WOMAN EVERY CATALOG IN PRINT list last year. Being a non-shopper, I’ve been discarding catalogs every day for a year as soon as they arrive. I do lament the many pounds of wasted tree pulp from trees I deeply wish were still standing generously sequestering CO2 and giving us more O2. Cool weather loving seedlings are facing a change in soil temperature, soil and air humidity, and sun intensity they historically require to regenerate. My calls to stop delivery have been unfruitful and the tide of nonsense continues. “Leave it in the ground” I request to service reps bored and overly polite. However, there are no absolutes it seems, today a catalog arrived that I actually enjoyed -1 out of more than 100. It caught me on a foggy chilly day I wanted to plant potato eyes which I’ve been saving all winter. But it is still too early just yet. Short time is the hardest.
The arrival of a Gardener’s catalog heralding from Pennsylvania tantalizing with UK specialties caught my fancy on a particularly February day before I removed the address and tossed it into recycling. Do they actually recycle? In any case, I am now visually acquainted with a distinct world of gardening, much like a gourmet cooking store. Loaded with the most dedicated and impeccably manufactured gardening items I opened the book into Glam Gardening. I wonder if the Prince of Wales has at least one of every item, as well as, the oiled barn jacket with a corduroy collar he wore in his video at the beginning of the pandemic urging Brits to Garden and Carry On. (youtube) So over a long lukewarm coffee, softened with oat milk, I perused the possibilities: splendid specific tools for every possible action in a garden or greenhouse. I’m remembering the scene in “American Beauty” (1999) where the narrator (Lester) comments that his wife’s matching rose snips and rubber crocs is “not an accident”.
We all have our ways. I admit I collect cast iron bakeware (heavy!) and have three different spigot heads for watering ( seedling, spot, and thumb ). The seedling spigot makes soft ephemeral droplets, the spot spigot head has an outlet 3mm wide for precise application of water. As for broadcast watering I use my thumb to splay the water, a childhood skill practiced to perfection for the purpose.
But in learning the difference between a hod and a trug. I was challenged: wood, plastic, bamboo, telescoping. All which are infinitely more elegant loaded and even soiled, than my grocery bags, old boxes, and tin pales used as needed for “purposes not intended”.
I spent some time investigating an array of squirrel baffles having always made my own from scrounged and hand constructed contrivances refusing to pay $32 – $71 for a plastic thingy. I will shamelessly admit that the creature being most baffled was usually me, not the squirrel. It was a contest of will and ingenuity, nonetheless. We developed a relationship of sorts. In any case, I will share that the most copy-able baffle from the UK looks like a glorified funnel and “Hell yeah, I can do that at home”. Why didn’t I think of an automotive funnel before? Baffled no longer.
My odd ball pruner collection has become dull to an expletive, deserving the descriptor of “tearer” not pruner. So, I was mesmerized by the assortment of Tool Sharpeners, one for every specific tool. Sure, here one needs a distinctive diecast tool, the shape of metal and cutting angle of blade is important. It’s all physics or elbow grease. As my attempts at file sharpening are still in process, I can write resolutely that it is a baffle of another dimension. I stewed over the shear pruners and scissor sharpeners or the 3 Garden Tool Sharpeners in One Kit. (Cost was same either direction). I decided I’d just go to the Saturday workshop on Pruning at the Learning Garden at 10 a.m. Saturday 19 February. (HINT, HINT) I have the files I just need an encouraging word about which direction to file. I’m a visual learner.
My pruner collection being in acute worthless condition, the red handled snips and pruners #2 -10, presented dazziling Pleistocene-looking creatures with big sharp sparkling beaks and big wary eyes. But they also look dangerously sharp and they match. Less chewing.
I was delighted at the non-toxic pest control options: a beer garden for slugs (Slug-X), Plantskydd for chewers of tree bark, harmless but works for 6 months and would it repel the neighbors 5 feral cats? Give me elk anyday.
Which brings me to the page on weeding implements with angles and bends to seek out taproots. They are far above my old kitchen butter knife, rusty screwdriver (straight head not phillips), they are far above my thrift store trowel not previously-gently-used. But on these I can pass.
A few pages on I was struck with MustHaveIt’s. As a strictly organic no-machine type gardener I am planning to invest in the Vintage Hand Tools, steel with bamboo handles: trowel, weeding fork, grubber. And yes, they match and will fit in the pocket of my Barn coat once I find one.
~ by Alexis West
The one catalog I don’t get and wish I did! Nice article, Alexis.
Loved your style of creative writing and heart-felt Expression Alexis! Thanks for this fun article.
thank you for this delight! Adele
So funny loved it!