Gardening tools

by James Alexander-Sinclair

There are certain tools without which I cannot cope and others which I hardly ever use. Among my favourites are...

Garden tools hanging on a wallThe last few days before Christmas have different effects on different people. Some are smugly satisfied as all presents have been bought and wrapped, turkeys and other Christmassy foods have been ordered and it is their sister’s turn to entertain that particularly troublesome aunt (the one with the incontinent dog and a penchant for expensive gin). They will spend the next week tweaking decorations and maybe doing some relaxed baking.

Others are rushing about having left everything too late; they're the ones doing their Christmas shopping in the late night garage and wondering whether the last frozen chicken could stretch to feeding twelve.

Then there's a third group into which I am fortunate to fall: those of us deemed too incompetent by our partners to be trusted with much, so we can relax, knowing that everything will fall into place and all we have to do is be useful when required and grateful on the day. This leaves me with the spare time to go and pootle around in the shed and look at tools. We have an old barn that doubles as storage and tool shed (it also served as a fine film studio the other day when Joe Swift, Cleve west and I recorded our Christmas message).

Often the tools are in a muddy heap and I enjoy spending an hour or so hanging them up, cleaning them off and spraying some oil around. There are certain tools without which I cannot cope and others which I hardly ever use. Among my favourites are:

1. My small border fork and spade, which are perfect for planting and diddling around.

2. A steel shafted spade that I've had for many years and a very heavy metal spike that are perfect for digging up large plants or making holes in the rockier parts of the garden.

3. My trowels - partly because they were all given to me by people, so have good associations. My newest is a shiny copper trowel that was a birthday present from my fellow bloggista Lila Das Gupta. It looks too good to use so I am considering converting it to a cake slice.

4. The best leaf rake ever, so much better at almost everything than a metal spring rake - except raking dead thatch out of evergreen grasses, like Stipa gigantea.

5. A Rice Sickle, which has a really vicious cutting edge that's ideal for cutting back tall grasses. Mind your fingers.

And the least useful?

An ancient shovel, encrusted with so much old concrete that it is three times heavier than it should be: I keep it because it was the first shovel I ever bought when I was a contractor years and years ago. I should really get rid of it but this time of year is, after all, a time for sentiment!

Have a wonderful Christmas.

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Gardeners' World Web User 21/12/2009 at 16:14

The most useful tool I have is a thing called 'Snapper'. It's really a pair of secateurs on the end of a metre-long pole. It is excellent for pruning hard to reach shrubs, but, best of all, it holds onto the pruned piece so that it doesn't drop into the surrounding plants. I wouldn't do without it.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/12/2009 at 08:32

The most useful tool I have is an azada.It looks like a wide flat-bladed pick axe and is great for turning over new ground or breaking up big clods and it doesn't hurt your back!

Gardeners' World Web User 31/03/2010 at 19:57

where can I get a rollup garden path. I remember seeing such things advertised in the past they were slatted and made of wood?

Gardeners' World Web User 19/05/2010 at 15:24

Hi everyone! Its that time of the year again when I know I’ve got to do something with my garden, it’s a complete mess and I’m thinking of getting some sort of storage unit to put my lawnmower and the gardening tools etc. its not a bad sized garden, so I’m thinking like a double door shed..Any recommendations where I should look? Cheers! Katy :)

Gardeners' World Web User 02/05/2011 at 03:44

monty don used a double headed rake on the show 29/4 does any one have details of this item?

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