The First Hellebore of February, ’18
In considering the garden, my ‘frame of reference’
is The British Garden and those locales
that have a similar, maritime climate.
“Mid-February” for me, may be Mid-March for you.
If you live in Sapporo, Saskatoon, or Stockholm,
you may still have snow on the ground;
while folks in Australia will be preparing for autumn,
February is the time when each garden tool
should be inspected for wear, dirt, damage;
and for any sign of corrosion
in which stones or dents have caused blemishes
that might provide a starting point for rust.
Examine shovels and spades
– particularly the area to the rear of the shaft
where the handle meets the blade:
if the shovel, spade, or fork has been used to do any levering,
it is not unheard of for the metal to tear or break,
leaving cracks that will provide a foot-hold for rust.
1. While no tool should ever be put away dirty,
hot soapy water should now be used to wash away
any and all residual dirt that an earlier ‘once-over’
with the garden hose may have missed.
2. Dry the tool thoroughly.
3. For bladed tools such as secateurs and loppers ,
use a fine sharpening stone to bring a nicely honed edge
to the blade.
4. Finally, giving all metal parts a light rub
with an oiled cloth is rarely be a wasted effort.
Care and attention given now will mean that
when the tools are next picked up to be used,
we will lay hold on clean equipment
which invariably fosters greater enthusiasm
for the tasks involved in preparing the garden
for the upcoming year.
As encouragement for anyone who may
be contemplating gardening
as a replacement for a wasted existence
perusing the mental and moral sewage
on a television or Internet screen,
in preparing the garden as a place for
a rose collection,
the calming presence of goldfish or nishikigoi (‘Koi’) in garden pond,
or simply a place in which to relax with a fine book,
rest assured that a few basic, quality tools
are all that is required to get busy in the garden.
1. A Shovel or Garden Spade – “Border” versions
are smaller and easier to use.
2. A Rake with the head forged in one piece.
Again, a small “border” rake is smaller
and easier to use.
3. Secateurs – Felco of Switzerland make superb secateurs
for those who may not have opportunity to obtain fine Japanese tools.
Always choose by-pass secateurs: never the ‘anvil’ type which horribly
crush the plant, rather than make a clean cut.
4. A Trowel – choose a solid, robust trowel.
Hedging Shears: for those who require them.
The Hori Knife: is a wonderful, all-purpose tool.
A few tools and the desire to create
are all that is required to experience the physical,
mental, and moral exercise of working in the garden.
Fussing and fidgeting – taking care of them –
is all a part of the end-of-winter ritual
of being a diligent gardener.
Is there any way that I can encourage you
to set aside (or, better yet, throw away)
the techno-toys … and instead,
get out in the garden this year ?
I sincerely hope so.
I am certainly trying.
[ Related: Garden Portraits – A Pictorial Walk Through the Garden ]