Most serious gardeners don’t lust after garden gewgaws—they need and appreciate good tools. Here’s my list of the ‘essential’ gardening accoutrements, plus two ideas for living gifts:
Felco #6 Hand Pruners. Simply the best pruners ever! Designed for smaller hands, these ‘Felcos’ have a superb ergonometric design that provides more force than other designs, enabling easy cuts through hardwood nearly an inch in diameter. Engineered to last a lifetime, replacement parts are also easily available. Your lucky recipient will also need a scabbard, available with a holster for a sharpening stone.
Silky Hand Saw. Another tool with a delicate appearance that belies its ability to do a LOT of work. This is a Japanese style saw—with a very thin blade, and three facets cutting teeth to cut through green branches or seasoned lumber with ease. Japanese style pruning saws work with a pull stroke: if you push, the blade can easily snap. They are also exceedingly sharp—so use with caution. Folding types allow for safe storage.
“Little Hoe” Another tool that quickly becomes indispensable. Also of Japanese design, the cutting edges are sharp enough cut through small roots—and drip tubing if you aren’t careful. We use this tool mostly for ‘fluffing’ soil and removing weeds, while the fork side is great for grooming leaves from shrubs and perennials. The longer-handled version is a real back-saver too!
Fishers Pruning Tools: Clever engineering makes even tough pruning jobs easy. The 21” handle loppers are gear driven, so can do the work of much bigger tools. The ‘pruning stik” is chain driven, with a capacity of 1-¼” It has a rotating cutter head, allowing for a clean cut angled perfectly with the branch collar.
Blueberries: Thinking of a living gift? There is one plant no gardener ever has enough of, a beautiful shrub in its own right, and always suitable for containers…..Blueberries! For varieties, my preference is “Southmoon” although “Misty” and “Sunshine” are great too. You can either purchase a commercial ‘ARC’ (Azalea-Rhododendron-Camellia) potting mix, or make your own: such as 70% fir compost, 15% horticultural lava and 15% compost, plus a quarter cup organic ARC food blended in. Glazed containers are always preferable—or even plastic, but don’t use tera cotta as it dries out too quickly. Blueberries need lots of water, and bright sun. A treasure on any patio!
This wonderful establishment has transformed gardening in our zone. Annie’s grows many rare and unusual plants, plus a great selection of some wonderful old varieties, many of which have been sadly neglected in commercial horticulture. They offer classes too, and have abundant information. Check out their website for ideas!http://www.anniesannuals.com/