Garden Lore

“This morning Thea saw to her delight that the two oleander trees, one white and one red, had been brought up from their winter quarters in the cellar. There is hardly a German family in the most arid parts of Utah, New Mex­ico, Arizona, but has its oleander trees. However loutish the American­-born sons of the family may be, there was never one who refused to give his muscle to the back-­breaking task of getting those tubbed trees down into the cellar in the fall and up into the sunlight in the spring. They may strive to avert the day, but they grapple with the tub at last.”

Willa Cather The Song of the Lark (1915)

Garden Tools

Is it worth buying expensive garden tools? A top of the range garden implement can cost as much as 10 times the price of the cheap alternative. I know this, having bought my Canberra daughter a pruning saw for Christmas. I doubt that it is worth buying the best for beginners. Maybe go a step up from the absolute bottom end price on the display stand, but just as you wouldn’t buy a Porsche or a Volvo for a learner driver, the beginner doesn’t need the top of the range.

For genuinely enthusiastic or experienced gardeners, yes. It is worth every cent to buy the best. Expensive garden tools are generally better designed, better constructed, hold sharp edges for longer and are more efficient to use. A good pair of secateurs will last for many years, beyond a decade even if you don’t lose them, whereas a cheapie pair will deteriorate badly after just a few months. Quality trowels don’t bend out of shape when put under a bit of pressure. Quality spades and shovels don’t bend at the stress point where the shaft is attached. Nor do good quality tools rust.

It should go without saying that if you happen to have some good quality tools in your possession, you should treat them with respect and look after them. After struggling to prune my daughter’s camellias with her cheap and nasty pruning saw, I bought her the very best and it cost about $A120. I have told her that it must be put back in its sheath every single time, even between cuts, to keep it sharp.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.