Burnett: Favourite gardening tools require care and attention
Just think if we gardeners had to perform our tasks without the aid of tools.
Tasks such as digging, raking, hoeing and for sure pruning would be impossible to do.
I suppose the first primitive tool may have been a sharpened stick that was used to work the ground up.
Then over the next few thousand years, clever gardeners invented better and better implements to make their jobs easier.
Everyone has their favourite gardening tool, perhaps two or three of them, and such tools are usually easy to spot because they are the ones that show the most wear.
Some of my tools have become favourites simply because I’ve become attached to them, something like our Maytag washer and dryer that we got when we were first married and the pair gave good service for more than 40 years.
With laundry machines, they just don’t seem to make them like they used to—and the same goes for gardening tools.
However, it does help if the tool was of good quality in the beginning, such as my pair of Felco shears I bought in 1972.
While I should treat myself to a nice new pair of shears, whenever I try them out the new ones, they just don’t have the same feel as the well-worn shears I’ve carried on my belt all these years.
At least twice a year I lovingly take them apart to be cleaned and sharpened. Even a new pair of Felco shears will not perform well if in poor condition.
Favourite tools are often those handed down from parents or other relatives and are used in the beginning mainly to feel the vibes of the person they once belonged to.
I have my dad’s old buck knife that I carry in my pocket as well as his pocket lens engraved with his initials.
Another tool I cherish is an antique spading fork with a wooden “D” handle given to me by Ruth Rushton, a customer who dealt with our garden centre for many years and someone I often helped with gardening concerns at her Okanagan Mission property.
One day while I was doing just that, she asked me to come to her garden shed because she had something for me—a spading fork that she remembered her dad using when she was a child.
That tool dates back probably to around the turn of the 19th century and I think of her every time I use it today.
Another of my favourites is one I inherited from my good friend Charlie Faulkner; a stirrup hoe that belonged to his dad.
It is a prime example of a tool made from the very best steel in its day.
My wife Donna has her own favourite garden tools—a simple hand-held weeder and a three pronged cultivator.
Donna weeds as if she were planting, only backwards, by gently working the root system with her weeding tool enabling the complete removal of the weed, then combing the soil smooth with her cultivator.
Just the opposites of favourite tools are the ones that never get used and take up valuable space in the garden shed.
Those ones should be thrown into the garage sale and perhaps one day become someone else’s favourite gardening tool.