Garden Forever
Whatchamacallits and Thingamajigs
by Carla Allen

Driving home from the post office last week I happened to glance in a yard to see a woman on her hands and knees plunging a hand trowel in at the base of a clump of daylilies. A young couple stood by, patiently waiting. "Ah," I thought, "she's digging up a piece to give to them." I winced as I thought of the tool this gardener had been using. Daylily roots are notoriously tough and using a flimsy little hand trowel to divide them would be akin to trying to extract a nail from a board using a pair of tweezers.

Thus the birth of an idea for this week's column. And you wonder where I get all of my ideas! I would have loved to have introduced this lady to the joys of owning a good heavy mattock. I've wielded one every spring for more than a decade - swinging it deftly into the ground to slice matted hosta roots, daylilies, extract stubborn rocks or loosen especially heavy soil.

The mattock is also known as a grubbing hoe. On one end it has a thick, heavy duty hoe; on the other, a pick. Its total weight is about 5 pounds, but there is a smaller model on the market now that weighs less than half that for use on smaller areas. You swing it as you would a pick, to break up very hard soils and grub out rocks and roots. It's a wonderful tool, one that I would miss sorely should I lose it!

Another tool which has proven itself to be a pure delight to use year after year is a transplant spade, sometimes called a `rabbiting' spade. These are narrower than traditional shovels and perfect for working in a confined area.They have a nice long blade that enables you to dig deeply to lift out long, tap rooted plants with minimal disturbance.

An indispensible tool for me is a hand cultivator. I wander about the gardens with it permanently attached to my hand during daylight hours each spring. I stop to scratch and loosen weed roots for easier pulling, use it to beat soil from the roots of plants for dividing and work fertilizer gently around the base of emerging perennials.

I don't have a pair of garden clogs yet, but wouldn't mind having a set. They're popular with European gardeners, who love being able to slip them on and off their feet with a minimum of fuss. You can find them in all sorts of colours nowadays. They are perfect footwear for the garden as all one has to do to clean them is hose them off or wipe them clean.

Garden cloches have been used for more than 400 years to protect plants from frost and wind. Recently they've come back in fashion. Though price prohibits their use to cover mass quantitites of plants, they would be an aid for small groups. Perhaps you want to place cloches over half a dozen tomatoes to give them an exceptional start at the beginning of the season. These bell-shaped glass covers are made from heavy, recycled glass.

A garden trug is a desirable item for your toolshed as well. Its appearance however, carries a definite `Old World' charm and it is probably better placed as an ornament in the house. These are traditionally crafted after a popular British design that was originally presented to Queen Victoria. They are great for gathering flowers, garden produce or as a base for table arrangements.

If you enjoy browsing through good garden tool catalogues, here is an excellent company you can call toll free: Gardenscape Tools 1-888-472-3266

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Whatchamacallits and Thingamajigs is a copyrighted article by the author, Carla Allen, who has kindly given Garden Forever permission to publish it on our website. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of Carla Allen is strictly forbidden.