Yardwork is Three Times More Expensive This Way

On Friday I talked about a misadventure involving my loppers. In order to cut the trunks of that big ficus in the living room, I needed to go out to the garage and get my loppers–ordinary pruning shears weren’t going to get that job done.

So I went out to the garage and brought them in and realized that I had a problem the moment that I opened the handles and the blades didn’t move–that’s never a good situation.

A closer look immediately showed me what had happened: the handles and the blades were no longer attached because someone–not me, obviously because I spent the summer being very careful not to do anything that would disrupt the surgery to my eye and this clearly involved a lot of force–had forced these loppers to cut something well beyond their capacity. Very sad.

I know just the culprit too.

The Spoiler hires a series of folks to assist with yardwork. He’s definitely no longer capable of yardwork in any way. I have spent my last two summers out of commission healing from one surgery or other, so for all intents and purposes, neither have I been, for the most part.

But because of this–and because my complete inability to supervise at all this summer because the surgery was on my eye and I had to be face down for longer than I cared to–crazy things got done and in crazy ways as well.

And my tools either got broken, or in some instances, have completely disappeared–which, of course, I don’t discover until I need them.

It’s frustrating and at times expensive as well.

But the alternative is to live in an overgrown jungle–which isn’t an good alternative either. At least the Spoiler tried to help.

But as we all know, with things like gardening, “outsourcing” is rarely as good as doing it yourself.

Tools of the Trade

I mentioned Friday that the way I had my house plants set up made my steps feel more like Italy (at least in my vivid imagination) than New England.

But to achieve the nice effect that am going for when I sit out there–or to ensure that I can relax and not pick at weeds the entire time–there’s a job that I need to do just about this time of year and I need some specific tools for that.


These are my 3 weeding and digging tools (and you can see by the edges of the photo what I will be weeding!)

I generally start with the orange-handled tool. It’s called a crack weeder and it’s really useful for getting in between the bluestone pavers that make up the walkway.

The blue handled tool was gifted to me by its manufacturer. It’s called a Cobrahead. They make it in short and long handled versions. I find it incredibly useful for weeding around plants. It works great in my heavy clay soil too.

The tan handled tool is one of my favorites for weeding larger areas and for digging smaller holes. It cuts through my clay soil like a hot knife through butter.

It’s so efficient that it must be in great demand. This is my third one. I have had 2 stolen from my garage.


And speaking of stolen, these are my pruners. I once had a lovely set of Felco pruners, but they were stolen with the first Asian hand plow. So I no longer buy expensive pruners just to have my garden tools walk away.

I have had to replace the crack weeder once as well. That too mysteriously disappeared.

It’s only the small hand tools that walk (thank goodness, I suppose) but it’s really aggravating to discover that your tool is missing when you need it.

And as for keeping the garage doors open? The Spoiler doesn’t think we have a problem. And since his tools never go missing, he’s not likely to shut them any time soon.

So I will be keeping my Asian hand plow in the house so that I know where to find it when I need it.

An App for Sun and Shade

Those of you who have been reading for awhile know that I am more likely to leave my cellphone in the house than to take it outside with me. I am definitely not a digital native. So take all of what I say with that in mind.

I had thought that an app for sun and shade, appropriately called Sun and Shade Analyzer, or SASHA for short, might be quite useful in my mostly shady yard. I was particularly interested in the feature that would “predict” shade–in other words, even though it’s just mid-April now, it would tell me what the light would be like when the trees had leafed out.

That’s going to be useful to any gardener. I know that every year, I tend to underestimate the amount of shade that my big dogwood out front throws once it fully leafs out. Luckily, I am only doing so with containers that can be relocated, but imagine if I were planting under it!

But what I found was that I am too impatient to let the app load properly. I stood on my driveway for almost half an hour and it wasn’t fully loaded for my property (no, I don’t have dial up internet. I wonder if trying it on a Saturday in the midst of a pandemic made it slower?)

So while the features might be useful, I can’t stand out in the sun and wait for them. What little I did see looks interesting.

I also was not able to set the date to a date much earlier than May 16. Perhaps that’s full leaf out in my climate (I would argue that it’s a bit earlier, but fine.) I suspect that the point is that the app wanted to show me where the shading would be in full leaf.

But when I was standing under a tree throwing shade and the app is telling me that the shade would be somewhere completely different in a month, that’s when I get a bit skeptical. Hmm….

All in all, this is a useful tool, particularly for those of us that garden in a lot of shade (especially if you’re more patient than I am). It’s $4.99 in the Google play store from Hook Mountain (so far as I know, it is not available for Apple phones yet). And yes, I did buy it.

I will try it again. Perhaps I will try loading it when I get up at the crack of dawn. Less internet traffic….

More Sabi Than Wabi?


From here, the clay pot at the top of the 3 pots doesn’t look so bad, does it?


You knew,  however,  with a  title like “more Sabi than wabi” that something was wrong.  This is the top view of the pot–the one that made the Spoiler ask if I were throwing everything away.

This pot is a Guy Wolff pot. But even if it weren’t,  it’s still functional.  I am sure none of you noticed this huge imperfection all summer when I had the mandevilla growing in it. Here’s a shot of what that looked like.


The pink mandevilla is just beyond the geranium/sweet potato vine combo. And yes, you can partly see a chunk out of the side of the pot even in this photo.  But do you? No–not unless I call your attention to it.

And that’s why I keep the pot. It’s one of my favorites.

Wordless Wednesday–Timeless Tools

new tools

I’m a sucker for new tools. Look at these beauties! I almost hate to get them dirty! But they will be well-worn in in no time I’m sure.

I found them on the web site of P. Allen Smith. Not sure how the rest of you gardeners feel about him. I was privileged to take part in the taping of his radio show when he came to Hartford a few years back for a Connecticut Horticulture Symposium. A couple of night’s before the actual symposium–which was jointly sponsored by the Mark Twain House, one of our local treasures–he taped his radio show at the property with some CHS members. It was then that I realized that he was, for lack of a better phrase, the “real deal.”

In any event, I found these tools on his website. It’s always a pleasure to use tools with real wooden handles. The snips I will probably try to restrain myself and keep inside (although once I have a tool in my hand and start moving around, who knows where I end up, particularly in warm weather!) I find this sort of tool is particularly great for herbs as well.

Not sure what I’ll do with the secateurs. I have enough house plants that they could remain strictly an indoor tool as well.  I’ll have to see.

The weeder clearly will not be an indoor tool! I was trilled to find this. I have a similar tool, but it doesn’t have the slightly curved tip. It’s great for weeding in between my slate walk. It’s also nice if you want to run it horizontally just under the soil to cut out the weeds and bring them up–you don’t disturb a lot of soil (and as you know from last week, I’m all about not disturbing the soil!)

I was a little disturbed that the instructions said that it was great for rooting out moss. Who on earth would want to do that? But to each his or her own, I guess.