Thursday, 14 April 2011

The joy of hand tools


There’s no denying the usefulness of powered tools in the garden. And while electric models are inexpensive to buy and light in use, the threats of cutting through a power cord, running out of battery charge mid-way through a job, or having proceedings called to an end by a sudden downpour, makes their petrol engined counterparts far more useful. But...so noisy! Not to mention smelly and, let’s face it, not ideal on the environmental front.


Ok, hand tools might be much slower in many cases, but not, it must be said, in all. I’m beginning to suspect that many of us reach too quickly for the power tool, when its finely crafted and well balanced manual counterpart would be a more appropriate solution. Of course, there’s an obvious commercial benefit to being able to do a job quickly, and no doubt the powered tools come in handy in this respect, but there seems to be something slightly incongruous about having to wear ear defenders in such a natural setting as a garden. I wonder how many clients will be happier to forgo the racket and emissions of, for example, my excellent petrol leaf blower, in favour of seeing their gardener working quietly but no less efficiently with a finely honed ash-handled rake and a broom.

I know which I’d rather use. I prefer a more civilised approach – one which doesn’t require all the neighbours to dash indoors and close all the windows – and I think it only sensible to put my trust in the hundreds of years of experience which has handed down to gardeners today tools which are perfectly designed and eminently suited to the tasks for which they are intended.

So, while I can’t promise never to use powered tools – time and cost to both my clients and to my business would dictate otherwise – I think it’s safe to say that they won’t be my default first choice for every task.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Spring is sprung...


Spring is sprung
Da grass is riz
I wonder where dem boidies iz
Da little boids is on da wing
Ain't dat absoid
Da little wings is on da boid

Anon.

Spring has most certainly sprung, and the grass is definitely riz, at least everywhere except the patches where it’s been worn out by being trampled into a soggy clay quagmire over the winter months. Nothing a smart bit of seeding and feeding won’t mend and, anyway, I have plans for a brick path that will stand up to the rigours of year-round traffic more robustly. So, shears, strimmer and mower have all been given their first outing of the year this week – it could have been a little earlier, but I don’t have the heart to brutalise the celandine Ranunculus ficaria which merrily rampages its way through the lawns and borders at this time of year. It’s such a positive little flower, appearing as it does around the time that the clocks go forward, giving us an extra hour of daylight in the evenings.

And as for the boidies, they’re making the most of all the digging we’re doing, not to mention the recent pollarding of the ash tree which has unveiled all manner of juicy critters to feast upon. And it can only be a few weeks before we’re beset by gangs of comedy starlings, which always brings a smile.