I like things to contain memories, be it the dents, knocks and general smoothness of age and ware or the warped wood of an old rake bent from use. I find these things pleasurable – almost as much as the actual task I am carrying out sometimes.
Garden Tools are often thought of as a means to a gardening end, the hedge trimmer or the leaf rake, border fork or spade – often selected at price point and not for their own intrinsic beauty. But if we stop and consider that these are the tools of our trade, and we craft our gardens, our own paradise with them then it might be that selecting these implements becomes based not solely on how much they may cost and how efficient they are but also on how we feel when interacting with them and the stories we can imagine they could tell.
I am not in anyway elitist about tools, they don’t all have to have seen action for 100 years. There is as much pleasure in finding an old D handled clay spade at a flea market as there is in purchasing a new gleaming border spade with comfortable wide strips of metal for you’re feet to push on for years to come.
Hand forks are one of the tools which we become most intimate with-they can mark you with the stigmata of error quickly so choose wisely and comfortably it will after all be in you’re hands for may hours and slowly like the seasons turning the handle and your hand will merge into one comfortable union seamlessly working together on the task at hand.
Of course the other wonderful aspect to falling in love with gardening tools is they don’t always have to see active service – in the garden which is design conscious old watering cans nestled amongst pots and in corners can add a sense of continued use.
Garden Tools, oiled, clean and hung on potting shed walls often have an engaging quality which far outlasts that of modern wall art. Turfing irons, rakes and edging irons have sculptural qualities which can easy go over looked without a little display and its not just old worn tools which look good like this, a row of stainless border forks with light ash handles can easily be displayed and used.
I have concentrated on hand tools a lot, they are extremely accessible not only in use with most gardeners but also easy to display and incorporate into the design of any garden. Machinery tools, old lawn mowers, wooden carts, sack trucks and larger items are not always so easy but well worth including – I recently made a outdoor coffee table with a Victorian Sack truck and remember seeing old tin baths once used to sterilise soil hung with horizontal planks as high decorative and utilitarian seats.
So next time you pick up your garden trowel and set to work or see a tool which speaks to you to become a gardening companion take up its offer you wont regret it and its an investment which will pay dividends.