readers write in

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to bring you yet another post. You may remember me from such posts as “Stuff And Nonsense”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.
(I’m in the doorway.)
You can see how overcast, dry, and gloomy everything is. The guy I live with, besides complaining about how overcast, dry, and gloomy everything is, has been rethinking the idea of having so many native grasses in the back yard. I’m not sure how this will pan out, as they say. (The guy I live with said that was an old gold miner’s phrase; we live in a state where a lot of gold mining was done, and still is.)

Okay, so, anyway, you may find this a dumb and repetitive post, but considering the volume of mail we get asking about this and that (“Strangely”, the guy I live with said, “never about Opera Day”) I thought I would answer some questions about tools.

The guy I live with isn’t much into power tools. He has an Echo gas-operated trimmer, and an Ego battery-operated leaf blower, which he uses all the time, to blow fallen leaves off the raised beds and into the borders. It doesn’t make very much noise, but I still bark when it’s running.
The guy I live with really likes Ego tools, no nonsense about having to get gas all the time, and is thinking about getting one of their snow-throwers.

“But what about trimming the edges of the raised beds?”
The guy I live with uses these, which I think were made by Burgon & Ball.
He’s used sheep shears since, like, forever. His grandfather had some in the shed in his garden in Los Angeles. They make a very pleasant whisking sound. (He stuck the shears into the ground while using them and didn’t clean them off afterward.)

“Besides the grass sickle, what does he uses for cutting things down?”
These; they’re Japanese, and very high quality. Also, probably carbon steel, which takes an edge better than stainless steel. They came from Hida Tool.

“Do these get oiled?”
Yes, with camellia oil.

“What about loppers?”
These are Bahco, from France, for vineyards; the guy I live with’s wife bought these after doing a lot of research. They’ve been used a lot, and I mean a lot, since they were purchased.

“What about a favorite weeder?”
Any kind of nejiri kama, Japanese weeder.
The guy I live with’s wife used one of these, all the time. She loved weeding.
There are of course other weeders in the tool shed.

“What about a favorite trowel?”
This one, from Sweden. It was given to him by a friend who lived in Sweden. The guy I live with hasn’t heard from him in a while, but after his wife died so suddenly, a lot of people were uncomfortable talking to him, which he understands, but this is a pleasant memory of days gone by, and a wonderful trowel.

“What about garden twine?”
Japanese garden twine.
Also Nutscene, from England, which is hard to find in this country now. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time (and believe it or not, some people have) you’ll remember when Earl, the squirrel, stole the whole can of Nutscene for his nest.

“Since we’re talking about twine, what about knives?”
Opinel, from France. Pruning knife above, garden knife below.
The guy I live with’s wife had a smaller one, which she kept super sharp.

“Talking about sharpening, how does he sharpening pruners?”
With this, Pruna Mate from England, available from Garden Talk. This has lasted a very long time.
Really easy to use, and easy to get the blade sharpened quickly.

“The guy you live with uses Felcos?”
Well, yes, but there are also these. Tobisho, hand made. A next level up from everything else.
The guy I live with likes to talk to visitors about pruners, and then he hands them these, and has them cut something, and watches their expression.

“What about a favorite shovel?”
This, from Bulldog Tools in England.

“Are there any tools the guy you with live has purchased and then never used?”
Yes. This poacher’s spade, from Bulldog Tools. The guy I live with’s wife always wanted one, so one day, after she died, he bought one, and has never used it.

And that’s what I have for today. There are a lot of other tools in the shed, but these are some of his favorites.
I hope you found this at least a tiny bit interesting. You can see how much I did.

Until next time, then.

Posted in Uncategorized | 26 Comments

spring cleaning time

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to bring you up to date on various things. You may remember me from such posts as “Equinoxious Weather”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.You might be able to see how cut-down everything looks. Today was a nice day for working.

The guy I live with said there was a drawback to having all these native warm-season grasses in the garden, especially at this time of year, because they’re brown.
That little tree is the Prunus andersonii hybrid with purple leaves that’s going to be trialed for Plant Select, I think.
The guy I live with said he should plant some crocuses in the buffalo grass so things might not be so brown, though he doesn’t care all that much about that.
There are some crocuses, regular ones, in the grass now.
I think there should be more. Ones like ‘Snowbunting’, ‘Blue Pearl’, and so on.
The grass wouldn’t get mowed–if it gets mowed at all–after the crocus leaves wither in late spring.
It looks a little less brown where there are gravel paths.
Here’s a view across what used to be a rock garden, looking almost right into the sun. You might be able to see that the grass in the field is turning green.
There are quite a few crocuses in flower. This is Crocus ancyrensis ‘Golden Bunch’.
This is Crocus alatavicus.There was a lot of raking today, after the guy I live with came back from the store. I supervised.
Here I am supervising in another part of the garden.
Mostly what happened today was raking pine needle mulch off the bulbs, especially the cyclamen. This one should have had the mulch removed earlier.
The cyclamen without mulch are flowering, too, but the guy I live with was concerned about the soil freezing, the way it has the last few winters. The cyclamen don’t like that.
While the guy I live with was wandering around where the cyclamen are, I heard him say “Ha!”, which he only sometimes does. He said it was “A Holmesian cry of triumph.”
This is the Iranian snowdrop, Galanthus transcaucasicus, from the area around the southern Caspian Sea (Iran and Azerbaijan).
There’s another one a few feet away. I heard another “Ha!”.

So then he went to look at something else from Iran. A lot of common garden bulbs are from that part of the world, but he was especially interested in one thing.
He got distracted by seedlings of the central Asian onion, Allium pskemense. They’re kind of funny-looking.
But then there was another “Ha!”, when he found what he went over to look for, emerging leaves of Colchicum haussknechtii. Some say this is a synonym for C. persicum.
Even though this has been a long, rough winter, and we’re still supposed to get more cold weather later this week, the guy I live with was very pleased to see these leaves. There’s another corm pushing up leaves a little distance away.
They had a rough first winter because they were planted so late, but they made it through that winter, and this last one, too.
But seeing these emerging plants made everything we’ve had to endure lately seem like it was almost worth it.

So, dear friends, that’s my post for today. They say it might rain tomorrow. It rained for about fifteen seconds last night. I guess we’ll see about tomorrow and the coming days.

Until next time, then.

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments