A few of my favorite things…

This is officially the first full day of fall but I’m not ready to put the garden to sleep for the winter.  No way! Daylight hours will shorten but there’s plenty of garden left to enjoy on the Seacoast of New Hampshire. In fact, fall may be my favorite season. Late blooming flowers, shrubs at peak, and happier grass with cooler temps… all good.

Limelight hydrangea blooms have become a focal point, turning from spring green and summer white to shades of pink and burgundy. Aralia cordata”Sun King” is finally opening its spikes of snow white flowers, purple spikes of liriope muscari blooms attract the late season bees. There is wonderful texture in spent flowers, too… the clethra, the echinacea, the baptisia seed pods, the butterfly weed pods… all display lovely seed heads and the viburnum, juniper, and holly are displaying colorful berries that are being gobbled up by migrating birds. It’s a wonderful time of the year.

I’ve been working as usual around our small garden. With rains and morning dew, it’s a perfect time to overseed the lawn, and it’s time to divide grasses, day lilies, iris, plus a great time to transplant shrubs.  I’ve designed a new sweep of dwarf Russian sage that should become a sea of purple next summer. Finally bulbs that are on order from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs go in the ground in the coming weeks. Yes, I’m in the garden every day!

We all have our favorite garden tools. In my years of gardening, I’ve used a multitude of tools… some expensive, some not. I have a garage full of rakes, hoes, pitchforks, loppers, etc. but I thought it would be fun to share the tools I use daily for gardening these days.

Below are the shoes I use the most… an old LLBean pair… that stay in the garage. I have tried the rubber clogs and the British wellies but fall back to this pair every time. They were once indoor shoes, a lovely Christmas gift from a son many years ago. I think of him every time I slip them on.

Garden Shows

These micro-tip pruning snip from Fiskars are used daily for precision snipping to deadhead or to cut fresh flowers. They were recommended by a horticulturist who spoke to our Virginia master gardeners. I was immediately sold and bought one of the few he brought with him. One side is serrated and the other side a blade. They came with a sheath that clips onto my pocket or waistband. I’m never without them in the garden.


When I opened the Christmas gift (below) from my daughter, my first thought was “weapon.” I wondered if she thought I needed to cut sugar cane, but, no. She insisted this tool would replace several that I cart around the garden. Darn if she wasn’t right!

I’d never heard of a Japanese Hori-Hori knife but that master gardener daughter in Kentucky certainly had. It’s multi-purpose gardening tool that I use all the time. It’s great for popping up a dandilion, but it’s also great for planting small plants in the spring and bulbs in the fall. I can slice open bags of mulch, it easily divides plants, and I can rough up roots on pot-bound plants. It has a blade on one edge and a serrated edge on the other.  This tool I recommend to all gardeners!

Hori Hori Knife

Talk about tough gloves… these Atlas gloves wear like a second skin and the thick coating of Nitrile makes them stronger than rubber! Nitrile is also used in super glue and that says a lot. Just throw them in the washing machine and they clean up beautifully. I own a dozen pairs, a gift from another gardening daughter when I accepted employment at a local nursery. She knew best!


I love a good sturdy bucket. It is a versatile tool for moving mulch and soil, grass seed, carting tools, collecting weeds and spent blooms, gathering flowers for arranging, and turn it over and it’s a stepping stool for reaching the bird feeder or deadheading tall blooms from the arbor. I bought two of these tough 8-quart horse buckets at a tack store at least 10 years ago and they are constantly in use.


Finally, the magic shovel… it belonged to my mother, a dedicated gardener and gifted designer and horticulturist. The handle is worn smooth and even a little thin in places. It has a pointed tip, quite sharp, and becomes my tool of choice for edging, transplanting, turning soil or compost. There’s a tiny scar on the blade where it wore too thin. We found a welder nearby to “heal” the blade and it continues to work its magic.

Mother's Shovel

We all have favorite garden tools. Are there ones you couldn’t live without?

8 thoughts on “A few of my favorite things…

    • That sounds like Work (with a capital W). I bet your shovel is a lot bigger than my small garden shovel. I have one like the one you probably used and it’s only used for digging deep holes or moving a lot of mulch/dirt. Work! Once your project is completed, you will feel triumphant and satisfied and pleased!


    • Oh dear! If that happened to me, I might wear socks, too. I used to get horrible poison ivy around my ankles but seem to have developed a resistance in old age. No socks for me until yellow jackets attack… 🐝

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You’ve convinced me to finally get a hori hori knife. I could not garden without my Muck Boot slip on shoes and one of my assortment of Wilcox All-Pro stainless steel trowels, made in USA. I’ve been addicted to my Joyce Chen red handled scissors but will try the Fiskars.


    • I feel a little like a samurai warrior marching around the garden with my hori-hori, but it’s all good. The Wilcox trowels are fabulous! Muck boot shoes should work for me but so far they are stored with the seldom used garden tools. 😌


  2. I share many of your garden helpers. Although I use Atlas gloves, they tend to smell, even after a toss into the laundry. Finally, I hand scrubbed them with hot water and dish soap, and this helped. The horse buckets are workers in the garden. I slit open a padded sleeve and use to soften the handle. I could use a new hand pruner, as next month I will be hand pruning my Green Velvet and Green Mountain buxus, just in time for wreath and kissing ball making! Happy fall! We are still in the 80’s here and very dry in central VA. I do hope that this is not the new norm for VA. Diane


    • That’s interesting about your Atlas gloves. I don’t have that problem. But I must admit that half the time I wear no gloves at all. I love having my hands in the soil! You’ll probably use larger pruners for your boxwood pruning. Perfect greens for wreaths and kissing balls. You must sell them at market, yes?


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