While watching the Landscaper enjoying himself cruising around the orchard on the ride-on while I attacked the interior of our concrete pond with a wire bush, it occurred to me that not being au fait with much of the garden machinery was a foolish choice.
Were I able to gas-up the ride-on, start it, engage the mulcher and select the blade height without having to call pathetically for assistance, I would be the one wearing the earmuffs, sunnies and smile as I mowed the lawn.
The same applies to the weedeater. It looks like tremendous fun if for no other reason than you can make such a big difference in just a few seconds. Yes, I do accept that a novice can make a big difference to the wrong something, like the pristine edge of the lavender bed.
Even the push mower has its appeal. For one thing, you have to push it, which improves muscle development, general fitness and burns calories.
So the other day, before the Landscaper left to deal with someone else's lawn, I requested a quick lesson on how to run the push mower, and midway through the afternoon I pulled the cord and made a start.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten to seek information on how to empty and re-attach the catcher, so after dumping the first lot of clippings I proceeded without the catcher and made a huge mess which the Landscaper had to rake up when he got home.
I'm no good with complicated gear that has clips, buttons, strings, levers or any moving parts, so until I have completed Noisy Dangerous Machinery 101, I will continue to rely on a selection of small but perfectly formed inanimate tools.
I try to update at least some of them every spring and this year I am determined to have a very sexy pair of stainless steel secateurs, made from hardened carbon steel. I've seen a pair for about $45 that come with a 10-year guarantee, so if you keep them safe from Certain People who leave them lying about and then run them over with the lawnmower, they are probably a good investment. (I've seen an American pair with oak handles that I am sure could be bought online as a Christmas gift).
To go with them, I'm after a pair of light, supple, thorn-proof, sting-proof, dirt-proof, waterproof, washable garden gloves with a locator beacon. I'd also quite like them to leap out of the drawer whenever they see me heading for the garden, since I rarely remember to put them on until I'm elbow deep in compost.
I will also be buying a bunch of three-pronged cultivators. They're essential for scraping off shallow rooted, ground-cover type weeds, aerating the soil around plants and, best of all, combing the dead foliage out of grasses. Needless to say I need two or three pairs because they have a tendency to liberate themselves from my shed and get into the Landscaper's stationwagon.
The same applies to tin watering cans. Any garden larger than half an acre needs at least three, and more if Certain People take them to work. It's fun to pick them up in secondhand shops. Before you know it, you'll have a collection. I will not have to replace one of the handiest tools of all time - my child's garden shovel. I've never understood why shovels have such long, unwieldy handles. My dwarf version is the height of a toddler, is light as a feather and perfect for digging over the soil in raised beds and saving my back. Even better, it's a very fetching lime green with little blue flowers, so Certain People who think it's really silly never borrow it.