I've been thinking a lot about reducing the amount of STUFF that surrounds me, paring things, like clothes and shoes and books and oh, I dunno baking equipment - down to the essential. And it struck me that I don't seem to have the same hoarding problem with garden tools. Over the years I've whittled things down to just what I need, and what serves me. So I thought I would share my essential pieces, so that if any of you were thinking of treating yourselves to something for the garden it might inspire you. Having said that though, it's a very personal thing - lots of gardeners will think I am mad putting a 'widger' at the top of my list, I had a gardener friend once who said she absolutely couldn't garden unless she had a hand fork with her, and couldn't understand anyone who said otherwise. I duly went and got myself a hand fork, which gets used about twice a year (if that). Anyway, for what it's worth, here are the first three of my top six.
I've had this trowel thing for years. I own other trowels but I hardly ever use them. This one is not for digging holes per say, it is best for weeding out perennials like bindweed...chasing those brittle roots to their core and removing them complete (can you tell I'm getting a bit excited about the thought of that?) It's the only thing I use, other than a hoe, when I'm weeding. My widger is from Burgon and Ball but there are others available (this one from Spear and Jackson looks almost identical and is a little cheaper.
2. My secutaurs.
This is a non-negotiable; you need a pair, whether you're gardening on a windowsill or a massive garden. It doesn't matter what brand they are, as long as they're sharp and they feel good in your hand. Mine are P94 PowerGear Pruners from Fiskars (they’re the guys who make those awesome kitchen scissors, which I heartily recommend) and I love them. Keep them sharp with a stone (basically like an emery board for knives) - you can find all the products I use for tool cleaning and sharpening here.
3. My shears.
I use these for clipping topiary and trimming hedges and climbers, and cutting back perennials at the end of the season, and sometimes for dead-heading many-flowered things. I love them. they are called Oskatune shears and they are from Niwaki - expensive but I've had rather too many bad pairs in the past for this to bother me in the slightest. I have other Niwaki things, because a good tool is a pleasure to use, always.