Tools For The Cottage Garden

English Garden

My neighbors know my favorite garden tools are old silverware and my fingers. I’m Old School.

But there are 10 traditional cottage garden tools that make life in the garden easier. This season I’m breaking down and purchasing them.

1.  A Spade and Fork – Essential for digging and lifting the soil. I’ve been making do with a child-sized shovel from Home Depot. It’s time to get serious. I’m moving up to a child-sized spade and fork from Clarington Forge.  These tools are made in England and have heads made from a single piece of steel. The heads are securely riveted to an ash shaft. They are exceptionally strong and are backed by a lifetime guarantee. Much better than my old spoon.

Spade and Fork

Spade and Fork

2. Hoes – I’m going with a flat bottomed Dutch hoe that’s good for digging and weeding. In the early days of cottage gardening, hoes were the main tools used, although in much heavier versions. You may recall seeing them depicted in older English paintings.

Hoes

Hoes

3.  A Hand Trowel and Hand Fork –  If you can only afford one set of the finest garden tools, buy these. They may be the only tools you really need!

Clarington Gift Set

Clarington Gift Set

4.  A Rake – A rake is another tool that performs a multitude of garden tasks.

Rake

Rake

5.  Pruning Shears – I have about 5 pairs of pruning shears, from a big lopper to a tiny pruner. I’ll probably buy another one this year! All of mine are bypass secateurs which have two blades, like scissors.  I use them on all my plants as they are gentle and do not damage the fragile stems.

Bypass Pruners

Bypass Pruners

6.  Gloves – A good pair of gardening gloves is essential when pruning roses or anything with thorns. Also crucial if you want to avoid poison ivy.

Gloves

Gloves

7.  A Wheelbarrow – I couldn’t live without a wheelbarrow. Mine is a large plastic number, not vintage or beautiful but essential for composting the beds.

wheelbarrow

8.  A Watering Can – I collect rainwater for my container plants. And it looks good in a cottage garden!

watering can

9.  A Planting Dibber – This tool is useful for anyone looking to plant a large amount of seeds or small transplants.

Planting Dibber

Planting Dibber

10. A Trug – Okay, maybe not a necessity, but it sure is gorgeous!

A Cottage Garden Trug

A Cottage Garden Trug

Pruning Roses And Flying Bees

Sunrise on Columbia Parkway

Sunrise on Columbia Parkway

It’s a gorgeous day on Columbia Parkway! The sun is shining and it’s almost 60 degrees F. It’s perfect for doing yard cleanup, putting down some compost and checking on my bees.

I noticed this morning that my rose bushes are starting to bud. Time to do some much needed late winter pruning!

005

Winter pruning is important for the well-being of roses, as it stimulates the growth of new shoots which will provide flowers.

The best time to prune is just as spring growth starts. It’s not a good idea to wait until the new young shoots are a few inches long as this wastes the plant’s energy and will delay flowering.

The basics of pruning

The first step is easy. Cut out any shoots that are dead and diseased. Spores on these stems can easily reinfect the new shoots in spring so removing them will help with disease control. Also cut out any stems that are particularly weak or rubbing against each other

The next step is to prune the remaining stems.  Most roses benefit from moderate pruning, reducing the height by 1/4 to 3/4. I usually trim about 1/3 of the average height of the stems.

If you have the time you can make sure to prune just above the bud and at a slight angle away from the bud. The angle of the cut is more of an issue for Hybrid Teas and Floribundas as they can be more susceptible to die back than shrub roses. I do make sure that my secateurs are clean and sharp.

Once you have finished pruning your roses it’s important to clean up all the cut stems and fallen leaves as they can carry disease onto the next season.

Then apply a good layer of mulch such as garden compost or well rotted manure. No bark mulch please!! This will help to bury any spores left on the soil surface, keep the soil moist and cool, prevent weeds from germinating and feed the microorganisms in the soil.

007

After I finished pruning, I checked in on my bees. They were flying like crazy!

I was delighted to see they were collecting pollen, not just out for a warm weather potty visit.

016

018

017

I’m adding a third hive this year, so I’m moving the original hive to the bottom of the garden. Moving day is tomorrow! I’ll be sure and let you know how it goes…