For the gardener in your life who yearns to visit Sissinghurst, who chuckles at the antics of M.F.K. Fisher, who knows what John Innes No. 1 is and spells Buddleia with a j, we present a very special collection of garden tools and gifts this season. Endorsed by the Royal Horticulture Society (which is not only England’s largest garden organization but also its largest garden charity), the items in this collection come from the ancient firm of Burgon & Ball, which began operations in 1730 and is renowned for the quality and craftsmanship of its products. Every item comes with a warranty, and is designed for a lifetime of heavy use. We are honored to offer them to Park Seed customers, and we urge you to order today to avoid disappointment.
We must begin with the most exciting holiday gifts: the Passiflora Collection. Beautifully boxed in a print taken from a c. 1790 James Bolton painting housed in the Royal Horticulture Society’s Lindley Library, these tools are as lovely as they are functional. (They have won several awards already in England.) The rich eggplant — beg pardon, aubergine — shade of purple on the handles is strikingly handsome, and the blades are sharp carbon-forged steel. Best of all, the trowel is engraved with a quote from premier Victorian gardener and writer Gertrude Jekyll:
The love of gardening is a seed once sown, that never dies
Any gardener will thrill to have these tools in the wheelbarrow, and they are quite reasonably priced.
For the more practical minded, Burgon & Ball offers 4 hand tools also endorsed by the RHS. Far and away our favorite is the Widger, and not simply because of its irresistible name (though we did spend a lot of time calling out unnecessarily, “Hand me that widger!” and “What this job needs is a widger!”). The widger is a hybrid (but not a cultivar!) of a trowel and a dibbler. It goes deep, narrow, and straight into the soil, and we find it especially useful for working in containers. If you’ve ever tried to remove the rootball of one plant without dislodging all the others around it, you can imagine how useful the widger would be. It’s also great for creating a perfect deep hole, especially for small bulbs but also for burying the legs of tomato cages extra-deep in the soil. We discovered that it is the best dandelion-root extractor we have ever used — taproots don’t stand a chance against it. And if you turn it sideways, it cuts a straight furrow for planting seeds and marking rows.
Then there is the Potato Harvesting Scoop, another “where has this tool been all my life?” item that earned its keep the very first day in our garden. The genius of this one is the wide, flat end, which refuses to cut into vegetables, slice buried roots, or taper off into nothingness. It digs up potatoes and other root vegetables, yes, and it also sifts compost, loosens compacted soil and leaves, and clears a big wide space in the soil with a few masterful strokes.
The Shrub Rake is an item we have all wished for without imagining it actually existed. You know how sometimes you turn a big rake on its side and try to use just one or two tines on the end to pull something out of a small space? Or you fish around in the back of a plant or hedge with a pair of pruners to try and snag something you dropped back there? We have often wished for a pointy chopstick to spear a bit of trash stuck in the depths of a rose bush. The shrub rake is this small-space tool, nearly 16 inches long but just 5 inches wide, that gets into tight areas without destroying stems and puncturing leaves.
Finally, the Folding Pruning Saw is just what you need for overhead, awkward, and tough cutting jobs. While most saws are more powerful on the push stroke (making it hard to cut through high branches, for instance — they move higher and farther away from you when you push), the folding pruning saw works on the pull stroke. Each tooth of this blade has 3 separate cutting angles, giving you deeper cuts with every stroke, and shortening your work time. And the blade folds safely into its sheath for carrying and storage.
These RHS-endorsed tools are a lifetime investment in the garden, and all are impeccably crafted. The handles are hardwoods harvested from sustainably-managed forests, while the blades are carbon-forged steel. You simply can’t go wrong with Burgon & Ball; gardeners have trusted them for nearly 400 years. Give them as gifts and ask for them in your own stocking this season!