Category Archives: Pruners


On Wednesday we traveled to Vargeneville sur la Mer

On the Normandy Coast

To visit the Mallet sisters

Claire and Constance

And their homes and gardens.


Claire lives on the family estate

Le Bois de Moutiers

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Built by her ancestors

One of whom was a Haviland.

As in china.

Gardens and china.

I’m in double heaven.

It was designed by the then young British architect

Edwin Lutyens in the Arts & Crafts style.

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It’s a splendid house

A home really.

Unlike many period homes I’ve toured

This one was inviting


Full of life and light

Streaming into the house

Through large and plentiful windows

And back out with a view of the forest

Leading to the sea.


The grounds and the gardens

Were designed by Lutyens and the owner Guillaume Mallet

In conjunction with Gertrude Jekyll

The renowned English garden designer

Who brought us the perennial border


And a more relaxed feel to gardens



The garden is walled

And divided

With crisp clipped yew hedges.

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There are sweeping perennial borders

Doing what they do best.

Amaze and inspire.

Claire is tall and stately

And ever so gracious

Walking the garden with us

Pruners in hand

Snipping away as she goes.


She reminds me of my friend Nancy


Full of grace.

She tells us the stories of how the home and garden

Came to be.

Of the war years when it was occupied.

Of the art

And family treasures

That have been sold

To help pay for the upkeep of the estate.

When my family was struggling with

What to do with the family farm

Hers was having the same conversation

On another continent.


From Claire’s home

We traveled to see Constance.

At 85 she gardens 4 -5 hours a day.

I like this lady.

She is shorter

More casual

And fun.


Her garden reflects her personality

Less formal

Wild in areas


And on a smaller scale.

Widowed for 20 years

With both children living abroad

Most of the year

You might think she is alone.

But something tells me

People are drawn to her.

Kristina was.

Constance reminded her

Of  her own spunky grandmother.

They had a long visit

Including a tour of her home

Which is much smaller

More intimate.


She told Kristina

Her garden was inspired by Gertrude Jekyll

Since she was a friend of her parents

And grandparents.

“She was in the milk of my bottle.”

Constance drank her in

In a sense.


Gardening is a common bond

Through generations

And across continents.


“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.”
Gertrude Jekyll





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Filed under Garden Planning, Gardening;Perennials, Generations, Monet's Garden, Garden Travel, Trip of a Lifetime, Elizabeth Murray, Perennials, Pruners, Uncategorized, Wise Women


I love the mundane.

Now I realize that isn’t “culturally correct”.

But really, there is nothing like a day of regular.

And that is what today was – mundane – regular – wonderful.

After a quick trip to the last Farmers’ Market.

I headed straight to the back yard

The goal was to finish transplanting on “the hill”.

It began about a month ago.

I was tired of the vinca minor running the show.

So I began to dig it up

And pull it back like a carpet.

Then I transplanted 5 big ferns.

I’m not sure but I think they are Cinnamon ferns.

They’ve settled in nicely.

So, today was the day to dig the hostas in the front bed

And bring them to their new home on the hill.

These were planted about 3 years ago.

They were bare root so they were tiny.

Unfortunately they just get too much sunshine in the front

And the last 2 summers they have simply fried.


So a home on the hill under the shade of the old cedar trees

Should make them much happier.

The root balls were the size of small trees.

I’m thinking they’ll be just fine.

Smaller hostas were also relocated.

Layered in the front between the Hellebores and Ferns.

I did have my assistant gardener close by

She has figured out that when I dig

Worms appear.

And she loves worms!

Unfortunately some things disappeared.

My favorite pruners can’t be located.

My best guess is I buried them under one of those

Very large

Very heavy


Didn’t have the energy to dig around for them.

Hopefully they’ll surface tomorrow!

There are lots of little surprises

In the fall garden.

So on this




Saturday night.

I thought I’d share a few.

May you find the blessings

Of a mundane day soon.



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Filed under Clematis, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Farmer's Market, Ferns, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Hellebores, Perennials, Plumbago, Pruners, roses, Shade Garden, Tall Garden Phlox, TRANSPLANTING


Over the years I have tried a variety of gardening tools.

I’ve narrowed it down

To what actually works

For me.

So, I thought I’d share my favorites.

Now…I realized  that like everything else in life.

What works for me

May not work for you.

But this tool conversation has to start somewhere

And this seems the logical place.

First, let’s talk about what I don’t like

And get that out-of-the-way.

I don’t like what I call “cutesy” gardening things.

You know – trowels with flowers and bugs and frogs painted on them.

Not only are they too cute,

They just don’t stand the test of time.

No…I go to the other end of the spectrum.

Some off my garden tools look more like

Well…midieval weapons.

Take my very favorite

The Korean Hand Plow

Or its common name the E-Z digger.

I once gave these to all my gardening relatives for Christmas.

You can imagine what it was like going through airport security!!!

But they are to my way of thinking, the most logical piece of gardening equipment.

And they are ergonomically efficient.

Saving strain on the shoulder and elbow.

I use it for weeding, working up the soil and digging holes for seeds and plants.

I once lost one for months.

Only to have it fall out of the composter after a good spin.

It was really rusty, but still works.

If you can only have one tool.

This is it.

Next would be pruners.

I’ve tried them all

And lost them all.

Felco is the gold standard here.

A number 6 or 7 is sized for the average woman’s hand.

But as it happens I didn’t really like my #7 Felcos

So when they disappeared into the late summer garden

Never to resurface

I replaced them with Okatsume Pruners

Which I found at, of all places, Amazon!

I’ve managed to keep them now for several years.

The bright orange handles help me locate them in a sea of growth.

To keep them sharp I use this handy little pruner sharpener I discovered a dozen years ago.

And rakes – gotta have them.

I have 2 favorites.

A small hand rake.

Oh so handy when I’m on the ground cleaning out under

Hydrangeas, overgrown well…everything this time of year, rose bushes, etc.

You get the idea.

Then there is this handy little expandable rake.

It goes from very small to a regular size.

And everything in between.

Which means you can make it work for just about any job.

Now, so as not to frustrate you I think it best to tell you where to find all of this.

Normally, I’m a locavore when it comes to shopping

But since for some reason many of these are not carried in garden centers

I think I will give you websites.

Kinsman at is a gold mine of really good gardening tools and supplies.

There you will find the Korean Hand Plow, the pruner sharpening kit and the hand rake.

The bigger rake is found at garden centers and hardware store.

Another quality online source is Lee Valley Tools at

So, that’s the beginning of my tool story.

We’ll talk of others again soon.

As I see people around town many ask if I have any flowers left

After the heat.

So here’s the answer


Another great tool…

Drip irrigation

It saves me every year.

Enjoy the week.




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Filed under E-Z Digger, Garden Tools, Hand Rake, Korean Hand Plow, Pruner sharpening kit, Pruners, Rake, Uncategorized