By Bryce Williamson
I have tools for the iris garden that I need and use every day. Recently, I decided to ask the members of Facebook's Iris Lovers group what their favorite tool was for the gardening. Here is a sample of the answers.
Mitch Jameson, from Missouri, has several tools he finds essential: “A 4 tong strong potato/garden fork preferably made somewhere other than those weak cheap ass things from China that break and bend so easily; a good 1-2 gallon sprayer for spraying fungicide for leaf spot; a Marshalltown smallish trowel or a good knockoff, sharpened each side for pulling weeds; and a long strong spade to dig deep to turn soil.”
Laura Ann Browning likes “Cobrahead. Short and medium handles.” This is a new product to me.
Heather Grace Haley Broberg noted that she liked “using OXO kitchen shears to trim iris leaves. I do this when dividing, and to minimize leaf spot. They are easy to separate to clean and sanitize and the grip is very comfortable for extended use.”
Bonnie Perozzi Doolittle has relocated her irises to Oregon and writes: “I would be completely lost without my small size shovel. I am short so this little shovel is just perfect for you. I have them scattered all around so I don’t have to carry them place to place.”
Renee Fraser, former editor of the AIS’s World of Irises blog, wrote that “My favorite garden tool is the spade for shovel pruning non-performing irises!”
Delane H Langton also listed a number of “must have” garden items: “Ergo stainless fork and shovel. Scissors gloves and ergo trowels.” He noted he “may have acquired the remaining US stock of them.”
Ben Lawn’s “absolute favorite piece of garden equipment are my Felco model 9 secateurs. They are incredibly well constructed; I can buy every component as spare parts. Best of all I’m left-handed, and the model 9 is constructed in reverse compared to regular secateurs so they are much easier for a left handed person like me to use.”
Vanessa Spady wrote “I would love to share with you my favorite garden tool because I could not live without it, especially when I’m working with my iris. Iris RN “on your knees“ plant. I can’t do very much with them when I’m standing up, so I don’t use my standup tools for them, I use this odd ducky. I can use it as a garden fork on one side, and as a spade on the other side. I have a good leverage with it because it’s short handled on the ground. And best of all, I can control where I’m putting it because I’m up close, and I almost never (almost) hit an increase or buried rhizome because I’m down low. No idea what it’s called, but this is what it looks like.” I have been told that this is a planting mattock.
Gail Simmons commented that her “favorite iris gardening tools. A potato fork and smaller long handled spade." I had to look this one up and found "Potato forks have flat-fronted triangular-section tines. They are not so good for digging over the soil. They are for gentle diagonal probing and lifting of root crops and tubers from relatively loose soil. They do less damage than the same person with a digging fork.'
Lynda Miller, a well known iris hybridizer now in Oregon, noted “Garden shears (modern version of sheep shears). Can trim foliage for hours without getting tired. We turned Thomas Johnson on to them.”
Lucy Burton wrote short and sweet to the point, “Cape Cod weeder.”
Marilyn Schuster Kiger says her “best tool yet is my Japanese hori hori knife. I can cut, divide, dig deep rooted weeds, lift plants. Strong metal with good balance and wood handle. My go to garden tool.”
Since I started this, I must mention my most important weeding tool—an O-ring hoe. I like it because I can precision weed and there is something infinity satisfying with I feel the snap of the root on the despicable weed. Sadly, this hoe does not seem to be made anymore and I keep going through handles trying to make this O-ring hoe last as long as possible.