For two weeks my favorite hoe has been lost. It's a Glide 'n' Groom from the European maker Goserud. True to its name the super-sharp blade glides right over the ground, slicing off weeds at their base. The angle is just right so I can stand up straight. Tipped on its side it edges the garden. The handle came unfinished so I could oil it myself. My hands are my most useful gardening tools; this was my second.

And then it was gone. I looked everywhere I thought it might be. Under the raspberries, along the main border, the back corner of a client's garden. But no hoe. No local nursery had another one in stock. I went on a buying spree trying to replace it. One hoe was too short, one was too broad, one the wrong shape - none were the same.

Gardeners have a habit of developing emotional relationships with their tools. You spend hours with them in your hands. They get a patina of you and your garden. Dibbles, trowels and spades all have claimed the hearts of gardeners across time and continents.

The classic favorite is the Felco pruner - sharp and well balanced, a marvel of Swiss engineering. They effortlessly cut through rose canes and dogwood branches. I have a pair, but they haven't caught hold yet. Pruning just isn't that exciting for me.

After my hoe was lost I did have a brief flirtation to fill the niche of that favorite tool. It was with a new rechargeable blower. It's relatively quiet, gentle on plants, has no gas fumes. I'm not a good sweeper and it's a lot faster than a broom. Even while in the early flushes of flirtation, I knew it wouldn't last. Could my favorite tool be made of black and red plastic? I don't think so.

This morning I went to turn on the hose to water a few plants, and there on the wood pile was my hoe, my Glide 'n' Groom, my Goserud. The blade was rusty, the handle dry. I wanted to cry and scold at the same time. "Welcome back! How could you leave me!" It sat there, full of innocence, as if to say, "I've been waiting. Where are the weeds?" I scooped it up and went off to work.

*****

To do in the garden:

  • Divide bearded irises;

  • Fertilize annuals;

  • Shop for bargains at local nurseries;

  • Go on garden tours; and

  • Enjoy.