Thanksgiving, the holiday, was first observed by the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Native Americans in 1621. If my third-grade arithmetic is correct, and I believe it is, that was 399 years ago. Since then, the date has been shifted around a few times, but anyhow Thanksgiving in the 21st century is tomorrow.
Turkey will be the entree in most homes Thursday for the annual feast, but those early settlers didn’t have it too bad themselves, with a menu of lobster, seal (from the sea) and swans, believe it or not. Swans were a delicacy for a long time until they were reduced in population and waterfowl conservation came into being.
The chief reason for the holiday was, and is, to give thanks for our blessings. We in this century are the most blessed of people. Half of the holiday’s founders died before the first Thanksgiving, a year after they had landed on our shores.
Since the raison d être for these writings is to enhance our gardens, the question is beggared as to what are you, as a gardener, most thankful for in the Year Of Our Lord 2020? Well, we’ve been beset by unusual trouble, i.e. the virus, this year, and, perhaps, you have had other bad experiences as well. Let us, for the moment, determine we will spend a few minutes thanking Providence for our blessings.
What about all that rain we have received this year? Last year at this time we were just barely breaking out from a devastating drought. Nothing like rain for causing the demise of same. The substitute, artificial watering, isn’t nearly as effective.
Then there is the fact we never broke 100 degrees this summer, and, at this late date, certainly won’t. We toyed with 100 degrees a few times, and the summer, as is its wont in our climate, was hot.
At the other end of the scale, we never went below zero either, though the 8 degrees a year ago this month did a number on crape myrtles, big leaf hydrangeas and a few other things. The memory is fading.
There are other things I, and you, should be thankful for. These come in the way of man-made garden gear to help keep us from falling apart at the seams for a while longer.
I inherited, from my dear father-in-law, in 1990 a long-reach extension pruning saw that will reach up to 15 feet if you are at least 5 feet tall yourself.
The extendable pole is of aluminum, not legal these days because of the possibility of electrocution if it gets tangled up in power lines. I have to be careful. However, it is so light it is much easier on the shoulders and arms than current models made of fiberglass. I wouldn’t trade it for a speckled pup or a farm in Georgia.
Well, I would for loppers, long handled pruners that are some 3 feet long and with double-action gearing to compound the leverage for branches up to at least an inch thick. I’ve worn out several blades (easily replaceable) but I have a private Santa, in the form of Number 2 son, who keeps me in extra blades every Christmas. Ditto, blades for my Felco hand pruners, the Cadillac of the line, and, again, with easily replaceable blades.
What would we ever have done without hand-held leaf blowers? I hate their bodacious scream and air pollution, but I reason that my one little effort at leaf removal with it will have little effect on the ozone layer.
Battery powered tools are improving right along and becoming more common. Leaf blowers, trimmers, and even lightweight chain saws are available, and while power is not as effective as gasoline models, it is getting closer.
I have had for some years now a battery powered 24-volt shrub trimmer that is effective for shearing hedges and some few pieces of topiary. I previously had an 18-volt one that was inadequate for all but very light use.
The extra 6 volts in the 24-volt one made a lot of difference and the model does yeoman duty on hedges and topiary.
Look through your garden tool inventory and, as the song so effectively says, “count your many blessings and it will surprise you what the Lord had done.”
JIMMY WILLIAMS is the garden writer for The Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Monday mornings at 642-1162.