Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Pruning Lady

When I work with my son-in-law’s landscape maintenance company, he and his staff call me the pruning lady. I like this title, because it has a kind of Mary Poppin’s flare, but the truth is I’m really a novice pruner, though it is my favorite garden task along with weeding.

I asked Michael if could be on his crew because I wanted more experience pruning, and also because I enjoy working in other people’s gardens. I bring along several garden books for reference in the event that I run up against something I've never pruned before. And Michael and I enjoy garden talk, troubleshooting problems and sharing things we’ve learned from our respective research. Yesterday’s discovery had to do with the difference between bypass clippers and dead wood loppers.

Bypass clippers work with a scissor action in which a thin, sharp blade slides closely past a thicker but also sharp blade. They make clean, close cuts. A dead wood lopper makes an anvil cut, i.e. a sharpened blade cuts against a broad, flat blade. You can use the anvil cut loppers for larger or multiple branches, and they work beautifully when cutting dead wood. The bypass clippers just tear a dead branch or won’t cut through it at all. I can't believe I didn't know the difference between these tools before yesterday.

While I worked with clippers and loppers, I finished a terrific audiobook: one of the books in Alexander McCall Smith’s series The Number One Lady’s Detective Agency which chronicle the adventures of Precious Ramotswe a lady detective in Botswana. Sound corny? Well if you enjoy mysteries and you like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books, you are not going to want to miss this collection. It’s a special ear treat to listen to the audiobook version because it adds the flavor of lilting British accents.

The pruning lady had a lovely morning, cleaning up lilac bushes, pear trees, and messy baby oaks while listening to M. Ramotswe solve her client’s problems with mannerly grace.

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