THE GARDENER cannot manage without a few boards. The minute he plants a few clumps of crocuses (to give you an example) he will find it necessary to move concrete over that part of the garden, even though it has been untrod for the past four months.
This never fails. And no harm is done if he has some good old boards to roll the wheelbarrow over, with the concrete in it.
Another thing that everybody who has gardened for a few years knows is that a wheelbarrow is priceless, and a good one is worth whatever the highwaymen charge. Mine cost about $90 and I would not part with it if it meant saving the Capitol.
Bean baskets are important. For some reason you do not see them up here so much. They are inverted truncated cones. Groceries shoudl have them, but often they do not. It pays to ask, however. These are useful for putting weeds inside. Even a frail person can carry a bean basket full of weeds to the compost pile. I like to think of others, in my garden planning.
A pile of sand is desirable. It is better, I think, to get a few yards delivered, traumatic though it may be to see them dumping it. Such a pike will last for years, and the gardener will not be forever nervous that his soil is too heavy for such things as rooting azaleas and avoiding iris rot.
No gardener can live long without peat moss. I get the cheapest I can find, which is not cheap. When I get halfway through one bale, I try to buy another and keep it in the garage. There is no point pretending you aren't going to have to buy some.
The gardener also must have one, preferable two, good trowels. They need not be very expensive, but they must fit the hand - so try them out at the store.
Also needed is what I call a Sharpshooter. This is a narros spade with a rounded bottom that can be used to dig fence-post holes and move peonies, roses, irises and the like; it is even very good for digging up a bed in which to plant azaleas later.
A garden hose, a hoe, a rake, some clippers for roses and small stuff, and a good saber saw for pruning large stuff - and I cannot think of anything else needed.
I once met a gardener who had plenty of rotted manure, but I've never met another. Wood ashes from the fireplace also are invariably far short of the amount that could be used. Rotted leaves are priceless, a good hit of work to accumulate, but indispensable.
Pine needles make a superb mulch for camellias, irises and other things. If you have a pine tree, don't let the needles go to waste on the grass.
There are never enough bricks, never enough two-by-fours. Like ballpoint pens, you never know where they go to, but when you need them you're always fresh out.
Graph paper, marked in little squares, is an ideal gift for the gardener. On it he can draw grandiose plans all witner before returning to the real world in late February.
Twine disappears. Once I bought a billion feet of very good heavy twine, but it was all gone in a few months. Other persons used it for tying packages. The gardener should have a locked cabinet in the garage where he keeps twine, two yardsticks ( which disappear if not locked up), the can of Benlate and all galvanized nails. Otherwise they, too, disappear. The only nails that do not get stolen by family persons are those bigger than 16-penny, and 1 1/4-inch roofing nails. Nobody ever swipes those.
Jars are valuable for putting over rose cuttings, and the jars should be locked up or they will have tomatoes in them.
This is about all I have learned in my years of gardening, and I pass it along to the world free of charge, however painful it all was to learn.