From the Sperry Garage
This simple little shovel is called a “nursery spade.” However, the best way I’ve found to describe it on the radio or out on the street is that it looks like a sharpshooter spade that was run over by a steamroller and then ground flat across its business end.
You can see that unlike most square-bladed shovels, my little nursery spade has no “turn-up” on its outside edges. That means I can use it to “slice-and-dice” my way through my lawn, landscape and garden. And therein lies its special value to a plant person.
But let me go back 56 years. I had actually asked for this as a gift from my mom and dad on my 16th birthday. I had an active business of installing landscapes in College Station while in high school. That included sod. I was working out of my backyard “garden center” and greenhouse. Sod wasn’t available in College Station just yet, so I dug plugs out of our yard and replanted them in new lawns across Texas Avenue on what was then Jersey Street (Now George Bush Boulevard). I needed a tool to make the work easier.
This nursery spade dug straight-edged pieces of sod I could take from our yard, and one hour later, plant into the new yard. I learned how to cut the four sides of a square 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep. I’d pop out the sod, then I’d dig a comparable hole the same size in the new lawn. They were perfect fits, enough so that as soon as I finished watering the new plugs in place, I’d take most of the extra soil back to our yard to fill in my divots.
I also love daylilies. At my high-water mark, I had more than 400 varieties, and this great little shovel dug and divided them for probably 40 years. Very few people can say that they loved every minute they spent at the end of a shovel, but I did with this one.
This special spade, with all its great memories, has been retired. I didn’t want to take the chance of losing it somewhere. You can see that its handle is loose, but instead of replacing it, I opted to buy a new spade and let my old pal take some well-deserved time off.
I’m big on buying from local independent retailers. Your favorite nursery or hardware store probably has these in stock now. If not, my dad bought mine from A.M. Leonard and Sons in Piqua, Ohio, way back in 1960. These people still have an incredible array of highest-quality gardening tools. They’re not inexpensive, but at least you have a good source.