Wednesday, March 14, 2007

How Expensively Does Your Garden Grow?

Spring is here, and so is the Smith & Expensive catalog. Smith & Hawken, of course, is the outfit that turned gardening into a fashion statement. They've gradually weeded out most seeds and plants from their line of goods and replaced them with outdoor furniture (Do you prefer "Avignon Lounging" or "Canterborough Lounging"?) and the likes of "bunny topiary." At $89 a bunny, it's a Chia Pet for the Lexus set.

Ah, but there are two pages of actual garden tools in the Spring Sale catalog. "Why Smith & Hawken tools?" asks the catalog. "A great partnership with an English toolmaker (in business for 200 years)." Sure enough, these carefully sculpted tools look like props for the help in country garden scenes on "Masterpiece Theater." The catalog provides handy descriptions for the kind of modern Americans who only develop calluses inside their Manolo Blahniks.

"Long-handled Shovel: For lifting and throwing gravel, compost, soil or sand." Who knew? For further instructions ask one of your Guatemalan lawn guys.

You can have your $59 shovel and your $39 "Perennial Hoe." My favorite new Smith & Hawken tool is the Dibber, an 11-inch carbon-steel pointy thing with a finely crafted wooden handle "to create small holes for planting seeds or small seedlings."

The dictionary says a "dibber" was originally called a "dibble," which comes, natch, from the Middle English "debylle." Whatever you call it, it costs $25 plus shipping so you can poke holes in the dirt.

As my wife says in Middle American: "I got sticks for that."


Dagny said...

That is always an amusing catalog to peruse. Of course, if I was insane enough to buy their stuff, I could probably get a discount.

cranky said...

Hey, hello Dagny. If you could get me one of those dibbers at a discount, I'd appreciate it. There must be a culinary use for it, like for studding lamb roasts with garlic.

drbiggles said...


While initially and by itself it isn't necessarily, directly a gut chuckle. But with the flavors and intention, "... so you can poke holes in the dirt." Yeah, okay well thank you for that. Kinda like a cuppa coffee.

My Gramma used her finger.


tammy said...

That CC's a sharp one, she is. I'm so glad to meet her crankier half. By the way, your blog name and tagline are great.

drbiggles said...

Hey Cranky,


Can you come out to play?


Anna Haight said...

My Japanese host sister's first request upon arriving in Mill Valley was to go to Smith & Hawken. I hadn't a clue! She was shocked, as it's headquarters are here. I live in a condo, I don't garden. Smith & Hawken have an upscale and even MORE pricey catalog for customers in Japanese.