Garden Tools That Changed The World

Gardening has shaped the world around us.  Since the beginning of time we have been gardening, and our gardening tools have found use well beyond the fields.  It is amazing what you can do with a stick.  Add a bit of steel to the end of that stick and you can change the world … or at least conquer it.

Knives are one of the earliest garden tools.  At the beginning, a sharpened stone got the job done.  Then there was bronze, iron, and now we have Teflon-coated, laser-cut steel.  Make those knives a bit longer and you have swords.  Put them on the end of a stick and you have a spear.

In England, a common tool during medieval times was the billhook (in the US we call them brush axes).  They were the perfect tool for maintaining hedgerows that formed the living fences for pasture fields.  It turns out that putting a billhook on a long stick is a great way to lop off heads and pull knights from horses.  Even now I use a Fiskars brush ax to clear my garden in the fall.

Axes are another garden tool that has literally shaped nations.  America was built by trees felled with axes!  They are a tool that has gone unchanged for thousands of years.  Poetry has even been written celebrating the ax:

WEAPON, shapely, naked, wan!
Head from the mother’s bowels drawn!
Wooded flesh and metal bone! limb only one, and lip only one!
Gray-blue leaf by red-heat grown! helve produced from a little seed sown!
Resting the grass amid and upon,
To be lean’d, and to lean on.
-Walt Whitman, Song of The Broad Axe (Excerpt)

The next time you pick up a garden tool, think about its history.  Some tools are truly mythological in their history.  There’s something noble about that.  Since the beginning of time these tools have been passed down.  They inspire us even today.

Your father’s lightsaber.  This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight.  Not as clumsy or random as a blaster.  An elegant weapon… for a more civilized age.
-Obi-Wan Kenobi

John Morgan