I couldn’t choose a favourite from this wall of tools.  Each has its particular use, character and quirks. My mother-in-law’s fine-tined fork, burnished by long use, gleams at the centre of the toolshed wall.  (Its sturdier, square-tined cousin, better suited to turning stony ground, is out in action in the garden).  My mum’s much younger border spade hangs alongside; a birthday present with a stainless steel blade that sadly failed to live up to its name.

Just out of the picture, a pair of red Felco secateurs are a souvenir of a winter I spent pruning apple trees on an Essex fruit farm. (The secateurs still cut cleanly after nearly forty years use). The curved pruning saw is a reminder of that year too, though a much more recent present. There are other gifts among the collection too: the trowel my dad gave me the year before he died; an elegant swan-necked onion hoe that I treasured then lost, only to find it two years later at the bottom of a compost heap. (The blade of this ‘burnished’ not ‘stainless’ hoe was good as new, though the wooden handle had suffered a little from its time with the compost.)

You won’t see many plastic handles or steel shafts among this collection.  Good wooden handles (usually made from springy ash wood) are strong, light and kind to the hands with good eco credentials.  Provided tools are stored out of the rain, wooden handles can last for decades but if they do break they can be replaced (if you can find a supplier who still stocks the right size).  That’s enough practical justification for my tool snobbery.  Traditional tools, made to designs that have been refined over centuries just look good too.

The blade of a spade can be good for generations but some tools do eventually wear out.  The long-handled draw hoe at the left (part hidden) doesn’t cut weeds as well as it used to; its blade isn’t flat or straight any more.  We’ve worn that hoe out between us over forty years’ gardening.  (One of us owned it when we were students in Reading but we can’t now remember whose it was).  The old hoe is still good for making drills and earthing up potatoes but it has been joined by a beautiful new one for weeding.  At £37 our hand-forged, swan-necked, ash-handled, made-in-the-Netherlands hoe felt like an extravagance but this is one of the tools we’ll be handing on to the next generation when our gardening days are over.  Cheap at the price.