Bargain Season, small thrills division.

Dedicated garden shoppers can find great bargains long about now, and I’m not talking end-of-season clearances…

at least not in the usual sense. These are more the kind of clearance you get when somebody notices that no one has seen the back wall of the garage for over a decade. Translation: we’re into the last few weekends of genuine yard sales, where treasures for gardeners can lie buried in the piles of plastic kitchenware, overpriced ” antique” furniture and franchise-branded toys of the sort that make you fear for the future of the republic.

Among other things, yard sales are the last great repository of neat flower frogs, now alas “collectible” and going for ever larger and larger bucks wherever collectibles are sold.

My own weakness is for pin cups, the flower-arranger’s best friend, but there are beauts galore if you only look.

Among the tools:

I got my favorite trowel at a yard sale: wide blade, wide wooden handle with a waist that just comfortably fits my hand. Also an old ham knife that’s great for sawing out potbound plants. Also my favorite sprayer – I asked to try it and they let me; always a good idea with items that may work and may not and while we’re on the subject , beware of scissoring tools like hedge shears unless you know how to judge “blades, reparability of. ”

Hoes, shovels and garden forks are good bets; assuming there aren’t obvious defects like nicks in the metal, all you need to check for is funny angles – those tines are HARD to straighten out – and tired wood. If the collar area looks frayed there’s likely to be trouble before long.

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