The Absentee Gardeners

By Lise Jenkins and Kit Flynn
Lise Jenkins and Kit Flynn -
Gama hoe - Courtesy photos

I’m in attack mode. Our builder installed Liriope spicata in our front planting beds and I’ve been removing it since we moved in. It lives up to its common name, Creeping Liriope; spreading across my planting beds at a ferocious pace. As our weather warms up the hated Liriope is stirring from its winter dormancy and I’ve got to strike before my opponent hits its stride. I have three tools in my arsenal that are up to the task.

First, I’m wielding a Gama Hoe. It’s a Japanese hand tool with a razor-sharp blade about 5 inches long. With a pointed tip and angled blade, this hoe cuts smoothly without making me exert a lot of force. Liriope is known for its strong, matted roots but my Gama hoe gets under the root mass and slices through this entangled mess, doing minimal damage to my soil.

This tool’s best feature means I have to be careful how I store it. After I use any tool I clean their cutting surfaces with a shot of Lysol to reduce the chance I’ll transfer pathogens and then coat lightly with WD-40 to prevent rust. The sharp Gama hoe blade needs to be wrapped up so I don’t accidentally cut myself when I reach for it in my garden tote.

The Gama hoe has a short handle, about 18 inches long. So while I’m happily chopping down my opponent, I’m working on my knees. Something my bones object to.

Seasons past I’ve used benches and while they keep me elevated and dry I can’t really move around my garden beds easily. This season I’m using a kneeling pad from Gardeners’ Supply. It’s the thickest one I’ve come across and downright comfy. After chores are done it doubles as a cushion as I sit surveying my triumph.

The final tool in my arsenal is a good pair of work gloves —but it took the government to convince me to wear them.

According to the Center for Disease Control emergency room admissions spike in the spring; the majority of those admissions for people participating in outdoor activities are for upper body injuries. My Liriope war is satisfying but potentially dangerous work. Especially when I’m wielding a sharp Gama hoe.

Garden gloves that fit well are a joy to wear. I have a basket of cast off gloves that didn’t live up to expectations. Too big and my hands slosh around inside, too small and I come away with painful blisters.

This season I discovered the Bellingham Tuscany Gauntlet Gloves. Available in three sizes these gloves are made for women’s hands. They are made from supple leather that conforms to my hands and moves with me. I really like the 5 inch gauntlet that extends beyond my wrists. It protects my wrists from sharp edges and prevents soil from getting inside my gloves. My hands and arms stay clean and dry.

Properly equipped I’m waging my war against the Liriope. Sadly, the outcome remains uncertain.

Lise Jenkins and Kit Flynn are contributing columnists. Absent from their gardens, they enjoy roaming our region exploring the intersection of innovation and horticulture. More on Twitter @AbsenteGardener or email:

Lise Jenkins and Kit Flynn Jenkins and Kit Flynn

Gama hoe hoe Courtesy photos
Right tools for the task

By Lise Jenkins and Kit Flynn