If the house caught fire and on my way out the door I could grab one item—my most precious possession, the thing I can't live without? I'd save my Felco pruners.
I got my left handed, rotating Felco No. 10's as a gift on Mother's Day. In 1989. That was the first year I was a mother, and the first year I had a garden. The No. 10's were my first real tool. They remain my favorite. Together we have faced down thorny sour orange trees and overly enthusiastic euonymous bushes and belligerent bougainvillea.
Some things are easily replaced. My Felcos have had their springs refurbished, and one year they got a new cutting blade. Other things aren't. Pruners, like jewelry, are a personal choice. We asked some expert gardeners to share their favorites:
Above: A snail's eye view in the garden. Gardenista writer Kendra Wilson, who lives and gardens in England, recommends Felcos: "Owning a pair is like a passport into the gardening world here." Image by Felco SA, via Flickr.
Above: "I've had my pair of Toshibo pruners for around 15 years," says landscape designer Sean Quigley, who owns Paxton Gate in San Francisco. "The blades are made in a similar fashion to samurai swords in that the steel is folded and hammered, folded and hammered, numerous times to produce a crisp and durable edge." Hand-forged, the Tobisho Pruners are from Japan; they're $118 from Paxton Gate. Image via Fine Tools.
Above: LA-based landscape designer Judy Kameon, whose clients include Sofia Coppola and the Beastie Boys' Mike D., says: "I do have a favorite pair of pruners. Felco No. 2 are perfect for every day shaping and clipping. I use my No. 6 for slightly larger branches. But No. 2 are my go-to-pruners." The original Felco No. 2 (Above, L) and a pair of Felco No. 6 pruners; each pair is $54.95 at Gardeners.
Above: "I have six or seven pair of Bahcos floating around among my employees and my own home garden toolboxes," says Genevieve Schmidt, a California-based landscape designer and garden writer. "It is really the ergonomics and the metal used which sets them apart. They make pruning easier and more fun, and need sharpening way less than my old Felcos did." (For her side-by-side comparison of pruners, visit North Coast Gardening.) The Bahco PX-M2 Pruners Schmidt uses are $34.06 at the Bahco Store.
Above: After searching in vain for a lightweight pair of pruners sized for a woman's hand, British designer Sophie Conran (daughter of Terence) designed the Sophie Conran Hand Pruners to use in her own garden. They are rust-resistant and are $32.95 from Williams-Sonoma Agrarian. Image via Ocado.
Above: My favorites, the Lefthanded Felco No. 10 Pruners, have a rotating handle that makes it easy for me to get leverage from any angle. They're $65.46 at Felco Store.
(N.B.: This is an update of a post published on June 1, 2012)