It was hoe, hoe, hoe, from Bert, but I wasn't laughing

SPRING was in the air and it was time to start on this year's garden make-over.

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As it was a lovely day, I decided to go for a drive to the Clyde Valley where there are lots of well-stocked garden centres.

On arrival, I was met at the huge front sliding doors by what were obviously two new recruits. Both were sporting newly-pressed oversized green overalls with shiny new badges.

One read, 'Darren' and the other said 'Dean'.

They stood upright, as though they were changing the guard, and seemed eager to help.

In what was obviously an out-of-character posh voice Darren said: "Good morning. Can I help you?"

"Em, I hope so. I am looking for a hoe."

Darren glanced clueless at Dean.

Dean meanwhile stared wide-eyed in return back at Darren before they both shrugged their shoulders.

"I want to buy a hoe," I repeated.

But I might as well have asked for it in Swahili.

Dean eventually admitted: "We have just started work here, but our boss is an expert."

The pair then led me through trees and shrubs to a greenhouse where we found an old-timer called Bert. An obvious veteran of gardening, Bert had tidy white hair, a cheery weatherbeaten face and a big belly kept partially in place by his belt and braces.

Pinning his hopes that Bert the Expert would understand my request, Darren put on his posh voice again and said: "Bert, this lady is looking for a hoe?"

"A hoe, my dear," replied Bert the Expert.

"Certainly. What kind of hoe were you thinking about?"

Naively I admitted: "I didn't realise there was more than one kind."

Darren and Dean were not the only clueless ones any more.

"More than one kind?" Bert answered. "More than one kind?"

He shook his head incredulously before continuing: "Let me run you through a few different types and you can decide which is best for you".

He then turned to his two star pupils and told them: "Right lads, listen and learn.

"There is an American hoe, which can be pointed, or standard, or a plough hoe.

"There's a Winged Weeder hoe, which is the superhero of hoes.

"And there's a Grub hoe, which is a hard-working hoe."

I can tell Dean was bemused by this description.

Bert continued relentlessly: "You can also have a Gooseneck hoe or a Half-Moon hoe, which are great for getting into tight spaces.

"Now, a Swoe hoe is one of the most versatile hoes for weeding".

Darren put his hand up as if he was still in the classroom. "Bert, what is a weed?"

Quick as a flash Bert replied "It's a wild undesirable plant that grows where it's not wanted."

"How does it know where it's wanted?" a baffled Darren asked.

"Listen and learn, boys. Listen and learn" says Bert, clearly wanting to showpiece his unique knowledge of hoes.

"We also have a Putter hoe, and before you ask no, it's nothing to do with golf," he joked.

"And also a Push hoe."

"Is that for when you're tired of pulling? Ha ha," said Darren trying and failing to be funny.

Ignoring him Bert the Expert went on: "We have a Rogue Hoe and a Scuffle hoe, a Stirrup hoe, a Dutch hoe, a Circle hoe and an Asian hoe".

"Bloody hell, how many kinds of hoes are there?" I thought. "I'll be here all day.

I attempted to interrupt but Bert simply took a deep breath and continued... "Now a Hooke'n'Crooke hoe is more than just a hoe.

"It has a versatile six-inch blade and is especially good on rock and clay."

Dean was now finding it difficult to stand still on the same spot but continued to listen to his mentor.

"And then you have a Fork hoe, which is perfect for moving mulch and cultivating the hard-packed soil".

Darren obviously had no clue what mulch was but nodded anyway.

"Now," said Bert. "If you can't decide if you need a fork or a hoe - you can't go wrong with a Spork hoe."

Finally noticing the look of bewilderment on my face Bert assured me: "If you are in any doubt you can watch them on YouTube."

YouTube! The duo in front of me smiled as they finally recognised a word from Bert's mouth.

"Now, we don't have it in stock but I can order you a Ninja Onion hoe if you would prefer?" said Bert, back on a roll.

"A Ninja Oni...," I stuttered, "Em, well. My garden is pretty small."

"Small?" enquires Bert.

"Well in that case we have a wide range of hand hoes."

And before I could get the words out, Bert was off again like an express train.

"We've got a Japanese hand hoe, a Scuffle hand hoe …"

Darren and Dean's brains had now gone into meltdown.

"Bert! Bert!" I butt in trying to bring him back down to earth.

"I think I would be better sticking to a traditional garden hoe."

I point to a familiar looking item in the corner. Ignoring my request the old-timer turned to his two protégés.

"One thing lads, you should always keep in mind. If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need in life."

As I studied the two blank faces in front of me, I very much doubted they had either.

Home and Garden

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