The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of November 19 to November 26, 2020


Select the Right Tool for the Pruning Task

Bypass pruner garden tool
The FlexDial bypass pruner allows you to adjust the grip to fit the size of your hand, reducing fatigue when making repetitive cuts.
Photo credit: Corona Tools

Deadheading, trimming, and pruning are part of growing and maintaining a beautiful and productive garden and landscape. Make sure you are outfitted with the right tool for the job. Matching the tool to the pruning task will help ensure a proper cut, reduce hand fatigue, and allow you to work longer.

Since most pruning cuts in the garden and landscape are between 1/4" and 3/4", a bypass hand pruner is a must. These pruners have two sharp blades like scissors, making a clean cut that closes quickly. This helps reduce the risk of insects and disease moving in and harming your plants.

Avoid hand-held pruners that are too heavy or open too wide for your hand size. Those with a spring action return help reduce hand fatigue as long as the opening matches the size of your hand. Make sure the pruner does not open wider than your hand can easily grip. Select a tool that fits in your hand, is comfortable, has an ergonomic grip and is easy to control.

Matching your pruner to your hand size is as important as matching it to the cutting job. Opting for an oversized pruner to make larger cuts can lead to hand fatigue, frustration, and improper cuts. Measure the width across the palm of your hand at the base of your fingers. Next, measure the height from the middle of the base of your hand to the tip of your middle finger.

A pruner rated for ½” cuts is a good match for those with small hands less than 3 1/2” wide and 6 ¼” high. If your hands measure 3 ½ to 4” wide and 6 ½ to 8” high, you may want to purchase a ¾” pruner. Those with larger hands should do fine with a 1” hand-held pruner.

But size is just one factor to consider. Hand strength also influences the diameter of the stems you will be able to cut. Just because a tool is rated for ¾” doesn’t mean everyone will be able to apply the needed pressure to make such a large cut. Invest in tools with compound levers or ratchets when you need a mechanical advantage to make cutting easier.

When the job is too big for you or the tool, select one better suited to the task. Employ a bypass lopper like Corona Tool’s ComfortGel SL 3164D with tactile handles. Loppers have long handles that give you greater leverage and extend your reach. This extra reach makes it easier to prune all parts of small trees, shrubs, and roses.

Invest in a foldable pruning RazorTOOTH Saw ( with a pull stroke cutting action and ergonomic handle. You’ll be able to make cuts fast and easy and minimize hand fatigue. Foldable saws allow you to tuck the blade into the handle for safekeeping and reduce storage space.

Saws are useful tools for cutting larger branches on trees and shrubs that you can safely prune. Although I am a certified arborist, I only prune small trees and shrubs. I save big tree work for my colleagues that climb, have the equipment and training to do the job safely.

Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Corona Tools for her expertise to write this article. Her web site is


Midcentury Glassware

Murano glassware

Regular readers of this column know that “brown furniture,” glassware and china prices have dropped over the years. There are a few notable exceptions though, including many midcentury (1940s to 1960s or 1970s) glassware pieces.

Some kitchenware from the midcentury is collectible. Green “Jadeite” Fire King prices may have peaked when Martha Stewart displayed pieces in a cabinet behind her on her cooking show, but it still sells fairly well today. Five Fire King mixing bowls recently sold for $70 at auction. A large 87-piece group of mixed dinnerware brought $550. Pyrex kitchenware is also in demand. A pink 1 ½ quart divided covered casserole cooking dish recently sold for $54. A set of nesting Pyrex mixing bowls in yellow, green, red and blue went for $120 this month.

Midcentury modern art glass is also quite popular with collectors. When thinking of glass from this era, most people think of Murano (Venetian glass). It was popular in the 1960s but has a much longer history, dating all the way back to the 1200s. Venetian glass was in high production during the 15th and 16th centuries. Glassmaking in Murano declined in the 17th century, but it came back in the 19th century. During the 1920s, Murano produced art nouveau design glass. World War II saw production drop, but it came back strong again after the war.

Prices have increased for midcentury Murano glass. Glassware that may have sold at estate sales for anywhere from two bucks to $10 in the 1990s may now bring 10 times those prices. For example, a Murano cockatoo recently sold for $50 and two Murano “Aquarium bowls” by Alfredo Barbini, with fish designs on the bottom, sold for $200 and $250 this month.

Nordic countries also produced some quality art glass during this time. Gerda and Asta Stromberg made tall cylindrical “Sputnik” vases, along with other patterns for Strombergshyttan of Sweden. The well-known Swedish glassmaker Orrefors purchased Strombergshyttan in 1976. Riihimäki glass of Finland made colorful vases and other art glass objects during the 1960s. Many had a clear base with curves, creating the effect of multiple levels.

America also produced some quality midcentury art glass. Higgins glass designed what was called a “glass sandwich.” According to “on one piece of enamel-coated glass, a design is created, either drawn with colored enamels, or pieced with glass segments.” Another piece of enameled glass is placed on top of that. Blenko Glass created amberina glass (red and yellow colors merging) among many other patterns during the 1960s. Other companies like Heisey offered some modern design glassware as well.

Some midcentury glassware can fetch high prices at auction. A large 1940s-1950s Asta Stromberg Diamant (Diamond pattern) glass vase by Strombergshyttan sold for $735 in a 2013 online auction. A "peacock" Blenko floor bottle brought $2,100 at auction in 2016. A set of four Riihimaki glasses made by the artist Nanny Stil for the Riiimaën Lasi Oy company went for £4,000 ($5,278 U.S.) in 2011. A 1960 Michael and Frances Higgins Rondelay screen with five rows each with five round pieces of glass and brass sold for $13,000 in 2014. A 1960 Murano "Dorico Corniola" vase by Ercole Barovier, described in one auction catalog as "colourless glass with inclusions in carnelian, white, violet and colourless," was auctioned for $29,000 in 2013. Art glass has still been selling well more recently. A pair of Murano glass chandeliers sold for $2,750 in late October. Despite the pandemic, there is still bottled up demand for high quality art glass.

We will be offering a large collection of antique and newer toys from one estate in several online auctions over the next few months, beginning with some die-cast cars. We also will be offering paintings by Fay Moore from her estate. Moore is well known for sporting scenes and horse racing paintings. I’ll provide additional updates in future columns.

Contact us at: Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser Central Mass Auctions for Antique Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services (508-612- 6111)