The trowel came to us second hand and in a bit of a mess; it has been thoroughly cleaned and given a new handle and ferrule (which was made using recycled pipe, and is what connects the tool to the handle, securely and safely)
The wood used to craft the handle itself managed to survive Dutch Elm Disease (Ophiostoma ulmi), which is a fungus spread by bark beetles. It first came to England in the 1920s, whence it killed up to 40% of Elms. The second wave came in the 1960s, (Ophiostoma novo-ulmi) from a log that had been transported with the disease from Canada. It was a more aggressive form and killed tens of millions of trees.
The wood used to make the handle on this trowel was one of the survivors, still standing long after this attack. Hence the spalted patterning through it. This is a special handle indeed, a piece of modern history no less. But don’t worry about using it to garden with, the disease has long gone and the handle has been sealed in resin.
Sadly, the chances of Ophiostoma novo-ulmi reappearing in Britain is likely to happen as all the Elms that were saved by being too young for the beetles to breed in have now grown to an age which is attractive to the beetle once again…