The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Mini mower gets the job done, but which ones are the weeds?

You know those plastic toy lawn mowers that toddlers love pushing around, so they can emulate mommy and daddy doing yard work?

Well, I’ve got a lawn mower that resembles the kid’s version; “Lil’Mo” is noticeable in black and orange and is made of a similar PVC material. Yeah, some of my neighbors think it’s cute and even hilarious to see in action. One stranger drove by in his car and yelled out to me “Is that the big girl’s Tonka lawn mower?”

A young boy of about 8 once walked by with his younger sister and asked me if the mower was real.

And one neighbor laughed that the 14-inch, 24-volt cordless mini mower with the rechargeable battery is “just perfect for you.”

I guess he thinks I’m too dainty for a real lawn mower. I think I deserve credit for choosing a machine that is kind to the environment. For one thing, my little toy is emissions-free and not as loud and annoying as the standard gas mower. I don’t have to worry about dropping gasoline all over the place or dealing with difficult pull starts. And unlike an electric mower, there isn’t a long cord to trip over and tangle up.

However, a narrow 14-inch mower means that you must go over and over certain grassy patches, so you can’t hurry the job like you could with a gas-powered version.

Is Lil’Mo effective for a smaller property?

I think so; for about $200, it’s also an economical and sturdy gadget. And if I could assemble the unit myself within a few minutes, then, I am certain even an orangutan could put this mower together.

And then, there’s my garden ... I believe I have flunked Simple Backyard Maintenance 101. In the last two years since I have owned the property, I have somehow developed a mismanaged landscape. Perennials are appearing, but things are looking over-crowded, and my hostas appear monstrous.

The residents before me had green thumbs, and the yard was all abloom with perfect pops of violets, yellows, reds and pinks. Everything was manicured and arranged like a garden paradise.

My problem is not knowing whether “those things” are actually weeds or flowers-in-the-making. I foolishly uprooted many tiny greens and later learned that they appear to be spring flowers with tiny white petals. The plants resemble a wood anemone if my Google-searching is correct.

Two highlights of my garden and courtyard feature a group of stately irises, and by the time you read this column, those beauties will have all unfurled their magnificent shades of yellow and purple blooms.

I also adore my pink peonies; I have two small shrubs, and only one has buds this season. But I will take what I can get, and oh, that sweet fragrance. It’s an old-fashioned garden flower that is both showy and elegant. The peony has come to represent good fortune and happiness, so some brides carry them in their bouquets.

If you want to win over the affections of this columnist, then, some peonies are all that’s required.

My mother once told me that white peonies were Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite flowers, and that was true. The Kennedy children ordered white peonies to adorn the altar at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on Park Avenue for her funeral.

My next prickly challenge involves moving a young rose bush barely growing in a too-shady edge of my yard to a sun-friendlier spot.

I’m inspired by the late poet Anne Bronte: “But he who dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.”

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at