It’s this time of year that seems to stimulate the need to replace worn out gardening stuff and this month I decided to look into replacing my somewhat worn, but much loved, gardening gloves. They have given sterling service, comfortable, not clammy, light, easily washed clean in the machine.
I wanted a similar lightweight feel and sensitivity and came across this stylist design from Ethel Gloves. They have all the plus features characteristics of my old gloves – two way stretch moisture wicking fabric made from bamboo – plus the added advantages of the wrist cover and a tab to hang them by, genuine goat skin leather palm and reinforced leather fingertips.
I’m rather smitten, in fact they seem almost too good for using the garden but I expect I’ll make the effort!
My gardening slip ons have reached the point of no return with the sole worn thin and the heel at a dangerous angle … Have to say these have taken at least 12 years to reach this state of wear. So I was pleased to come across a range of garden shoes made by a husband and wife team. Titled Backdoor Shoes there is a choice of design and sizes.
I chose the bluebell design and have been happily trotting around in all weathers. Waterproof, washable with removable, washable insoles. Designed for both men and women they are lightweight and very comfortable. Chris Evans was given a pair with the grass design by his wife for Christmas and he loves them.
Their website give more details.
Val Reynolds, Editor
We asked busy garden writer Amily Grossman, to give us some of her ideas for gifts for Fathers’ Day. With a little help from friends and relatives, here is her list.
Dads can sometimes feel a little left out in the early days with mum and baby sharing so much one on one time together. Water Babies, is a leading baby swimming school with classes all over the country. Water Babies lessons are a great way to get Dad involved as little ones are able to take lessons from birth, giving Dad and baby a fantastic opportunity to bond. Our favourite Father’s Day gift!
The weight of garden tools can become an issue if you frequently dig, hoe and rake. So your dad might welcome on of the new Light Gardening Tools from Fiskars. The lawn rake looks especially useful, it efficiently clears grass with much less effort than usual. The patio knife on a long handle would save a lot of back ache. Having just broken a wooden handled spade we’re now seriously considering the Light spade for our own gardening activities.
My dad really likes doorstep size slices of bread, toasted muffins, toasted crumpets and fast toast. The Magimix Vision Toaster comes top in all these requirements – the chance to watch the toast cooking a plus feature.
This toaster is great for the man who is of the opinion there is no point in heating up the grill in the cooker for a couple of slices of toast – a total waste of electricity. The side by side design means it fits on the work surface neatly, although we would have it on the table for easy access. Just so you know, this toaster is a Which Best Buy and although pricey at £145 it has good user reviews.
OK, so a toaster is not appropriate for your dad. What about a book?
How about the Penguin series devoted to Simenon’s books – he may well enjoy the first Inspector Maigret novel Pietr the Latvian, if only for nostalgic reasons! Penguin are publishing the entire series of the Maigret novels, so this could cover your gifts for several years!
Confessions of The World’s Best Father – a tongue in cheek series of web entries that started an internet phenomenon. His bewilderment as to how to best raise a child makes Dave Engledow’s book an amusing read. The photographs are pretty good too!
If you’d prefer to give a more sober present, you could go for The Death of Money. James Rickards shows how we could avoid financial collapse.
James Lovelock’s A Rough Ride to the Future confirms his belief that the survival of the human race is one of the most important steps in the evolution of our planet.
With Flowers Shows happening all over the country why not get tickets?
- For instance the Blenheim flower show 20-22 June. http://blenheimflowershow.co.uk/
- Hampton Court Flower Show is on from 8 to 13 July. Yes, it’s pricey but it’s big, a great time to talk to like minded gardeners, many exhibitors are readily accessible and it’s generally good weather! Link
- Harrogate Flower Show is 12-14 September. http://www.flowershow.org.uk/
If your dad is a keen veggie grower he might just like a copy of the Suttons Vegetable Garden Planner <firstname.lastname@example.org> An absolutely winner for us – it takes out all the guesswork and is an easy to refer to record throughout the year.
Backdoor shoes – if your dad is constantly in and out of the garden, he might well like a pair of lightweight Backdoor Shoes to slip on and off. Might keep mum happy too with less mud to clear up. We love ‘em, ours has taken 4 years of hard wear and need replacing now. Which design to choose will be a challenge!
Does this portable USB iShaver razor appeal? Designed to easily slip in a pocket or washbag significant features include:
- Recharge via USB
- Stylishly sleek compact design
- Ultra-thin net foil with floating blades
- Cleaning brush included
- Easy on/off switch
- Comes in a high gloss case and ultra-thin net foil with floating blades for a close, comfortable shave
Finally, some alcohol? Yes, it is a bit of a get out clause, here are some suggestions
You could sign him up for Naked Wines. The company was started up by two former employees of Virgin Wines, with the added ethos of supporting the wine producers, all small scale but dedicated growers. You might like to make your dad a wine angel! Sounds fun? Here’s a link.
Taylor’s 10 year old Tawny Port is rather tasty, we keep some for special occasions and in the winter when we feel the need for something to keep us warm. http://taylor.pt/en/port-wine-ratings-awards/press-comments/
Lastly, for the dad with a dog. The Forestry Commission England has created a one-stop-shop for owners and their dogs looking to take a break in and around forests and woodlands. The Ruff Guide to the Forest showcases 34 Forestry Commission locations across England, highlighting each site’s trails and facilities suitable for dogs, along with dog-friendly places to stay nearby.
Phew, will have to take a break now and go for a spot of weeding! The sun’s out and I’ll don my Backdoor Shoes, pick up the handy trowel with its graduated scale for planting seedlings, put on my Ethel gloves and make sure the waterproof jacket is by the backdoor in case of an unexpected show.
Amily Grossman, gardening expert and occasional contributor to In Balance Magazine
My favourite garden press event was held this month and try as I might I didn’t get to visit all the stands I wanted but the ones I did visit were very rewarding.
My intention was to source plants for the front garden and give it a completely new look this year and I found some great new plants. Beautiful Monet coloured petunias for the hanging basket and scented begonias for the front of the bed from Gardening Direct, excitingly coloured sweet peas from Kings and from Thompson & Morgan for the Garden Maypoles I have been promised by Haxnicks. Jo Swift suggested white shamrock from Homebase and a wonderful chocolate cosmos that he has chosen for the Chelsea Flower Show garden he has designed for Homebase. I’ll definitely get that cosmos it’s the one plant I can’t resist – they will be available in store from March.
Although the front garden is only 26 ft x 12 ft I still felt the pressure of choosing plants in terms of height, spread and of course colour. So I was really pleased to find Plantify – an inspiring, free online garden design tool available to everyone that I will be using it to redesign the front garden.
This year Crocus has some absolutely gorgeous new plants on offer – one in particular Fairy Magnolia Blush looks absolutely wonderful, as does the white with blue back anemone Wild Swan – if only I had a bigger garden! And the Forest Series of hepaticas look absolutely beautiful, hope I can fit some in.
And just look at these sweet peas from Crocus – irresistible!
At the event I was given far more packets of seeds from Thompson & Morgan, Homebase and Kings than I could ever use so if you would like a packet or two just send a stamped addressed envelope to me. There is a range of flower and vegetable seed, if you would like one or the other, or both, just write veg and/or flower on the back of the envelope.
My grafted tomato plants grew so well last year only to be cut down in their prime by blight that I had moreorless given up on the idea of home grown tomatoes because once blight, a disease of the foliage and fruit causing rotting, is in the soil it is difficult to avoid further contamination.
Then I came across the Quadgrow Planter. It has four pots that sit in a reservoir of water, taking away the possibility of erratic watering. It’s possible to link it direct to a water source either mains water or a water butt. I plan on siting it on a path in a south facing part of the garden. I’m hoping that particular cunning plan will mean blight won’t get a look in with the plants getting a steady supply of water and nutrients.
I have been promised some grafted tomato plants that have two varieties on each plant! Sounds really exciting.
My Heath Robinson style protection for the brassicas worked really well last year, deterring the pigeons and cabbage white butterflies, even though the netting was not wide enough and I had to use additional netting. This year I’ll be trying out a crop cage from Greentree Products that should work much better. Easy to fix clips and netting ties sound very attractive. Greentree are also supplying a Grow Cloche to try with one of our metre square raised beds. We’re convinced this will be much better than the hoops and fleece we used last year that has gradually broken down since last autumn.
Absolutely fascinated by insects, I was taken with the insect house from Neudorf, available on the web. One is on its way and I’m looking forward to observing what uses its 5 star bedrooms! The mason bees love a pipe filled with nesting tubes I’ve had for year and are fascinating to watch – see short video. I’m hoping for a wider range of insects this year that will give more photographic opportunities.
My gardening shoes have given me really good service for the last 17 years and I decided to replace them with a pair of Backdoor shoes. I chose ones with the bluebell print but as you will see on their website there are many other flower designs to choose from.
A range of gardening gloves were on offer and I thought it was time to replace a pair of Skoma gloves I’ve used continuously for the past three years and have seen better days. I liked them because they were flexible, wicked away perspiration, and gave me sensitivity, lacking in some gloves where you can’t feel anything. They survived frequent washing in the washing machine, but recently they have hardened a little and so I’ll be test driving three different levels of protection from Joe’s gloves – all rather brightly coloured – at least they won’t get lost in the compost bin. And a pair from Ethel Gloves, made from goatskin and bamboo, referred to as the little black dress of gardening! I have to admit they are rather stylish, I’m tempted to just use them for driving!
A rolling composter, one that be kept at ground level and pushed backwards and forwards to aerate your compost is by far the fastest way of creating compost – ready in six weeks! I’ll be trying out the Rollmix Composter and will write about how it works for us.
As you can imagine I had rather a lot to get home and was glad to reach my comfy chair by the fire, have a quick snooze and dream about the garden this year.
Val Reynolds, Editor