My favourite new garden tools and books
Garden bloggers see alot of new garden tools and books at the beginning of the gardening year.
This year, garden tools are lighter and stronger than they’ve ever been before. I’ve been given several brands to review, but am only going to write about the ones that I really like.
There are some affiliate links to Amazon in this post. This means you can click through to buy. If you do, I may receive a small fee.
The best loppers
Wilkinson Sword sent me their Ultralight Bypass Loppers to review. They really are ultra-light – I just couldn’t believe how little they weighed. And they cut well, with a good clean cut.
I will still have to pay someone to prune larger branches on my trees properly, but these loppers have hugely expanded the amount of pruning I can do myself. Their astonishing lightness and sharp cut mean that I can reach further up or into shrubs and trees.
Sold as suitable for pruning up 25mm diameter branches – but I did manage to cut some slightly thicker branches with them, too.
It’s well worth checking out all the extra light varieties in new garden tools, as innovative materials have made a huge difference to how they last. I’ve only had these loppers for a few months, but they feel sturdy and hard-wearing as well as very light.
The best new garden tools – trowels
There are some very cunning new trowels on the market. There are two brands I particularly like. One is the Burgon & Ball Florabrite range of luminescent pink and yellow new garden tools. There are gloves, hand forks, hand trowels, snippers and more, all in ultra-bright colours. The idea is that you stop losing hand tools by dropping them in the vegetation – you can see them easily if you drop them.
Burgon & Ball tools are endorsed by the RHS – I’ve bought some and also been given some to review, and have generally found them comfortable and hard-wearing.
The other planting trowel I really like is another Wilkinson Sword product – their Hand Transplanter trowel. It has a depth measure in inches and centimetres up the side of the blade.
It’s not that I’m particularly fussy about planting distances, but I have often planted vegetables too close together – so they haven’t been as productive as they could have been. Or I’ve left overly large gaps in borders, because I haven’t planted flowers close enough. Of course, I could find a ruler, but I tried that and lost it…this is a really sensible trowel.
The best secateurs
I have been given three different brands of secateurs to review over the past six months, but I am not going to mention any of them.
None of them were as comfortable and efficient as the Felco secateurs I bought 15 years ago. It’s not fair to give a brand a negative review, because I am not ‘Which’ or ‘Good Housekeeping.’ These aren’t tests performed in clinical conditions. I’m just an individual with an opinion. What suits me may not suit you, or vice versa.
On the other hand, I’ve found that many professional gardeners agree with me about Felco. They are more expensive than most secateurs. I’d suggest doing without something else in the garden in order to buy them.
The best garden tie
The Soft Tie Company sent me a roll of dark green soft tie to review. It’s a bit like tying your shrubs, stems and branches up with an old stocking or a pair tights ( a useful gardener’s trick). But it’s finer, and more attractive than an old stocking, which always does look as if you’d just got undressed in the garden.
The Soft Tie is stretchy and bio-degradable. It will drop off naturally within 12-14 months and decompose naturally in the garden.
For my basic essential tool set, see 7 essential garden tools.
The best indulgent present for garden lovers
The Thoughtful Gardener, An Intelligent Approach to Garden Design by Jinny Blom is a book for the garden-lover who likes to dream. It’s not a ‘how to have a Jinny Blom garden’, but a reflective journey through the way Jinny thinks and plans.
Pick it up when you can’t sleep. Three o-clock in the morning is a wonderful time to drift through Jinny’s romantic, flower-filled gardens, frothing with cow parsley and climbing roses. It’s a Number 1 best-seller in Amazon’s garden design list, so I’m clearly not the only person who thinks this is one of the most beguiling garden books published recently.
There are some fascinating insights into how Jinny works. She is deeply rooted in the landscape, referring to the importance of understanding the geology of your garden. She advises walking around the area you live in when you’re planning your garden. And her gardens use locally sourced materials.
This is not a book for minimalist, modernist gardener, but she also stresses the importance of structure. There are straight lines to anchor the exuberant planting.
The Thoughtful Gardener also has garden plans, as well as beautiful photographs. Buy it, and wallow.
Best present for the new gardener
If you have a friend who has just moved, thus acquiring a larger garden, then your housewarming present must be The Deckchair Gardener, An Improper Gardening Manual by Anne Wareham.
When we moved here thirteen years ago, we came from a London house with a tiny courtyard garden. This house had one fifth of an acre of immaculately planted and cared-for garden. I was way out of my depth.
A book like this would have been very helpful, although Helen Yemm’s Gardening in Pyjamas got me started.
Back to The Deckchair Gardener, however. Anne Wareham de-bunks most of the monthly ‘jobs to do in the garden.’ The basic message is that you can go a long way towards creating a beautiful garden just by mulching and occasionally getting out your hedge trimmer.
Everything else should be added in because you enjoy doing it, not because you ‘have to do it.’
Anne herself is a very knowledgeable gardener, and has created an outstanding garden Veddw, from a field. She and her photographer husband did it on a tight budget, although Alan Titchmarsh rates it as one of his ’10 best British gardens.’
The Deckchair Gardener would also be an excellent present for anyone who threatens to move house ‘because the garden is getting too much for them.’ Or buy it for yourself if you feel like lazing in bed with a cup of coffee rather than going out and gardening. It’s a fun read.
Best investment if you’ve got an allotment
Charles Dowding has achieved hero – or even saint – status amongst vegetables gardeners. He has stopped us digging and double-digging.
Do you want a new raised bed? Just lay the planks on top of your established lawn. Or don’t even add wooden edging – you can simply pile compost and cow manure where you want the bed to be. The worms will rot it all down.
Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Garden Diary from www.charlesdowding.co.uk is a week-by-week manual on how to grow vegetables. Charles’s own garden is ‘middlesized’, so his advice is rooted in the home gardener.
There are seasonal prompts and useful tips on when to sow seeds, how to deal with pests and harvesting tips. Note: this isn’t a diary for dates – it’s a diary you can use to record your garden growing successes and failures. I don’t think you’d use it to book in meetings and parties, but I suppose you could.
For more books, see My 10 Most Useful and Inspiring Gardening Books
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