Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Product review number 4, Wilkinson Sword Border fork and spade

There comes a time when even I have to admit defeat and sadly this test was it. I have tried and tried in the past to use border spades and forks, from ladies versions to children's sized however I simply cannot find a way to hold them without bruising my arms. I have to push my left, diddy arm through the front of the handle so that it sticks out through the back, which is a very uncomfortable way to stand and gives me huge bruises, along with this I am unable to lift my leg high enough to put it on the foot plate, so really its all-round no go for me, However up steps one very eager tester in the form of my hubby, James (you're getting to know him quite well know) and off we pop into a very mild and boggy garden in search of something to dig. What better way to test a border spade than digging a hedgehog tunnel! Brilliant now the little chaps and chapesses can wander in and out as they like. We do try hard to encourage as much wildlife as we can into the garden.

Firstly James noticed the slightly angled handle and wasn't really sure what, if any difference this would make however he soon realised that it made for a much improved hold on the spade. The fork is angled forwards slightly in the same manner. They both have a red soft grip section around the handle too which means less slippage when you get all hot and bothered. The spade and fork were equally light weight meaning much less exertion is needed for the arduous task of digging. The forward position of the handle also allows for much easier turning over of the soil or in our case the compost bin, when using the border fork. As we now have a bigger, open compost bin it has become rather overfilled and hasn't been turned as it is meant to be but with this easy grip, light fork it was so much easier. A nicely weighted tool that means you really can carry on for longer. The old fork would get lots of leaves and bits of rotting veg stuck on the tines but this one appeared much less prone to this and a simple shake soon made anything drop off. James has enjoyed these two products so much he has already retired his old ones. Well not really retired they will be getting a new garden as our Son will getting them. He has a fabulous new, blank canvas garden which I can’t wait to get my hands on.


Overall then two great products in a good price range. If you need a good quality, lightweight all-rounder then go for these. They are not big and bulky but are certainly more than capable of giving you years of good digging. As I have said before the wooden handled garden tools are fast becoming a favourite with James. He loves the soft yet strong feel they offer. He feels fully confident to tackle any job, all we need to do now is keep everything crossed we get some hedgehogs.





Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Trial No:3 Wolf-Garten pruning saw, branch hook and multi change handles

Product review. Wolf – Garten multi change pruning saw and branch hook.







Another month has whizzed by and here we are in a lovely mild December. Thankfully this weather has meant I could give this month’s products a thorough testing.
The products on offer this month are from Wolf-Garten’s multi change system including a brilliant telescopic handle that extends from 170 cm to 300cm which gives it a long reach for those out of the way branches. Along with a shorter hand held version, a 150 cm not extendable handle for close up usage.
Two multi change tools to attach to the handles, the super sharp curved pruning saw and a very handy branch hook to enable you to grab high branches to pull towards you in readiness for pruning.
This test was mainly carried out by my husband James, who you are all getting to know very well now. I was unable to test these products as my disability denied me the pleasure but as usual I did give it a go with hilarious results. So the views and comments are mainly from James and I became the photographer for this test.
Both of us were like excitable children when we unwrapped the pruning saw and telescopic handle, having the same thought. At long last we can get rid of a dead branch that has been bugging us both for five years! It has been just out reach although on many occasions James has wanted to climb a ladder to get it, I was not having that, he would have fallen off without a doubt. When your ladder holder is only 4 foot 9 and the climber is nearly 6 feet it will only end in disaster.
We extended the pole to its full 300 cm after attaching the pruning saw, sadly James did catch his finger when clicking the saw into place so just take care when attaching the saw. It does come with a safety section that you clip over the pole, just in case it should fall but it clicks in so strongly I don’t think that would happen. Initially the saw can be a tad wobbly for the first few strokes, which is only to be expected as it is so high yet once it has bitten into the branch it cuts through with ease, a few good pushes and pulls and timber one branch on the floor.
The front garden has a very old laburnum tree with one branch in particular that James dislikes as every time he mows the lawn it bops him on the head. Not anymore, it’s a goner! This branch was the ideal test for the branch hook. Not only does this nifty tool allow you to pull the branch towards you it also allows you to prop them up thereby acting as a second person holding the branch still. James used the short handle with the pruning saw attached and found this a more than simple job. He needed very little effort to saw through the relatively thick branch and with the branch hook holding it steady he found he could cut much closer to the tree. The hook also meant that when the branch was cut through it fell away from the trunk with a clean cut rather than ripping the end bit off which can happen if you need to hold the branch yourself, as it usually falls down before the final cut. A good clean cut means that the tree is not damaged and the end result is a neater finish with no nasty bits sticking out. An all-round thumbs up. As James thought this tool was so good I wanted to try… oh dear verdict here is you definitely need hands for this job but it was very funny trying my hardest to push and pull the saw, I did manage a few cuts as the saw is super sharp but that was it, I could have been out there for days, I simply didn’t have the hands for the job. Don’t get me wrong you really don’t need to be strong though just be able to actually hold the handle. You can’t say I didn’t try though J
One last point that James thought was useful and sensible was the lockable blade cover. The teeth are very sharp and having a cover is great and this one is even better as it locks on so if you happen to drop the blade there is no chance of damaging it or more importantly yourself.


The overall verdict then is excellent quality, superior cutting blade and jolly useful if you have any trees that are in need of a winter sort out.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Product trial no:2 Wilkinson Sword

For the last few weeks I have been putting three Wilkinson Sword garden tools through their paces. A patio knife, a weed grubber (which I had never heard of) and a large plastic head garden rake.

So without further ado here are the results.

1, Patio knife.

As this is a ground level job it is one that I can not manage, bring on one handy hubby and let the trial begin. Immediately James liked the feel of this short wooden handled tool, his old one is plastic and feels somewhat flimsy compared to this good strong wooden handle, he thought it was much more useful as he could apply more pressure where needed especially when using the flat blade edge for chopping the weeds that were growing close to any brick work. The angle of the blade was perfect for getting deep in between the paving slabs and where we had big weeds popping up it was fantastic at loosening the roots which made them simple to pull up complete with the whole root. I am ashamed to say our patio needed a serious clear so this fine tool came in very handy. The patio knife certainly passed James' fussy tool taste and he has squirreled it away in an "I'm not sharing" manner, which is praise indeed. I felt the quality of the patio knife was top notch, obviously it has a shape blade so use with care but it really does do the job well, one quick slice in the crevices and all the weeds, grass and debris comes out.


2. Weed Grubber.

My turn now to get my mitts on the weed grubber. I must admit this is a new tool to me and I wasn't really sure that I needed such a thing. how wrong could I be? I was amazed at how easy this tool shifted the deep rooted weeds in my front gardens raised beds. My two fingers make this job a tad tricky but the grubber was actually like having some extra fingers! a huge bonus let me tell you. I picked a particularly large dandelion which are notorious for their long roots , wiggled the two pronged finger bits around the stem pushed back on the handle and pop! out came the entire weed, root and all! A very happy weeder here.

Wooden handle tools are becoming a firm favourite for me, they feel so smooth and light weight, I used to think they would be heavy and unwieldy but that's not the case at all. I also liked the fact that the metal section was flat and thin, this enabled me to hold it with ease. This tool would really help anyone with a weaker grip and or wrists as it removes the need to grip the weed at all. It would also be useful to get into those hard to reach places and further back in the border, and say goodbye to getting stung by nettles as this neat little tool means you will never have to pull one up with your bare hands again.






3. Garden rake.

Raking leaves is usually a long laborious job and you constantly have to keep thinking " lovely leaf mulch" to keep you going, yet the Wilkinson Sword plastic head rake makes light work of the job in hand. James loved it so much he has gathered 12 black bin bags worth of leaves all ready to start making lots of gorgeous mulch for next years garden, usually he gives up after about three bags, now he is willing the leaves to drop off the trees. At the risk of repeating myself this rake really is a goody, excellent quality, soft wood that seems to mold to your hands, the extra large plastic head sweeps up a vast amount of leaves at a time making it much faster than normal. The flat plastic ends of the head stops any leaves getting spiked onto the head which then need scraping off by hand, none of this with this rake, it also works across all surfaces from slabs to grass to borders, it easily glides from one to the other bringing the leaves with it. James was super impressed that it worked equally well at getting the driveway clear. I did give raking a go so I could write about it properly, the twisting and pulling action required is something I avoid but I did manage to rake up a good amount of leaves with this rake. the smooth wooden handle slid easily through my arm. Let me explain, I have to hold the handle tucked under my left arm (no hand on my left side) and then use my right hand as a sort of balance, anyway then I had to throw the rake outwards and pull back, jobs a good'un. The rake head is very tough yet super flexible thus hardly any effort is needed, making it a more enjoyable and faster garden task. In fact another family member wanted a go too. Our little granddaughter Kayleigh (squishy to us), only 22 months old loved helping Ga Ga (this is her name for James, Grandad). Her little face lit up while holding the handle and pushing it about, mind you I am not too sure how helpful she was when it came to bagging up the leaves but oh boy did she enjoy stomping about, throwing the leaves in the air and yelling "tidy up ga ga " she had us in stitches and to me that's the whole point of gardening, fun, laughter and the simple enjoyment of it all and having the right tool for every job only enhances the enjoyment. Later on that day we went to visit my father-in-law, who happens to live next door and he was bemoaning his tiny leaf rake and did we have a better one? Funny you should ask, we let him borrow the Wilkinson Sword  and he was amazed at how much better it was, in fact he loved it so much he now wants one for Christmas! Sold on the rake then and there is no better recommendation than that. From 22 months to 78 years old this rake was a true hit across the ages, a must for every gardening family.








Links to products:

Leaf rake

Patio Knife

Weeder



Friday, 9 October 2015

Wolf-Garten product trials no:1. Secateurs and hedge shears

Welcome to my very first Wolf-Garten garden tools trials blog. This is a fabulous year long project that I am really over whelmed to be part of. Over the next year I will trialling all sorts of Wolf-Garten gardening tools from my own unique perspective. For those of you who are new to my blog, I am a disabled gardener with an ambition to inspire everyone to give gardening a go, its great for your health and I hope to prove their are no barriers to gardening. I have two fingers, severe arthritis, no proper hips that makes walking and standing for long periods very difficult and painful, however once in my garden I forget all this and get totally lost in my garden. I have tested many different garden tools over the past few years in my mission to find the best tools for anyone but also those with disabilities, back problems, visual impairments anything really and I have been so very lucky to have been asked by Wolf-Garten to trial their tools and give my honest opinions here on my blog. I hope you will enjoy this journey with me. Right then enough waffle lets get on with it.

Product one: Bypass secateurs.

Well what can I say? amazing, wow, wonderful and any other outstanding descriptions you can think of. I know that all sounds too far fetched but trust me I have tried nearly every pair of secateurs I can get my hands on and have simply never been able to use them but these were incredible. Firstly I love the Wolf-Garten colours, vibrant yellow and red which makes them ideal for finding in the undergrowth even for anyone with sight issues. If like me you are a drop it and lose it gardener these brightly coloured tools put an end to that, no more fruitless searching for long lost tools these simply shout out "here I am". The real reason I love these secateurs is the weight and ease of use. I can actually hold them in one hand and my hand is very small, the great addition of a rubber strip on the handle is a bonus as it aids holding and prevents any slipping. The cutting action is smooth and clean, something I have not achieved before, I usually get a ragged cut that damages the plant but no such thing with these. They truly are outstanding. My husband James, who has good strong arms and wrists was very impressed with the ease at which they chopped through thicker branches effortlessly therefore less wrist and hand ache. I have had a great time chopping back our huge buddleia which I have had to leave to James in the past. Now I can do it he is feeling a bit left out but he definitely isn't missing my constant instructions of "oh not that branch, this one" or "No higher up, lower down, left a bit" however these secateurs have created a new job for him, picking up my ever growing pile of prunings.

Unfortunately there were two small problems for me. The first being the packaging. I found it impossible to get the plastic cover off. I admit though I do struggle with a lot of packages on all products as my disability makes them hard to open so Wolf-Garten are not alone in this area. The other slight and temporary issue was the release button which I found particularly difficult to move on first use, although after three or four prunings the release button has loosened, although most definitely still strong enough to hold the blades closed. So all in all a huge thumbs up (if I had some thumbs to put up) these are my favourite bypass secateurs and they will be getting many many outings in my newly pruned garden.





Product Two: Hedge Shears

The first thing I noticed about these shears was the incredibly smooth, soft and almost warm feeling wooden handles. they are so easy to hold and again they are balanced really well making chopping with them a dream. I used them unconventionally as I used them as a mass dead-heading tool for woody stems. Usually  I have to do this one stem at a time and it just takes forever and becomes a laborious job that I loathe. Now I can just swiftly chop a couple of times and job done! The little rubber bobbles on the handles are great as they stop the handles coming to a fast and jarring stop, a superior hedging shear in my opinion but don't take my word for it James thoroughly enjoyed using them. He tested them on some conifers which he steers clear off as they bring him out in a rash but he braved them for this trial and was pleasantly surprised . Any way up, any angle, the shears just glided through the branches with a very satisfying chop, a noise that took my straight back to my childhood watching my grandparents trim their privet hedge. so an all round enjoyable experience for us both.

I could not find any downsides with these shears. The packaging was simple and the quality outstanding, what more can I say?




Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Bakker Spalding collaboration

Just a quick little post with some really exciting news.

After several emails back and forth and a lovely lunch I am going to be doing some great blogs and bulb trials for Bakker Spalding plants and bulbs. The first will be all about their lilies and I will be testing many different varieties and writing all about them. I am a recent convert to lilies so am really excited to have been asked to take part in this project. I may also be writing some bits and bobs in their upcoming magazines. Bakker Spalding are updating their website and there will be a whole host of new and exciting things going.

Here is a link to their current offerings online, take a look at the lily bulbs as I will be growing quite a few of them. If there is anything you would like me write about concerning the lilies then please do let me know, I like to cover the things that the readers really want to know. You can either message me here on on my facebook page The Two fingered Gardener.

http://www.bakker.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/TheTwoFingeredGardener


That's all for now but I am keeping my fingers crossed for some more big exciting news in the next few weeks.



Friday, 31 July 2015

Sacrewell Mill

I am a designer!well of sorts anyway. I am currently undertaking a fabulous project with Sacrewell Mill, near Peterborough on a restoration of the Mill and gardens. I have had the amazing fortune to be designing the raised beds ensuring that the garden will accessible to all, able bodied and those with disabilities alike.

A lottery heritage fund was granted for the project and finally after months of painstaking rebuilding and restoring the Mill re opened on 19th July this year (2015)

So far only two raised beds are up and running but there are more to come. The second batch of beds will be far more suitable to wheelchair users. the current ones are going to be great for children, and people whose disabilities require a raised area, such as those with eye sight problems, arthritis and that sort of thing, no bending required here. It has been hard to try and make sure this garden will actually be fully accessible to all but I have loved every minute so far and can't wait to meet with the carpenters at the local college to start on the second raised beds.

There is also going to be a fabulous Heritage Orchard and a sensory garden that I hope to be part of too.

I got quite the surprise I can tell you when out of the blue I received a Facebook message from the lovely Jane Harrison (project manager) to say that I had been recommended to her! me?? really? I really was chuffed. After out first meeting it was clear we would get on like a house on fire, we never stopped giggling especially when I happened to mention that I adore penguins and was about to go to Birmingham sea life to feed them for my birthday. We both broke into a Brummy accent and now believe all penguins speak with a Birmingham accent :):) What a right pair we are.

On the day the private party arrived to show off the results so far I spent most of the time blushing. It sounded very strange to hear myself being introduced as "the designer" I soon got used to it though. It was a wonderful party with THE best hog roast I have ever tasted!

There is much much more to come on this project and I really can't wait to see the next beds, but for now here are a few photos of the project so far, they even have their own beehive high up on a chimney stack!





Saturday, 27 September 2014

New Amateur gardening features! exciting times ahead

Oh yes indeed my fellow gardeners I am one very happy garden writer as I have been commissioned to write a further two features for the great garden magazine that is Amateur Gardening :) This sort of makes me part of the official team now which is really great.

I can't say much on the features as yet, so you will have to hang on for a bit longer but the first one will be in in November or December so I have to get my writing skates on. One thing I can say is that of the garden centres so far visited all have given me permission to take photos, one manager was a little reluctant as its company policy for NO photos but I talked her round :) So all is going well at the moment.

I do love being able to write about the things I love and the things I know about e.g. gardening and disability!

Thanks AG for all your continuing support over the last three years, I can't believe it has been three years since my first feature!


Anyway nothing more can said right now so here's a few garden shots to keep you going :)