October | Blog Post
Well, hello dear reader and welcome to my very first blog.
Briers have kindly asked me to test some of their products and write an honest opinion while I am looking after our fifteen acre plot in Somerset. Life is busy with five children, two dogs, one cat, six hens, twenty three sheep and ten thousand bees but I enjoy the ups and downs of it all. I'm not an expert, I am not a professional, I just enjoy our country life in beautiful rural Somerset and all that it has to offer.
Part of the fifteen acres are for the sheep to munch on and the remaining three acres are for us to enjoy. There is an orchard, a vegetable patch, a cut flower garden, a pond, an ornamental garden, a fruit cage and a courtyard. I have very little help, apart from my lovely husband, who is brilliant with lawns and hedges, the sheep shearer once a year and my neighbour who helps me with the beehive. The children love the garden but are mainly found in the fruit cage looking for ripe raspberries. Oh well…hopefully they will enjoy gardening too when they get older. Apart from the front garden and the courtyard, the whole of the garden is on a steep hill. Our soil here is heavy clay but I have learned that roses, amongst other plants, absolutely thrive on clay, so all is not lost as I simply love roses.
My project this month is do transform an unloved, weed infested large border (7m x 1.5m) into a mixed border with all year round colour and wildlife friendly. This has been on my mind for a while but I have left it last as I knew I would have to dig out tough perennial weeds in thick wet clay. But there is no excuse now, the little ones are back at school and the older ones are back at uni and work. The weather is fine, autumn is the ideal season to plant, the soil is neither too sticky nor too hard, so let’s give it a go! So, thank you Briers for sending me a selection of gloves, I will put them through a gruelling four week gardening regime and see what I think of them. On opening the parcel, I was pleasantly surprised by the bright colours of pink, purple and yellow. I love colour and often wear bright coloured clothes, even in winter. We all need a bit of colour in our lives and this parcel certainly cheered me up, on an otherwise grey Wednesday.
The three pairs of gloves I have been testing are called Lady Gardener in lavender (ref B0648) and in pink (ref B0223), as well as the Golden Leather gloves (ref B6532). The Lady gardeners Gloves fitted perfectly thanks to a cleverly designed Velcro strap around the wrist. Gloves on, I tackled nasty old perennial weeds, some of them were well established patches of thistles and nettles. I was preparing myself for a painful sting, all for the sake of testing, but I am glad to say, I didn't feel a thing even when I pulled this huge thistle. I didn’t find them right for tackling prickly roses though, although the gloves are quite thick, I could feel the thorns a little if I squeezed my hands around a stem. For rose pruning, I used the Golden Leather gloves (ref B6532), which I have written about a bit further down.
With my Lady Gardener Gloves on, I attempted to transform it this border into a blank canvas ready for planting. These poor gloves went through a lot, from heavy digging, weeding, carrying bricks for marking the edge of my new border, digging out stones, shovelling wheelbarrows full of horse manure. The gloves stayed nicely snug, my hands didn't getting sweaty and the soil didn't get in. My finger nails remained clean which was greatly appreciated when unexpected friends popped in for a cup of tea. The Velcro is still working perfectly well, although my gloves are now a month old and I use them most days. Not just for gardening but also to handle sheep, feed the hens, collect their eggs, carry logs in the house, even walking the dog as Humbug (my working cocker puppy) pulls tightly on the lead! While having a cup of tea, Humbug decided to run away with one of my glove and unfortunately enjoyed chewing it for a few minutes. I didn't know he was doing so as I was on the phone, but apart from a couple of tiny little holes at the wrist, it is surprisingly still intact! So there you go, even strong puppy teeth didn't do too much damage as the gloves are quite thick. On the whole, I was very impressed with them and would recommend them to a friend.
The second pair I tested were the beautifully soft Golden leather gloves (ref B6532). At first glance, I thought they looked far too luxurious to wear around the garden, made with ‘butter yellow’ so‑ leather, and wouldn’t look out of place with a smart coat on a trip out in the winter. They are lined and terribly cosy but would they get a little too warm in the summer? That is another test for another day…
But why should a gardener not look smart and work in comfort and luxury? So off I go, up my hill, to the cut flower garden armed with my secateurs and wearing my Golden gloves, on a mission to get on with the job. I started pruning my long bed of Queen Elizabeth roses, which have lethal thorns up and down their tall stems. Well, I am glad to say it was a joy to handle the bundles of prickly stems. I tentatively squeezed the roses at first, then harder and harder until, without thinking about it, I just chopped and carried bundles after bundles of chopped roses to the bonfire pile. I would ideally have preferred wearing the longer style gloves (golden leather gauntlets B6534) as they would have saved my coat sleeves from being ripped but my hands were beautifully protected. I wouldn’t use them anywhere near soil, they would get badly stained and are too thick for handling weeds or plants. I would only keep them for jobs such as pruning or carrying logs. I think this would make a beautiful present for a keen rose gardener.
I’m glad to say that my border is now weed free (well nearly…) and is nearly fully planted. I started with a backbone of evergreens to add structure all year round, such as Box (Buxus sempervirens) and Euphorbias (Euphorbia Characias). I planted hundreds of bulbs, I am a massive bulb fan, as they are so easy and full of promise for the year ahead. There are crocuses, narcissus, alliums and tulips bulbs safely tucked underground which will flower in succession from February until June. Penstemon, Geranium Rozanne and lupins are also in and all I am waiting for now, is my bare roots heavenly scented David Austin’s roses, which are coming later in November.
Don’t miss my November blog where I will test Briers’ premium range neoprene rubber boots and their Chelsea Rubber Boots. Let’s see if they are as good as they claim to be…
To see more of what I’m getting up to in my Somerset garden, follow me on instagram, Petals_on_the_hills.
Until then, enjoy the outdoors and all that October has to offer.