Monday, 21 November 2011

Solving a thorny problem

Brambles - ugh!

Like many gardeners, I am regularly at war with brambles. I cannot control the council land that my garden backs onto. Although the council have promised, a couple of times, to remove the brambles, this has yet to happen. I clearly need to hassle them more. In the meantime, I have to do what I can to keep the council's brambles from trying to take over my garden.

This war has inevitably led to some injuries. Actually, quite a few injuries. There has been thorns stuck in my fingers. There has been scratches on my arms. There has been blood. It's not been a pretty sight. And I really need to stop swearing bloody murder every time I'm hurt. There are children living next door.

I've tried different types of so-called pruning gloves over the last couple of years but so far none of them have lived up to their name. So when at the Chelsea Flower Show this year, I specifically looked for some gloves that would stand up to brambles and that would leave my poor hands and arms unscathed and my need for band aids diminished. And the ears of my neighbours children uncovered.

Of all the stands I visited, the Gold Leaf glove stand looked the most promising. They had a glove on offer called a Tough Touch glove. It's made with leather, and has a gauntlet like cuff (you know, like knights used to wear) that goes over the wrist and part way up the arm.

Trying them on they felt good, warm too (fleecy inside). But would they really do the job? Obviously the sales people were used to suspicious gardeners, so they had some rose stems with thorns on hand (as you do) to demonstrate the effectiveness of the gloves. Wearing the glove and then grabbing the thorny stem, they did appear to be very strong and I didn't get any stinging or cuts. What's more the gloves were quite comfortable. Whilst I was still not 100 per cent convinced how they would work in practice, they were the best thing I'd seen so I decided to give them a go. I gave them £24, they gave me an expensive pair of gloves that I hoped would work.

I had a couple of bramble advances into my home garden over the summer that I had to halt, and used the gloves. They appeared to do the job. But I was still thinking, but what about when it's a whole bramble patch? Yes, I'm hard to please.

Fast forward to last weekend. I was talking part in my Allotment Association's working party on Sunday. A large part of it was spent clearing brambles. I suspect this may be a regular occurrence on lotties up and down the country! So, out came the magic gauntlet gloves and I got to work.

You know what? They bloody worked. I was right in the thick of it, grabbing thorny branches, pruning and carrying a stack of the thorny buggers to the fast-growing-pile-of-things-to-burn. All through it, I didn't get one cut or scratch on my hand or wrists. I have to say, I'm quite impressed.

They don't stop branches falling on my head because I cut the wrong angle and then didn't get out of the way quickly enough. They won't stop brambles growing in the first place. But they did do just what they said on the tin. And the neighbours children can play outside without bursts of bad language disturbing their play. Finally, a solution to a thorny problem.

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