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Garden Press Event 2013

February 14, 2013


I went along to the annual Garden Press Event today. In previous years it’s been held at the RHS Halls in Westminster but this year it moved to the Barbican. The Barbican is a maze of sharp angles and concrete. Designed to make you feel lost and a bit confused. I’ve been there a few times for concerts and plays but today’s event was in an exhibition hall I hadn’t been to before. Needless to say I took a few wrong turns before I found where I was supposed to be. But it meant that I went past the queue for the Rain Room, which reminded me I really must go and see that before it finishes.

Anyway, there’s rarely much that is new at these garden shows, but amongst the people I chatted to and things I picked up, these caught my eye:

Flexi Spray from Hozelock

When I worked at Savill Gardens and then Chelsea Physic Garden we used lances for watering plants all the time. They were long metal attachments that connected to the end of a hose and were really convenient for doing a lot of watering. Their long reach allows you to accurately and comfortably direct the water flow to the soil level of plants and pots. You don’t really see them in domestic use but Hozelock have brought out this new Flexi Spray product that does the same kind of thing. Only it’s extra whizzy. For a start it’s bendy, which means you can use it as a sprinkler, either with it laying on the floor or wrapping it round an upright stand such as a spade handle. And it also has four different water flow settings which you select by twisting the head. Hozelock products are normally well made so I’m looking forward to trying this out. It’s available to buy now and costs £29.99 (RRP).

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For those that use grow bags (personally I am not a big fan and don’t use them myself, but many people obviously do) Hozelock have also brought out a product that helps to keep your grow bags evenly watered and allows you to securely poke your canes in to support your tomatoes – tackling two problems that, in my mind, make grow bags a right pain in the derrière to use. It’s called a Growbag Waterer and is basically a trough that holds a reservoir of water (15 litres), on top of which you place your grow bag. Capillary matting sits immersed in the water and runs up the yellow spikes, which pierce into your grow bag. You just have to keep the trough topped up with water. The matting draws water up and keeps the compost in the grow bag evenly moist. You can also push canes through the grow bag and into holes in the trough below, which keeps them in position – no more battling to get canes to stay upright in 10cms of soil whilst supporting your heavy plants (an impossible task). The Growbag Waterer is available from various online stockists and costs around £24.99.

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Ethel bamboo gloves

I nearly always wear gloves when I’m gardening and I’m a loyal user of Showa gardening gloves, which I love. But when I saw these bamboo gloves on the Bulldog stand I was keen to try them out. I got some bamboo socks from mother for Christmas and they are sooo comfy, warm and breathable. These gloves come in a range of colours and are designed to fit snugly. They would make good presents. Looking forward to giving these a go.

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RazorCut Comfort Bypass Pruner from Wilkinson Sword

I’ve been able to get away with relying on my little Burgon & Ball pruners since I lost my Felcos, but I’ve been on the lookout for a pair of larger pruners – Felco-replacements – at a pocket-friendly price. Felcos are great but pricey and I’m keen to give other brands a go. I like the look of this new bypass pruner from Wilkinson Sword. It’s made with Japanese steel blades and has an easy-open lock mechanism – you just squeeze the handles together. And it’s only £19.99. This is the medium-sized pair. It feels really comfy to hold at first try. We’ll see how it does when it’s used in earnest.

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Black Soap from Nether Wallop Trading

I was chatting to the lovely people on the Nether Wallop stand and they were telling me about a product they are going to start selling very soon. It’s called Savon Noir (which means ‘black soap’ in French) by Marius Fabre (a maker of Marseille soap since 1900). It’s an all-natural, multi-purpose soap made from olive oil. Apparently it is common to find it in garden centres in France. You can use it to clean all manner of things in the home and garden and because it is 100% natural and biodegradable you can tip any wastewater out onto the garden afterwards. In the garden it can be used diluted and sprayed onto plants to treat greenflies and red spider mite. In that way it sounds similar to Savona (a fatty acid concentrate). Have you ever tried black soap? There weren’t any samples available today but I’m curious about the product and look forward to giving it a go.

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