By far our bestseller for 2021 was our newest product – the Easy Pallet Planting Pot range! Gone are the days when we saved pallets up for bonfire night… So many of you have told me about your pallet upcycling projects – seats and benches, tables and wall decorations – and now you can plant them up with no effort.
These brilliant pots are made from recycled plastic, and are designed to fit standard pallets by sitting in the top or clipping over the sides. Available in three sizes and four colours their popularity took us by surprise and at several shows we were out of stock. (Sorry!)
Also made from recycled plastic, the Conny Drainpipe/Railing pot is a brilliant way to hide a downpipe and another practical way to introduce vertical planting if you are limited on outside space. The pot clips onto an easy to attach webbing strap which will fit an average (10cm) drainpipe with ease. (Strap included with pot.) Available in the same four colours as the Pallet Pots for simple colour coordination!
Traditionally our first show of the year it feels strange to be heading to Harrogate this late in the calendar, but we will still pack our woollies just in case! The show opens on Thursday 20th for four days and we look forward to seeing you there. Obviously any website orders will not get processed while we are at the showground (or while we are setting up); any orders placed after Saturday 15th May will be despatched Tuesday 25th at the earliest.
It’s looking like this year will be a good strong step on the road back to normal.
We are so looking forward to attending our first show of 2021 – Spring Live! at the South of England Showground, Ardingly on this coming weekend Saturday 24th April – Sunday 25th April. Of course, it will feel different to previous years. There will be limits on the amount of people allowed to attend. We will have to wear face masks, use hand sanitiser, keep our distance from each other, touch things as little as possible. This obviously poses challenges – traditionally we have laid tools out for you to try to help you make your decision about what is right for you. Those demo tools will still be available; they will be kept on the stand and brought out and sanitised when requested. We want your experience to be as close to the good old days as possible and as safe as possible.
The organisers have worked really hard to ensure that this show can go ahead; as frustrating as some of the restrictions will be please remember that they are there for the safety of us all, and that by following the rules we can get our lives back to the way they were.
Several items are showing as out of stock on the website – this is because the stock will be at the show. Don’t panic! More stock will be arriving over the next month, with some new Darlac products making an appearance too.
After Spring Live! we will be getting ready for Harrogate Spring Flower Show at the Yorkshire Showground from Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd May. Looking forward to seeing you all at the showgrounds!
Well, fingers crossed we may get out and about again this year – at the moment most of our regular shows are going ahead (Unfortunately not Suffolk County Show, but it should be back in 2022) so bookings have been made where possible; we are still waiting on dates for Autumn shows but will update the list as information arrives.
It was great to finally get out in the fresh air and get the marquees out of storage! Well done to the organisers at Three Counties Showground for making life seem (almost) normal again. Yes, a smaller show than the regular Autumn show, but plant focused and a great weekend for everyone – exhibitors and visitors alike. Even the weather was perfect. Thank you to all our visitors for following the social distancing guidelines and using the hand sanitiser; it was truly wonderful to see so many of you. Lets hope that spring brings us more shows and social events that are as safe and well managed as this was.
Autumn Show and Game Fair 2020 (South of England Showground)
At the time of this post, the Autumn Show at Ardingly is still going ahead on 3rd & 4th October. However, we all know how quickly rules and regulations can change, so if you have pre-booked your tickets for the show, please remember to double check the shows website www.seas.org.uk/autumn-show/ before you head off to avoid any wasted journeys!
A question that The Gardeners Show Shop hear regularly is “what’s the difference between bypass and anvil?”. The quick answer is that a bypass blade tool cuts against the side of a block, and the anvil tool blade cuts onto the top of the block. But the quick answer doesn’t tell you the more in-depth stuff; nor does it answer the hidden question of “what tool do I need?”. Bypass and Anvil are just two types of cutting tool – snips and shears are often called Bypass but are essentially scissors. Then you have “simple” tools such as knives, axes, saws and hoes which are just a cutting edge. To help you pick the right tool here is a not too technical guide to what we see as the four main types of cutting tools, with some basic tool care tips thrown in for good measure. Enjoy!
Think of a knife. Just a plain basic knife. A handle and a blade. That’s all a simple cutting tool is. You hold the handle, place the blade against whatever you are cutting and then apply pressure at the force and angle that you need to make the cut. Or think of an axe – again, you hold the handle and “swing” or “chop” to make the cut. Precise pressure or brute force, the idea is the same. A simple tool is just plain and simple; one handle, one blade. (You could say no moving parts, but some knives and saws fold!)
A scissor in garden tool terms is the same as the usual kind; two blades cutting against each other. If you take a close look at a pair of scissors you can see that each blade has a flat side (the inner side that touches the opposing blade) and a side with one (or more) angles. As you close the scissor, the cutting edge slides across the flat side of the opposing blade. Whatever is trapped between them is cut. So mind your fingers!
Sometimes the blades are curved – when the scissor is closed you can see a gap and only the ends are touching. As you open the blades the “point of contact” moves down towards the jaw (the point where the two blades are joined). Manufacturing designers do this by so the blade is only cutting where the two blade edges meet, making a more precise cut and, possibly, less wear and tear.
The scissor type of blade is designed for fine work. Snips and shears are ideal for foliage, grass, leaves, herbs, light pruning on soft stems. Deadheading (close to the flower on the soft stuff) is quite different to cutting an inch or two further down on a woody stem – this is when you need to move up to a different tool.
For an example of a scissor blade, take a look at Darlac’s Compact Snips – perfect for deadheading!
These tools have one blade and one cutting platform. As with snips, the blade will have a flat side and an angled side. The flat side slides across the cutting platform as you close the handles, cutting at the point of contact.
Because of the laws of physics (which we won’t bore you with) you will find that the deeper into the jaw you cut, the easier it is. So, save the tip of the blade for the finer snippy stuff, and take the bigger stuff as far in as you can get it. Don’t be tempted to cut through wire – it will lead to a broken blade. (Some pruners have a wire cutting notch, such as Darlac DP1030a and& DP1631) The bypass blade is ideal for this years growth on most perennials; it tends to be classed as a general-purpose pruner and is probably what you picture when you think of a secateur. A word of warning – bypass tools do not cope well with woodier stems. You may get away with cutting the odd denser stem here and there, but the pressure it puts on the blade (physics again!) causes it to move away from the cutting platform leaving you with “loose” or “floppy” pruners. If this happens you won’t get a good clean cut, no matter how sharp the blade, until the pruner has been (if possible) re-tensioned. If you know that you have a lot of woody plants to prune or are planning to cut back lots of old growth, consider an anvil pruner.
For an example of a bypass blade, take a look at Darlac’s Compact Pruner – a good all rounder, perfect for medium hands. The Compact Plus Pruner is a scaled up version for larger hands!
Similar to bypass tools, anvils have one blade and one cutting platform. Unlike bypass tools, on anvils the blade cuts down onto the cutting platform, which supports both sides of the stem being cut.
Some anvil blades have a flat side, more often they have a cutting edge on both sides. This won’t affect performance but will make a difference to your sharpening regime. Because the stem is supported on both sides of the blade, an anvil is ideal for woodier stems, harder woods like fruit trees, and old growth. There is a belief that you can’t cut soft stems with an anvil pruner because it will crush it. We believe that you can’t cut soft stems with a blunt pruner. Keep your blade sharp and it will cut not crush.
For an example of an anvil blade, take a look at Darlac’s Compact Anvil Pruner.
Handy Hints for Basic Tool Care
Always choose the right tool for the job.
Whatever you use, make sure that you don’t overwork the tool. You may be able to snip herbs with a very sharp anvil pruner, but that doesn’t mean that you can cut oak stems with a pair of snips. As the name suggests, snips are for snipping the small soft stuff. They don’t tend to put a cut capacity on the packaging for snips – if it’s big enough to measure its probably too big for a snip.
Bypass and Anvil pruners should show a maximum cut capacity. What doesn’t get put on packaging is a maximum density capacity That means that if you have a Bypass pruner with a 20mm capacity, it is not designed to cut a 10mm hard stem.
Clean your tool after use. Fresh sap is fairly easy to remove with the traditional oily rag, but we have found hand sanitizer gel to be really good for this. Because it is alcohol based it leaves no trace, and (bonus!) it will help prevent the spread of plant diseases around your garden. If you are dealing with older, ingrained dirt we would suggest letting a small amount of oil soak into it for a minute then rubbing with a rough cloth or scourer. If it’s really stubborn you may need wire wool.
Check moving parts to see if things need tightening. Nuts bolts and screws have a tendency to work loose over time, and it is so much easier to check and adjust them than it is to find them when they have dropped off “somewhere in the garden”; it is not a good idea to be using a tool with missing/loose parts as it can lead to damage occurring.
Oil areas where friction will happen. The key word here is OIL. It doesn’t particularly matter what kind; 3 in 1 is brilliant, bike maintenance oil, even vegetable oil from the kitchen if nothing else is available. Don’t use WD40, as this is a solvent. It will remove protective layers of oil.
Sharpen when needed. A blunt blade means you working harder to get poorer results. The pressure that you put in will always look for the easiest way out – a sharp blade is easy. (Nuts bolts and screws are an easier way out than a blunt blade; when you cut with a blunt blade things start loosening up and undoing themselves!)
I was about to say that I had taken the year off for 2020, but a tiny glimmer of light has been spotted in the doom and gloom of this years non-existent show schedule.
The South of England Agricultural Society at Ardingly Showground are hopeful that the Autumn Show and Game Fair (October 3rd & 4th) will be going ahead. We are waiting to hear how social distancing measures will affect the way that the event is structured; we all want to ensure that everybody attending is safe and are aware that this event will have a very different feel to it from the normal show experience.
With that in mind, we have booked our pitch; If the show goes ahead then we will be there, bringing you Darlac tools, Drawing Boards T-Shirts and our new additions for 2020 – growing solutions for small spaces from Blooming Walls and Green Wash.
Fingers firmly crossed, we look forward to getting out in the fresh air and catching up with you!