Some time ago, at a press event somewhere, I picked up one of those bags of gardening-related products you get when people who sell things want you to write about what they’re selling.
Now, normally I treat this with great scepticism as it is sometimes laughably un-targeted: I have little use for chemicals to treat rose blackspot when I’m a (mostly) organic fruit and veg specialist.
However, in this particular bag was a pair of bright yellow and black gardening gloves.
Now I am something of a connoisseur of gardening gloves, due to the fact that I am, with a piquant irony, allergic to soil, so if I garden without gloves my hands erupt into something not unlike the surface of Mars. Apart from fiddly jobs, like potting on seedlings, I always have a pair of gloves on.
This has made me very picky. Gloves have to be thin: unless I’m dealing with brambles, I want to feel what I’m doing. Yet they also have to be tear-proof and tough.
They have to be waterproof – nothing worse than gardening with hands wrapped in soggy canvas – and made to last: I wear them for anything from half an hour (on a bad day) to six or seven hours (heaven) every single day.
It’s a lot to ask. As a result, I have been through a lot of brands in my time.
A year or two ago I’d run out – again – and while I was hunting for an old pair that might still be serviceable, and failing to find one, I stumbled across my freebie pair.
At first I wasn’t convinced. They had a fiddly bit of velcro across the wrist which got muddy almost immediately and failed to stick, so started flapping about irritatingly (I cut them off). But as I wore them over, and over again, and they still looked (nearly) as good as when they started, I was gradually but completely won over.
Waterproof to heroic proportions, they’re as thin as a second skin. I can do anything in them; they even keep out a commendable proportion of thorns (though I still don gauntlets – over the top – for the hated brambles).
And best of all: they last. Boy, do they last. I wore my gloves – and wore them, and wore them – for over a year before they started to show signs of wear and tear. I had never had a pair that lasted that long. Admittedly, once they did start going, they went very rapidly; huge holes in the fingers within a day or two. But that’s fine; that’s more than fine. That’s admirable endurance.
I went to buy a new pair, but there was no label sewn into the gloves, and I’d long since lost the publicity blurb. Note to manufacturers: there is such a thing as too discreet. My newly-found perfect gloves were lost again.
In one of those serendipitous moments, I walked round the corner in the Garden Press Event last month slap-bang into a rack of bright yellow and black gloves. The mourning was over: I’d found my perfect gloves once again.
They turned out to be Weedmaster Plus, by Town & Country. It’s not often I harangue a PR lady for a pair of the product they’re trying to sell – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever done it before – but on this occasion I hope she was pleasantly surprised by my refusal to go anywhere without at least one pair safely stowed in my bag. The relief of having them back again is wonderful.
I’m told the waterproofness comes from a nitrile coating on the palm and fingers – yeah, right, means nothing to me. All I know is they don’t go soggy. There is a version without the fiddly velcro strap – which was the version they were trying to sell at the show – but they also happen to be the result of some technical development which means you can produce a pattern on the waterproof nitrile bit. Result: I’m sure they’re lovely to garden in, but you wouldn’t want anyone to actually see you doing it.
My yellow-and-black Weedmasters are now my glove of choice, and now I’ve found them I won’t be letting them go again. Just don’t let them take them off the market for some ‘new, improved’ version: you can’t improve on something this good, and I shall be inconsolable.