There are a lot more new products coming to the market this year than in 2013, which may be a sign of more confidence in our economy. I have selected 4 products which excite me
One of the greatest challenges a parent can face is trying to persuade children that vegetables are a good thing to eat. Subterfuge like disguising a sprout as a chocolate egg will work to a point but how about giving them a stake in their food by having them grow it.
Children have always been keen gardeners from an early age. Whether it is growing a giant sunflower, mustard and cress or even picking daisies from the lawn, there is always a lot to discover in the garden. However, perhaps we don’t take this enthusiasm seriously enough and give them a set of plastic toy garden tools to play with. Things are changing though with the possibility of a change in the national corriculum to include horticulture; Spear and Jackson, one of the country’s leading garden tool manufacturer has introduced a set of perfectly proportioned stainless steel tools for 2014.
The Kew Kids range is a leap forward, with tools manufactured to the same high standards as those made for grown-ups. These are a tremendous idea; not only can they keep the kids occupied, but they can contribute to the housekeeping bill by growing all your vegetables!
The range consists of a spade, fork, edging tool, hand trowel and fork, rake, dutch hoe and a flexi-rake. I have suggested they add a whip to the range to keep the little mites at it, but Spear and Jackson are not that keen.
More details: www.spear-and-jackson.com
As a designer I am always looking for plants which have a long flowering season and nothing can beat some of the modern shrub roses. This rose, new for 2014, will definitely be added to my list of preferences. David Austin Roses say it is the best rose they have introduced to date and I love it. The flowers are of the classic old rose formation, starting as prettily cupped buds, gradually opening to shallowly cupped rosettes, three and a half inches across. The colour is a soft shade of pink and the fragrance is strong and pleasant. It grows to around 4 feet in height and the flowers repeat throughout the summer. It is also very disease resistant.
I would grow it with foxgloves, delphiniums, astrantia, small irises, Alchemilla mollis and bergenias.
A note about rose maintenance; roses have an unfair reputation for being high maintenance. That is perhaps true of Hybrid-T roses but not these shrubs,which would appreciate a little rose fertiliser in spring and regular dead-heading will extend the flowering season but that is all. They do not need pruning although you should remove the three Ds – namely Dead, Diseased and Dying wood in March. Otherwise just the occasional trim if it gets a bit bigger than you expect.
More details: www.davidaustinroses.com or watch out for its launch at Chelsea at the end of May.
Chimeneas have been with us for a while now and are a great way to warm up a patio area on a cool evening. However, apart from cooking jacket potatoes in the ashes or marshmallows over the fire on a stick, they have little use. Until now. The Tia-Chim-Stove is a modified chimenea which will allow you to cook on it at the same time as keeping everyone warm. It has the advantage over a barbecue in that fat cannot drip onto the fire creating smoke. Even if it did it wouldn’t matter as the smoke is carried away by the chimney.
The cast iron cooking plate is more versatile than the grill on a traditional barbecue and enables more things to be cooked, including the boiling of a kettle. I think it would be great for cooking hot chestnuts. If the plate is removed a stir fry can be cooked in a wok over the open fire. Replace the wood with charcoal and the grill fittings allow the fire box to be used as a traditional barbecue.
More details can be found at www.gardeco.co.uk
Occasionally something comes along which is truly new and innovative. This curious substance, called sugru, definitely comes under that heading. At first it looks and feels like play dough and can be moulded into shapes in the same way. However, leave it to cure over night and it forms a strong rubbery material which has many uses. Firstly, it is adhesive, waterproof and its flexibility makes it ideal for repairing wellies, trainers, boats, hosepipes or even a hole in your bucket.
It contains a form of silicon so it can withstand a high temperature of +1800c and a low of -500c. It also doesn’t conduct heat or electricity. All this means that if you have a pan which conducts heat to the handle , you can put Sugru on the handle to protect your hands. You can use it as an insulator, perhaps on some exposed wires where insulating tape is not good enough or a damaged lightswitch.
Its rubbery form makes a good cushion protection so it could be moulded onto the edges of a phone or a camera to give bounceability should an accident occur. As it is adhesive and can be moulded to any shape, it could be used to mould a tool handle to the shape of your hand reducing the danger of blisters form overwork.
I intend to put some on my secateurs and try it on my squash racket to protect my thumb which always blisters and often loses me the match!
Finally, the bright colours make it perfect for anything in the nursery or brightening up a child’s bedroom.
For more information and other uses for this versatile product go to the website – sugru.com
Graham A.Pavey is a garden designer and horticultural consultant. Trained at the English Gardening School at Chelsea 25 years ago, he has designed more than 1000 gardens. For more information : www.grahamapavey.co.uk or telephone 07950 923051.