‘Honestly, it’s life changing’ is a regular series where we talk about the weird and wonderful possessions we can’t imagine life without. Think of it as an ode to the mundane, bizarre and, sometimes, wholly unnecessary products in our lives.
Obviously it’s quite embarrassing when you develop deeply-held views on gardening gloves. When you are so passionately sure that you’ve found the ultimate pair that you go around sharing your opinion, uninvited, with strangers in garden centres (which you now love going to, btw). It’s in no way how I imagined my future life – not least because the gardening gloves I’m about to recommend are objectively ugly.
These yellow and black monstrosities are part leather, part stretchy stuff, with added velcro so they fit snugly. They are called Gold Leaf Soft Touch Gardening Gloves – apt, given both their high cost and high performance – and are described on the packet as being ‘Gloves for people who are serious about gardening’. And, as I think I’ve made clear, I am VERY serious about gardening.
So are the Royal Horticultural Society, who also recommend these superior gloves. You can feel the quality here: they have a leather palm and fingers which have remained intact and supple after two years of me getting them soaking then chucking them in the shed after wear, without a care for their wellbeing. (As other gardeners might know, a cheaper leather glove can pretty much set solid as it dries after a hard day’s work in the soil: when you come to wear it again, you often have no choice but to adopt your hand’s final position from its last outing just to get the blasted thing on.)
So the leather remains intact, isn’t too crispy, and, important this, stands up remarkably well to the many roses intent on spearing my poor hands as I attempt to prune or deadhead them. Even though I have only their best interests at heart – a second flush of flowers to fill the garden with scent and colour – the roses in my garden appear to be pretty much organising against me; sharpening their thorns in anticipation of my gardening duties. These gloves, however, keep me largely scratch free.
I bought the women’s gloves and they fit brilliantly. If, like me, you have relatively small hands and really quite short fingers (a combination as alluring as it sounds), then gardening gloves are often entirely the wrong shape. They flap around at the end of your fingers; a whole knuckle’s-worth of extra fabric limply looking on as you attempt to coax life out of reluctant seeds or sulking shrubs.
The Gold Leaf Gardening Gloves, however, fit like a dream. The velcro gives you the perfect size around the wrist, so you don’t end up with compost floating around inside your gloves, while the stretchy fabric moulds to the backs of your hands and fingers. It’s like they were made for you.
What’s more, you can actually feel what you’re doing. I don’t really mind having a bit of a rootle round in the soil with my fingers, or using the heel of my hand to give a good solid firm to the compost in a patio pot. I own gloves, a nail brush. Dirt doesn’t really bother me. But given the choice, I’d keep my gloves on and avoid scooping filth out from under my nails – and these are the only ones where I retain any proper touch sensation.
Given that these are no cheap pair of gloves – they are the only pair I’ve bought that cost over £20, and I hope they remain so – you’d hope I’d want to heap praise on them. But to be honest, if I’d had to pay an extra tenner for them, I’d probably stump it up quite happily. Taking into account their length of service, superior fit and thorn-repelling powers, these are pretty special gardening kit. It’s why I find myself going on about them to random strangers –and why once you’ve got a pair, I reckon you will too.