Tag Archives: Product review

Garden Hand Tools Product Review Part 3 Hand shrub rake

As promised in my previous post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Shrub Rake.

I have only one tool of this type from Burgon & Ball.

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The product is endorsed by the RHS and measures Max width 13cm, overall length 40cm with an RRP of £9.95.

Burgon & Ball recommend the product is used to remove the leaves and debris from places a big rake can’t get, so snails don’t have a place to hide.

This is the only product of this type and size I have in my garden tool collection and so far I have found it very handy. Of course I have full size larger rakes, but this is perfect for working on flower beds in any smaller areas of the garden. I have so far used it to clean the soil of my new flower beds, for instance I have recently planted a bed of shrub roses and Allium and this is perfect for getting in between the plants without damaging them and removing any unwanted debris and leaves. I have similarly just planted my dahlias and again it is perfect for getting under the foliage of the dahlias and keeping the flower beds clear. In the sloping sandy area of my garden, it is full of small stones and debris which constantly becomes unearthed after raining, again I have found this hand rake useful for tidying these areas which are in progress.

This is one of two items I have bought from Burgon and Ball as I have also brought the Widger hand tool from them, which I will be reviewing in a later post.

The product is well made and it looks like this company has a range of very interesting and innovative gardening tools, which I’m always on the lookout for, so I will be browsing their website for more products very soon!

The only tiny downside which is not a reflection on the product itself, is it doesn’t easily fit in my gardening tool box! However as soon as I have my new shed I will probably ditch the tool box and hang the tools up individually 😀

 Next time I will be reviewing the following:

4. Part 4 Hand dibber & Widget

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Hand Tools Product Review Part 2 Hand Patio weeder/ scrapers

As promised in my previous post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Patio Scrapers and weeders

Since moving into my house less than a year ago I have bought 2 Hand Scrapers or weeders as follows:

  1. Wolf Garten Scraper (Jul 2015) £6.82
  2. Moulton Mill Stainless Steel Weed Knife (Sep 2015) £7.99

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These Hand Scrapers cost less than £10. These tools are marketed for removing weeds and moss from between pavings. I have used both for this purpose plus I also regular use both for other random tough weeding tasks around the garden.

 

  • Wolf Garten Scraper (Jul 2015) £6.82

315922_Scraper

I found these scraper/weeder tools very useful, not just for cleaning patio stones, but also for other jobs around the garden, such as trying to dig out the soil around densely clumped bramble roots! This Wolf Garten tool was invaluable and the first time I had ever used a tool of this type, but as you can see from the photos, in less than one year the tool is very blunt and not very effective, and as I have previously said, I am not a fan of the design of the Wolf Garten hand tools ridged end which ends up full of soil, plus the tools seem to tarnish. However I do like the bright red/yellow design of their tools which make them easier to find 😀

 

  • Moulton Mill Stainless Steel Weed Knife (Sep 2015) £7.99

moulton-mill-weed-knife_l.jpg

Once The Wolf Garten Scraper started to become blunt after a month or two I bought a new Scraper from my local garden centre – this time from Woulton Mill. This tool was much sharper, I think I may have even nicked my finger, so do be careful when using this tool. However I loved this tool and wouldn’t be without it. I preferred it to the Wolf Garten scraper as its a simpler design so easier to keep clean and its much more sharper and effective. However even this tool has become blunt in less than a year – but that probably has a lot to do with my extreme garden which WAS full of brambles, pebbles, sand, concrete..after nearly a year or extreme gardening I feel I am finally taming the garden!

So in summary I would recommend a Patio weeder scraper, and remember you don’t have to confine their use to just their intended use, as they have been invaluable for a whole host of other gardening jobs including digging up the dreaded brambles! I am due for a new sharper model so will be purchasing another new model soon, so watch out for new reviews.

See my previous review on Hand Garden Hoe’s here:

https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/garden-hand-tools-product-review-part-1-hand-hoes/

Next time I will be reviewing the following:

3. Part 3 Hand shrub rake

4. Part 4 Hand dibber & Widget

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels

6. Part 6: Hand Secateurs and hand Cutting tools

Garden Hand Tools product review Part 1: Hand Hoe’s

As promised in my last post: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/my-gardening-hand-tools/ here I am going to review the garden hand Hoe’s.

Since moving into my house less than a year ago I have bought 3 Hand Hoe’s as follows:

  1. Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator (May 2015)
  2. Wolf Garten Double Hoe (Jul 2015)
  3. Bahco Garden Hoe (Sep 2015)

Part 1c

All of these Hoes/cultivators cost less than £10. These all have a sharp edge which is great for cutting through tough soil which hasn’t been touched for years. For instance if your turning soil up in a confined area near a tree or fence, where you are unable to use a large garden folk or spade, then these little hand Hoe’s are invaluable.

  1. Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator (May 2015)

Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator

The Faithfull Faichhoe Cultivator was the first item of this type I purchased and I loved using this tool as it made breaking up the hard soil so much easier than trying to use a hand trowel. However, I think the hard stone ridden soil was too much for the Faithfull tool and it subsequently bent and distorted and I binned it after a few months as it was no longer very effective. Sorry I never took a picture before binning it!

2. Wolf Garten Double Hoe (Jul 2015)

315921_WolfGarten Double Hoe

The Wolf Garten Double Hoe was the second tool of this type I purchased.Again it performed excellent when I first purchased the tool, but again after a few months use it has bent out of shape, rusted and the sharp edge is pretty blunt and warped after hitting one too many stones and bramble roots. I think this tool would perform great on previously prepared garden beds, but they have struggled to withstand the test of time on my old neglected garden. They have aided me immensely in digging up Bramble roots though and would recommend these types of tools to other gardeners or allotment gardeners …however I don’t think the wolf garten is the strongest for tough plots. One big dislike is the ridged end of the hand…as a gardener I think this is a bad design as soil gets wedged into the handle grooves making it difficult to keep it clean.

3. Bahco Garden Hoe (Sep 2015)

Bahco Garden Hoe

The third and last tool of this type I bought was the Bahco, this is my first and only tool purchased from this French company. I had never heard of the company, but bought the tool as it looked tough and I thought it might perform better than the previous 2 Hoe’s. When it arrived my Husband told me Bahco was a famous power-tool manufacturer, so that was reassuring and I had high hopes for this tool. Unlike the previous 2 tools I have reviewed, this was only a single hoe, however the steel/metal does feel thicker and sturdier and less likely to bend.So far the tool has performed well. The edge isn’t has sharp as it was, again it has been used on my tough garden. however it has shown no signs of bending or rusting so I am pleased with this product and would buy other Bahco products again. I have seen some other interesting Hoe designs they do and would be interested in trying these out.

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Look out for my next review on hand tools – coming soon!

My gardening hand tools

I bought my new house with garden last May/June 2015 and bought a huge selection of tools from a range of famous gardening brands. I did some research and bought the larger items mainly from Bulldog and Chillington.  However I couldn’t really see a big difference between the hand tools so bought these from a range of companies. 1 year on I have binned a number of items which have been damaged or broke, accidentally put some in the green bin and then these are what I have left below, so I thought I would review the performance of these tools over the last year since I bought the house and garden.

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Hand tools

I should state that the garden hadn’t been touched for 20 years and different parts of the garden have different soil types, some parts are sandy, some are hard clay and others are normal. The area had previously been used to mine sand, so obviously the garden is very sandy and has a ridiculous number or pebbles everywhere, so everytime I dig I always hit a pebble or two! The garden also contained a lot of buried concrete and rubble! An annoying amount. In addition the garden was completely overtaken by brambles, I must of progressively dug up over 200 brambles root balls and filled a skip and made endless trips to the tip….so as you can imagine my hand tools have been put through a lot! They have either hit pebbles, concrete or thick tough bramble root balls! Hence some of the tools haven’t withstood the test of time. I have dug up bin fulls of pebbles and boulders that I have now decided to make a dry river in order to use them and make a feature out of them 😀

Over the next few weeks I will be doing an in depth reviews of the different gardening tools as follows, so watch this space:

1. Part 1 Hand Garden Hoes

2. Part 2 Hand Patio weeder/ scrapers

3. Part 3 Hand shrub rake

4. Part 4 Hand dibber & Widget

5.Part 5 Hand Fork and hand Trowels

6. Part 6: Hand Secateurs and hand Cutting tools

 

 

Starting dahlia tubers in Northern UK

I’ve just purchased 4 new dahlia tubers and wanted to start them off early (Bergers Record, Friquloet, Bora-Bora and Labyrinth). The general guidance is that dahlias shouldn’t be grown outdoors until all risk of frost has passed and/or the nighttime temperature doesn’t drop below 10’C. In the North of the UK, that’s usually towards the end of May or beginning of June.

In previous years I have started tubers off in doors in pots. However last year I moved to a new house and don’t really have anywhere to put them indoors, especially as my tuber collection has grown too large to start them all off in the house. So I bought a very small Lean-to greenhouse/ coldframe W76 x D46 x H110cm.

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So I have decided to experiment this year by planting the tubers in small pots with potting compost and perlite lightly watered and I have placed these in the greenhouse in early April….fingers crossed they will do ok outdoors as I have no idea what temperature the Greenhouse is during the day and night. I should probably insulate it with bubble wrap. let me know if you have any tips or advice.

I plan to leave the tubers in these small pots for as long as possible just to give the tubers enough time to sprout and produce shoots..then I will plant these out into a patch of garden I have already prepared for them.

 

New Dahlia cuttings ordered – Feb 2015

OK so I’m bored, away from home and I’ve run out of things to Google. I’m not a big TV fan and wishing winter would pass and spring would come. So what else is there to do other than be a complete and utter garden nerd/geek and Google pretty dahlias to buy. I promised myself (and possibly my husband) that I wouldn’t buy any more as our tiny garden yard doesn’t have the capacity for any additional plants. But then I was bored plus we might be moving house this year to a property with a big garden and thought why not, so chose another 7! My thinking was that lasts years cuttings grew really slowly so they shouldn’t take up much room and hopefully we will have moved into our dream home by summer 🙂

I also said I wouldn’t buy any more cuttings as I was so disappointed with them last year. However after searching the Internet for dahlia tubers I concluded no one stocked a good range here in the UK so I gave in and bought from The National  Dahlia Collection again as they have over 1500 varieties in stock. Fingers crossed they do better this year 😉

Strawberry Ice Dinner Plate Dahlia

Strawberry Ice is a huge dinner plate dahlia and probably the prettiest dahlia I grew this year. I bought it for half price in a sale in May and didn’t realise it was a dinner plate dahlia and would grow so large, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have chosen it as I have a small garden. However I’m glad I did, as it’s simply stunning, so definitely a good purchase 🙂

 

PART 4: Final Verdict on Dahlia Cuttings 6 months later – ‘National Dahlia Collection’

So the Dahlia season is at its end up here in the North of the UK, with the first frost anticipated to be mid-October. It’s been a mild summer, so I’m not actually sure of when the actual date will be. I’ve read that you should leave your dahlias in the ground and wait for the first frost to blacken the foliage before digging up, as this prompts the dahlia tubers to get ready for the following year. I haven’t seen any blackened foliage yet, so I need to wait a little longer. Most of my dahlias have stopped flowering, apart from the odd cutting which has finally produced its first flower after waiting over 6 months! So here’s my update.

I ordered 7 cuttings from the National Dahlia Collection which arrived 28th Apr 2014, and have reported on their progress over the last 6 months:
Part 1: https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/part-1-7-dahlia-cuttings-from-national-dahlia-collection/

Overall, I’ve found growing dahlia cuttings tough and disappointing. 2/7 cuttings did well but the other 5 were small, flimsy and struggled to produce flowers. Most also seemed to have powdery mildrew or some other problem. I definitely prefer growing tubers which seem to produce more flowers and grow much stronger. So here is a run down of the 7 cuttings…

1. Alvas Doris (Small cactus)

Dahlia Alvas Doris (Small Cactus) 2603

This never did grow more than 1ft high, and after 6 months never produced a flower. I will be intrigued to dig this up and see if it produced a tuber and if it did, I will be even more intrigued to see if it grows next year?

2. Amberley Joan (Small Decorative)

Dahlia Amberley Joan (Small Decorative) 1016

Amberley Joan produced a flower very late (End August) albeit the wrong colour! It should have produced a lovely pink flower but instead produced a white flower – so very disappointing.

Amberley Joan 22 Aug 14c Amberley Joan 22 Aug 14e

3. Amorangi Joy (Small Cactus)

Dahlia Amorangi Joy (Small Cactus) 2725

Amorangi Joy never did grow more than 1ft high, and after 6 months never produced a flower. I will be intrigued to dig this up and see if it produced a tuber and if it did, I will be even more intrigued to see if it grows next year?

4. Bergers Record (Medium Semi-Cactus)

Dahlia bergers-record (Medium Semi-Cactus) 3069

Bergers Record grew beautifully and produced lots of lovely vivid flowers, this was one of the 2 cuttings which did well. As more flowers grow over the summer, the flowers change from a vibrant red, to an orange colour, more in keeping with the advertised website photo above.

5. Clair Obscur (Small Cactus)

Dahlia Clair Obscur (Small cactus) 2578

Clair Obscur produced 2 flowers in total, 1 in Septemeber and 1 in October. They are gorgeous striking flowers – I just wished it had produced more. Some of my dahlias from tubers have produced 50-100 flowers. This cutting has produced 2 flowers in 6 months!

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6. Firebrand (Small Cactus)

Dahlia firebrand (Small Cactus) 2630

Firebrand grew beautifully and produced lots of lovely vivid flowers, this was one of the 2 cuttings which did well. Interestingly as new flowers are produced over the time, the colour of the flowers does change from a bright red to a yellow-red colour.

7. Mini Red (Miniature Cactus)

Dahlia_Mini Red (Miniture Cactus) 2808

Mini Red finally produced a flower in October! It took 6 months to produce a 1 small flower! Lets see how it does next year – providing it has produced tubers to carry it on next year.

So overall:

2 dahlias didn’t produce any flowers

1 dahlia produced a flower of the wrong colour and shape

2 dahlias produced only 1 or 2 flowers

2 dahlias grew well

So overall I conclude that I don’t like dahlia cuttings – or certainly not the ones I purchased. I would rather buy dahlia tubers in future which seem to do better depending on where you purchase them from. I had a great experience with tubers bought from Wilkinsons and private nurseries, yet Taylors Bulbs dahlias were awful and very poor quality producing the wrong colour and variety of dahlias.

Can’t wait to replant my dahlias next year 🙂

Part 3 Progress UPDATE “GARDEN4LESS” Dahlia Tubers (NATALIE G, LINDA’S BABY, CHOCOLATE & CANDY)

In April I ordered 3 dahlia tubers from garden4less. (http://www.garden4less.co.uk) and reviewed them:

  1. Natalie G (Ball)
  2. Linda’s baby (Ball)
  3. Chocolate & Candy (Decorative)

See original post Part 1 here:

https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/product-review-garden4less-3-dahlia-tubers-natalie-g-lindas-baby-chocolate-candy/

The tubers were poor quality, but once they started growing I thought the foilage looked healthy and assumed the dahlias would do well.

However 2/3 produced the wrong type and colour of Dahlia!
I wrote to Taylors and their customer service is non-existent. Even though Taylors have the Queens Warrant, their quality control is poor and they have done nothing to rectify the fact I have been sent the wrong type of dahlia – probably against trading standards.

  1. Natalie G (Ball)

This is the only tuber from the 3 that produced the correct dahlia.

Natalie G 0

2. Linda’s baby (Ball)

I was really looking forward to growing baby pink ball flowers, and was somewhat disappointed when some minuscule tiny purple flowers appeared for both tubers. I think it might be Dahlia Rocco?

Linda's Baby Wrong Tuber

3. Chocolate & Candy (Decorative)

Only 1 out the 2 chocolate & Candy tubers grew, and the one that did grow produced only 1 flower in late September which was the wrong colour and variety. It produced a stunning flower, though I don’t know what variety it is? So if you know please leave a comment. Taylor’s bulb didn’t respond to my email about this.

Choc & Candy wrong tuber

Overall, I did eventually get some flowers from these Taylor’s dahlia tubers, however I think its shocking that 2/3 were labelled with the wrong colour and variety and Taylor’s QA/QC and customer service is non existent.

Dahlia’s Wrong Colour & Type?

I wonder how many of you have been sent Dahlia’s the wrong colour and type? Or how many people have experienced this with other types of flowers?

I was shocked this summer, out of 13 new dahlias purchased this summer (6 tubers & 7 cuttings), at least 4 of them were the wrong colour! That is a phenomenal error. Three varieties still haven’t produced a flower yet so the result could be much worse.

I think the Quality Control (QC) and Assurance (QA) process is crazily poor, imagine buying something from a shop, getting it home and it not matching the description or colour? Yet the suppliers think this is acceptable. Taylors bulbs even holds the Royal Warrant crest, yet its QC is poor and its customer service dissapointing. See previous post where I wrote to them regarding being sent the wrong tubers:

https://stunningdahlias.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/taylors-bulbs-wrong-dahlia-tubers/

Here are pics of dahlias I should of been sent (picture on left) versus the actual flower produced (picture on right).

Amberley Joan cutting – should have produced a pink flower – but produced a white flower

Amberley Joan Colour

Bergers Record Cutting – shows Orange flower, but it is more red (minor difference)

Bergers Record colour

Linda’s Baby Tuber – should have produced baby pink flower, instead produced minuscule purple flowers. Linda's Baby Wrong Tuber

Chocolate & Candy Tuber – Should have produce peach flowers, instead produced purple cactus style dahlias.Choc & Candy wrong tuber

Has anyone else had this problem? Is this more common than we imagined?