pruning

Shawna Coronado

3 Top Summer Garden Gloves Reviewed

Gloves Womanswork Work Gloves

Finally it is summer and with the coming of summer, we mark the beginning of barbecue celebration season and outdoor living all over the nation. This is the perfect time to get out and clean up that garden a bit before the big garden get-together. To help you with your summer pruning, gardening, and planting I have reviewed three awesome ladies gloves that I have used myself and put through the Shawna-marator testing process with vigor and passion.

As a full time gardener and garden writer, I’m a bit of an obsessed glove collector and definitely use them in my garden to protect my fingernails from breaking and skin infections. I have dozens from all different types of companies. This season I put three completely different gloves to the test.

Gloves Gold Leaf Royal Horticultural Society Dry Touch

Gold Leaf Dry Touch Gloves

Gold Leaf Dry Touch is a tough garden glove (photo below)  made from high quality leather. This glove is fully lined and resistant to water. With all the rain I have had in the garden lately, I have found these gloves great to get in to prune rose bushes and other thorny material even if it is wet outside. Thorns do not get through the tough leather and caring for the gloves involves handwashing them and letting them air dry. A good protective glove which is built to last for years, you can purchase the gloves online at Gardeners.com for $38.95. I highly recommend this glove if you want a tough glove for wet and/or thorny conditions.

Womanswork Paisley Garden Glove With Arm Saver

Definitely the most attractive glove of the bunch, Womanswork Paisley Garden Glove (top photo) is as comfortable as it is stylish. When working in the garden I frequently get “itchy arms” from scratchy plants. The Paisley Garden Glove with Arm Saver is exactly as it describes – a great arm saver that prevents itchy arm. I find these gloves perfect for cutting back perennials and digging mid-summer. They come in several different colors, are made of cotton with a touch of lycra, and have a sun protection factor of 50, making for light work on hot days. The little wrist buckle helps keep the glove snug without being too tight around your wrist. There’s even a nifty stretch pull-cord at the end of the glove so you can tighten it if you are concerned about bugs or plants creeping up your arm into the glove. You can purchase these gloves on the Womanswork.com website for $29.50. They come in several different colors and are machine washable so these gloves make an easy-to-clean reusable garden glove.

Gloves Rostaing  Rubber Coated

Rostaing Rosier Gloves

Rostaing Rosier Gloves (photo above) are supposed to be used for roses because they have great protection against rose thorns even though they are a cotton comfort-based glove. Rubber coating on the outside of the cotton glove means you do not have to have a heavy glove on a super-hot day in the garden. However, I found they are fantastic for every imaginable project under the sun where you want to protect your hands. I used them for painting my Adirondack chairs and loved the way the gloves allowed me to grip the paint brush. Pruning, planting, and lifting containers is easy work with these gloves. They are particularly good for digging in soil because absolutely no soil or sharp splinters get up under the nail to irritate the nail bed. Find these gloves on Amazon.com for $12.67. They work great and when you are done abusing them and want them to be fresh for next time, simply throw the gloves in the clothes washer and let them air dry.

Need a gardening glove for all your summer pre-barbecue party garden clean-up efforts? All three gloves listed above are fantastic solutions to protect your hands and keep them healthy in summer.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received glove products in this post at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Denny Schrock

my favorite fall clean up tool

My favorite tool for fall garden clean up is apparently no longer made by Fiskars. It’s a long-handled power lever swivel shears. They do make a long-handled swivel-head grass shears, but it doesn’t have the same leverage or cutting power as this tool. They also manufacture power lever hedge shears that make cuts just as easily as my favorite, but you have to bend down to ground level to cut off old stems with it.

I recently made short work of cutting back amsonia, miscanthus, catmint, ornamental oregano, and just about any other non-woody perennial that needed it by using the power lever swivel trimmer. It’s a good thing that Fiskar tools are well made. I’m hoping that this tool lasts a lifetime, because I may not be able to get a replacement.

This trimmer made quick work of cutting back thick amsonia stems this fall.

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Denny Schrock

peas please

Pea tendrils curling around a twig trellis

I planted my garden peas this week, along with beets, spinach, lettuce, onions, mesclun salad mixes, corn salad, and kohlrabi. I was out of town all last week, or I would have planted these cool-season veggies then. It’s important to get them into the ground early so they’ll mature before hot weather hits.

I grow only edible podded peas in my garden. I like the idea of less waste and less labor in shelling out peas. (I leave the shelling to commercial canners and freezers.) This year I’m growing Sugar Ann, a dwarf type that needs little staking and Sugar Daddy, a stringless variety. (Everyone could use a Sugar Daddy, right?) I also usually grow  Super Sugar Snap or Sugar Snap, the variety that started the snap pea craze when it was introduced back in 1979.

It will take a week to 10 days for the peas to germinate. That gives me a little time to prepare the trellis the taller types need. I like to use a twig trellis for the peas. This time of year I cut back to the ground my butterfly bushes, chaste tree, and beautyberry, which provide plenty of brushy twigs for the peas to climb. To make the trellis, I insert the base end of branches that are about 3 to 4 feet long 6 to 8 inches into the ground so they’ll stand firmly upright. The peas are planted in two rows spaced about 6 inches apart so the twigs are stuck between the two rows, and make a framework for pea plants from both rows to climb on.

The twig trellis holds up well for the entire season, and is easily removed when I pull the pea vines in midsummer. The brush gets recycled into mulch at the end of the year when it’s run through the chipper/shredder.

I’ll have to wait until June to reap the harvest from the peas, but I’m looking forward to the fresh taste of snap peas in salads and stir fries. I always freeze some for use the following winter, too.


Denny Schrock

whack ‘em back!

bloomingbuddlejaEarly spring is a great time to prune summer blooming shrubs. Butterfly bush often becomes lank and rangy unless pruned severely, and in Zone 5, it often suffers winter dieback. Solve both problems at once by whacking the entire shrub back to 6 inches above ground line. The photo below shows what a properly pruned butterfly bush will look like after pruning. Don’t worry. It will grow back and bloom beautifully by mid-summer. In fact, it will be more compact and tidy than an unpruned shrub.

Butterfly bush pruned back to ground level

Butterfly bush pruned back to ground level

You can treat most other summer or fall blooming shrubs the same way. They form flower buds on new growth, so you won’t be sacrificing any blooms. (However, DON’T prune early spring bloomers such as forsythia or lilac now. Wait until they finish flowering to cut them back.) Other examples of shrubs that take well to severe early spring pruning are pink flowered spireas (not the spring-blooming white forms), potentilla, hardy hibiscus, beautyberry, and crape myrtle (in Zones where they suffer winter dieback, and never develop into trees.)

Shrubs grown primarily for attractive stems, such as red-twig dogwood, or colorful foliage, such as purple smoke bush also respond well to severe pruning. Note that pruning the smoke bush will remove it’s smoky plumes, so don’t prune your smoke bush if you want the smoky effect that they provide. The severely pruned shrubs will regrow with renewed vigor and more brilliant color.

So pull out the pruning saw, and start whacking!


Denny Schrock

pruning with confidence

Remove branches by pruning just outside the swollen branch collar at the base of the branch, where it attaches to the main stem.

Remove branches by pruning just outside the swollen branch collar at the base of the branch, where it attaches to the main stem.

Late winter is a great time to catch up on pruning deciduous trees. With leaves off the tree, it’s easier to see the branching structure. And pruning now minimizes disease problems because pruning cuts will seal before most diseases become active. (There’s no need to apply pruning paint to the wound.)

I did all my tree pruning last weekend. Of course, my trees are only 6 years old, so it wasn’t much of a chore! However, just because your trees are young is no excuse to avoid pruning if they need it. In fact, it’s much better  to correct problems when the tree is young rather than to wait until it’s full grown, and pruning becomes a major operation.

Start by removing dead, damaged or crossing branches. Also prune out watersprouts (strongly upright growing shoots on side branches) and suckers (upright growing shoots from near the base of the tree). Correct structural problems evident in the branching pattern of the tree. These might be double leaders (2 branches of nearly equal size dominating as the main trunk) or branches with narrow crotch angles. Both of these conditions lead to weak branches that are likely to split later in the tree’s life.

This dead branch stub should have been removed long ago. Note the narrow crotch angle it forms with the branch to its left. This weak branch connection will eventually split apart.

This dead branch stub should have been removed long ago. Note the narrow crotch angle it forms with the branch to its left. This weak branch connection will eventually split apart.

If you have old overgrown trees in need of pruning, consider hiring a certified arborist rather than trying to tackle a job that’s too big for you. Don’t attempt to dangle from a ladder or climb a tree to prune without proper safety equipment. Leave that to trained professionals. The International Society of Arboriculture can tell you whether the arborist that you’re considering is certified or not. And whatever, you do, DON’T top your trees! Doing so weakens the tree and sets it up for failure. For more details about why to avoid topping trees, check the Plant Amnesty website.