Gardening gloves

by James Alexander-Sinclair

I'm pondering the great 'glove question'. My reflections are prompted by having such cold fingers that I've had to dig out my fingerless Scrooge gloves...

Gardening gloves on a radiatorMy office door has just been painted. Big mistake. Not because the colour displeases or because I have anything against painters. No, it's because I've had to sit here with the door open all day and it's been darn cold - probably the first cold day of the year so far. Typical that it should be today when I've been at my desk for hours - yesterday I was wandering around the beautiful Cotswolds in glowing sunshine.

I tell you this not just to get your sympathy, but also because I'm pondering the great 'glove question'. My reflections are prompted by having such cold fingers that I've had to dig out my fingerless Scrooge gloves in order to make typing easier.

On one side of the glove debate is the very sensible Rachel de Thame argument that if doing heavy duty gardening, it's sensible to wear a pair of gloves. On the other side is the rather macho attitude that real gardeners shouldn't wear gloves because they need to feel what they're doing. I have sympathy with both viewpoints. When ferreting about on a summers day it's wonderful to feel the soil running through your fingers. But when it's freezing cold only the most deranged gardeners would lay into a berberis without some protection - a bit like those football fans (always the fattest and least attractive specimens) who insist on standing shirtless on the terraces in February.

I have a number of pairs of gloves for garden use, ranging from assorted builder's merchant standards to a terribly luxurious thermal-lined pair made of soft leather. Sadly, I don't have manicures or baby-soft palms that require protection, but I do need gloves that aren't easily pierced by rose thorns.

The very best pair I've ever owned was given to me by my brother, who found them in a truckstop somewhere near Fruitland, Idaho. They were the colour of George Hamilton's suntan and made from tough suede. Sadly, I only have one left, as the right hand glove accidentally ended up in the compost heap and, by the time I found it after about a year's mouldering, a mouse had removed most of one finger as nesting material.

It may be time to go through my collection, chuck out the ones that are full of holes or have lost their partners, and maybe mosey on down to the garden centre to search again for the perfect glove.

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Gardeners' World Web User 07/10/2008 at 19:36

I wear gloves while gardening depending on what I'm doing, for two main reasons: My wee girl has a habit of interrupting me regularly asking for a drink or help with something, and it's easier and quicker to slip off a muddy glove rather than wash my hands every ten minutes. Also, as I suffer from hayfever and always having to stop to sneeze or blow my nose, a clean hand underneath the glove means I don't get mud smudges all over my nose. I did get a funny look one time the postie turned up at the door with a parcel.

Keeping my hands warm - if my hands (or feet) are cold then my whole body feels cold and I'm more likely to give up and go indoors sooner. I buy the cheap packs of gloves cos I go through them quite quickly, and they can have a spin in the washing machine without any bother.

Gardeners' World Web User 07/10/2008 at 21:13

I garden for my living and wear gloves all the time. I find the Showa range very acceptable, cheap, adequate finger movement for picking out weeds, and washable. I used to use the 'green' but now find the 'black' more hard wearing. They also do a 'blue' thermal glove.

Yes, Berberis will puncture if you grab the stem, compared with leather, but leather of any substance is too thick to work comfortably.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/10/2008 at 10:22

A horribly non pc thought, but I have often wondered if there is a charity for one-handed gardeners that I could donate my vast collection of single gloves to...

Gardeners' World Web User 08/10/2008 at 17:52

I get fed up with this view that you are not a real gardener if you wear gloves. When I am not gardening I like my hands and fingernails to look nice so to help this I wear a variety of different gloves depending on the job I'm doing. If I'm weeding I wear a fairly fine pair (can't remember the make), when the soil is wet and a bit muddy then a stronger pair with waterproof palms and if I'm pruning something like berberis then a good strong pair.I say we should dispel this myth and accept that some gardeners care about their hands as well as their plants.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/10/2008 at 18:19

My best gloves are from Texas! But they are Carhartt, which I would hope would be replaceable in Europe. VERY VERY tough though.

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