Posted: 26/04/2013 at 22:44
I have a Fiskars Swoe - brilliant, it's strong and done some tough work. I have pruners from Wilkinson which outlasted a pair of Wilkinson Sword with a 10 year guarantee (which I'd claim on but lost receipt); a Spear & Jackson pruning saw, sharp as hell but fell apart whereas the one I bought from Wilkinsons is still going; Wolf anvil secateurs, very comfy, strong, reliable, sharp.
I also bought an excellent pair of loppers from Lidl and they're still going strong, despite some use that really needed a larger ratchet pair, and I garden 4-5 days a week on various sites with a lot of cutting back.
If you go the Wolf-garten route you're locked into their tool heads, which is fine if you're gardening a regular patch, with no changing situations, and you're an organised gardener so that swapping heads doesn't leave you wondering if a head is lost in the pile of weeds! If you wanted a Swoe there isn't a head like that; a wider soil rake with more tines; and other more individual needs. Also, with more parts to break/go wrong if it's in heavy regular use I'd be a little hesitant. I think they're very well made, expensive, and whilst it's quite convenient to have only a few handles, I just prefer to not have to swap heads - I'd lose them!
Many of the tools also I don't think are necessary - if you look at a good range such as Joseph Bentley or Spear & Jackson (normally strong and reliable) they don't provide anywhere such a wide range but what they do is reliable and guaranteed. There's a limited number of tools one needs in regular use: spade(s), forks, bypass and anvil secateurs, hand-fork/trowel - good quality essential or they'll bend, dibber, hoe (I love my swoe - it glides through the soil and weeds, doesn't cut into roots if they're accidentally knocked, is light with a long handle for reaching into the depths of a bed, and it just laughs at stones!) .
One other thing to consider is the material - wooden handles have the major advantage of being able to be repaired/replaced, but need maintenance, whereas metal/plastic are more susceptible to damage and may be irreparable. Depends on your spend budget (one of my spades is a £10, and it's excellent but I don't stress it too much just in case!), whether you want tools for life or for maybe 1-10 years and then replace them (treating them as consumables really - not good for landfill). On the other hand I've bent a £20 fork, thought it was better than it was!
Even if you're not yawning by now, I am!