What the well dressed gardener should be wearing.
At last the age old thorny problem of what clothes to wear when gardening has been solved by two lady gardening whizzes. Genus Performance Gardenwear (www.genus.gs) was established just over a year ago by Sue O’Neil, a sexagenarian entrepreneur. It specialises in lightweight shower-resistant gardening trousers for men and women with the added bonus of padded knees, sleek wind proof gilets and long sleeve tops. The designs are very contemporary in style and have a sort of hip chic quality. Well, I am delighted to say that the trousers are simply BRILLIANT, not only are they extremely comfortable to wear but they are eminently practical and moreover highly durable. BRAVO Sue O’Neil.
‘We are one of the few suppliers of practical garden clothes in the world’ says Sue. To confirm this bold claim she has had orders from all over Europe, America and even Australia since Genus’s inception. So throw out those Track Suit bottoms or fraying jeans and invest in a pair of Genus trousers.
Sue decided to start Genus after moving to the country and creating a garden from scratch. ‘I could find the tools but not the clothes. The trousers I used for gardening ended up with holes in the knees, and they were too hot, or too cold, or just didn’t keep my dry.’
More in the traditional ‘Land Girl’ genre The Norfolk Carrier Company (www.carriercompany.co.uk) has an extensive range of gardening clothes reminiscent of the apparel worn by the eminent gardeners immortalised in ‘Garden People: Valerie Finnis and the Golden Age of Gardening’ by Ursula Buchan with Anna Pavord, published by (www.thamesandhudson.com). Described as ‘essential rural workwear’ the clothes have a classic timeless appeal. I rather hanker after a pair of the dungarees. The beautifully designed website includes a gallery of photographs of a host of healthy happy looking people dressed in Norfolk Carrier clothes engaged in a range of activities shot against beguiling Norfolk landscapes.
Tina originally began by making oilskin carriers ‘hence the name’ when she was working as a gardener in London. As any seasoned gardener knows a carrier is an essential item of equipment, particularly so at this time of year transporting cut down herbaceous borders to the compost heap.
‘I gradually moved into clothes. As the needs of my family change I add new items’. For instance when Tina’s mother could no longer put her smock over her head, Tina came up with the Norfolk jacket. ‘I now have grandchildren so am making little aprons for them’. Everything is beautifully made by local ladies, working from home enabling them to work around the needs of their own families whilst earning a living. NB The office is open from 9.30am-3.30pm.
So much for clothes, what about other practical tips you must be asking? I asked my followers on Twitter, the essential tool of any 21st gardener – & got the following results:
Sue Wynn-Jones of that excellent nursery Crug Farm Plants (www.crug-farm.co.uk) recommended Arm Covers. Happily her tweet was spotted by Jake Hobson of (www.niwaki.com) who happens to sell them Jake Hobson, who originally studied sculpture at the Slade School of Art is well known for his highly original approach to topiary. He describes his style as ‘organic topiary’ combining traditional European topiary with Japanese cloud pruning. His website has a very enticing range of Japanese garden tools on offer with delicious names such as ‘Silky Longboy’ or ‘Silky Katanaboy’ -‘what a whopper’ a saw with a 19″ blade extending out to a total length of 46″.
A gardening friend, Posy Gentles suggested making your own gardening clothes with traditional oiled linen or British oilskin available in dark khaki or golden yellow or antiqued from (http://merchantandmills.com). Set up in 2010 it was formed to ‘elevate sewing to its proper place in the creative world’. Despite its rather fogeyish website it is obviously highly successful as its extensive range of linens, tweed, flannel and boiled wool to mention just a few of the fabrics on offer are stocked all over the world. Sewing patterns are also available as well as a sewing kit ‘also known as a Tailor’s Roll or Hussuff made in British oilskin.
So now you know what to wear in the garden.