It is inevitable you will need gloves that give you a good sense of finer feeling for weeding or planting out seedlings. Equally vital is added protection of heavier gloves, for beasties such as spiders and stinging ants, or handling plants with poisonous sap, such as euphorbias or prickly cacti or roses as safely as possible. Gardening gloves also help protect the hands from damaging ultra violet rays, which can lead to skin cancer, an occupational hazard for many gardeners, who spend long hours working outdoors.
I always have gloves available for friends who wish to help me with gardening tasks as well and keep a pair in the car, ready for gardening sojourns!
My favourite gloves are those with rubber fingers and palm, but with breathable fabric on the outer side. These are fantastic for the lighter side of gardening work. They maintain sensitive feeling, whilst still giving added protection to the hands. Some of these gloves have light coverings of rubber, or even superior nitrile, whilst others, are way heavier and denser. I find both sorts have their place, according to the conditions and context of what I am doing. They can even be washed, if you are fussy about clean garden gloves!
For handling roses or tougher pruning jobs, I choose to wear goatskin rigger’s gloves. These are made from sturdy, but flexible leather. Rose thorns seldom penetrate them and if they do, they usually get caught in the glove, rather than in your fingers. They offer added protection for fingers and hands when working with long handled pruning implements and an excellent degree of prevention of blistered fingers when using tools for an extended period.
To extend my degree of protection, when necessary, I don “gardening sleeves”, or arm guards, made of sturdy leather, that extend right up my arms. These are fastened and fitted to size with Velcro and stay fixed in position superbly, as well as being comfortable and unhindering to work in. Mine came at cost price at the Melbourne International Garden Show, from Jan and her Morris Outside stall, where I have become a loyal customer. They were extremely faded, as they had been used for display and it seems, a lot of gardeners maintain vanity in their gardens and saw faded gloves as contrary to their dress standards. I fell in love with my bargain arm guards instantly and they have been helping to protect my arms from damage for many years, especially when I am arm deep, tending thorny roses that can rip my skin to shreds, if unprotected, or readily catch on woolly jumpers and cotton sleeves, that are my usual garden attire.
Arm guards when gardening are particularly important for anyone suffering from lymphedema following breast cancer and at risk of infection from scratches and wounds. Those whose blood no longer clots at the normal rate, resulting in potentially heavy blood loss from even a minor wound, or scratch, also need take extra care when gardening. This includes the elderly, but also anyone on heart medication, suffering from diabetes or post cancer treatments. Minimising the risk of wounds sustained whilst gardening ensures such gardeners can maintain their love of gardening, with the added protection of arm guards, in addition to gloves.
Finally, there are my ultimate all round gloves made for gardening, but flash enough to wear anywhere. These are my kangaroo hide gloves, tailored to ensure maximum flexibility and feeling of the fingers, but still offering a good degree of protection. Sturdy,breathable, comfortable and maintaining a fabulous degree of feeling through the fingertips, as well as being a fashion item, all in one pair of gloves. Admittedly, they were an expensive outlay in comparison to my other gardening gloves. That said, they will outlast my other gloves combined. These are also from Morris Outside.
What’s more Morris’ wonderful gloves and arm guards all of a very high quality and made even to fit gardeners with very small hands, like mine, will be available at Morris Outside stall, in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens at the Begonia Festival, 8th-10th March 2014. Morris’ products are also available online.