Branching out with the best of ideas

tyre them out: Horse swing made out of an aircraft tyre, �69.99, from Luca's Garden. Below, Portable Grow Bag Frame, from Crown Garden Products, �19.95.
tyre them out: Horse swing made out of an aircraft tyre, �69.99, from Luca's Garden. Below, Portable Grow Bag Frame, from Crown Garden Products, �19.95.
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GADGETS and inventions to make a gardener’s life easier was one of the reasons I went to the Chelsea Flower Show.

It’s not all £28,000 horse statues made of driftwood!

It’s good to know that there’s thriving (mostly)British companies out there, making the innovative and the downright quirky.

Here’s my pick of the best:

* Shoes that do exactly what they say on the tin! Lightweight, slip-on clogs from Backdoorshoes comes in bright photographic patterns – I opted for chilis – in women’s and men’s sizes.

You may live in your wellies in winter, but these are the summer version, so comfortable and just £20 (plus £2p&p),

* Shortlisted for the show’s Product of the Year, Dalefoot Compost’s Wool Compost range takes its inspiration from the old methods of Cumbrian gardeners.

The range is peat-free, made from sustainable bracken and sheep’s wool, for high levels of natural potash and nitrogen with good water retention.

There’s the basic Wool Compost, a Double Strength version, Lakeland Gold (a great way of breaking up clay, which plenty of us have), Ericaceous Mix and a seed compost.

You can buy it mail order and although it’s not cheap, allotment societies or groups of gardeners can order pallets which dramatically cut the cost.

For prices and more information, visit

* Gnomes I’m not a fan of, but a horse swing made out of an aircraft tyre is one of the best toys/ornaments I’ve seen in a long time, from Luca’s Garden, £69.99.

The firm also does lots more innovative ideas, see

* The Grow Bag Frame, from Crown Garden Products Ltd, turns a traditional bag on its edge, while its steel frame holds it in position, allowing better root depth and a strong vertical plant support.

It’s portable, even when planted and flat packs away for storage. It’s ideal for runner beans and tomatoes, especially where space is limited, rrp £19.95.

The company also does other innovative support products, all UK made, log on to

* Is your garden surrounded by concrete posts you can’t drill into?

Rivelin Glen Products has invented a wire anchor point that’s a doddle to apply, as well as many interchageable fittings to use on them, including pot rings and hanging basket brackets.

It also sells the Gripple Trellising System, ideal for wall training fruit.

There’s a host of goods available by mail order, visit

* Billed as “the secret behind great gardens”, Plant Supports (UK) provides very affordable steel supports. From innovative spirals to obelisks, the range is comprehensive. Log on to for details.

* I go through garden gloves at a ridiculous rate, so I’m fascinated to see how long these Ethel Garden 4X ones will last.

They’re made of bamboo (really), are vegan, anti-microbial, wick away moisture and offer more stretch than the average fabric. These extra-strong gloves cost £18.99, although the lightweight bamboo styles are £11.50,