APRON BLING One of the phrases everyone is used to hearing in work is, "Has anyone seen my secateurs?" I am notorious for putting them down and not being able to find them. I blame menopause, or 'memory-pause' - now what was I talking about? One of the reasons use the Okatsune secateurs is that they have red and white handles, which makes them easier to spot when they've been abandoned.
hea sec dow the wha I us hav So it is not before time that I am now using a beautiful 'award winning' gardening apron from Connell of Sheffield. Amateur Gardening magazine voted the apron 'Best Buy' and it's easy to see why - the roomy pockets mean that I am not losing a lot of other things too.
I have tried tool belts in the past but let's face it no woman wants extra inches on their hips and I used to get annoyed catching the 'holsters' on a fragile green house door.
The gardening apron sits comfortably in front, as aprons do, and doesn't get in the way like other tool belts I've tried.
It is beautifully crafted, and I have to admit to often wearing it when I'm not gardening. It's too useful and beautiful not to and means that I know where my phone, wallet and lip salve are.
Connells of Sheffield also make a range of other fabulously useful products for the construction industry, farming, engineering, woodworking, and farriers. And the lovely craftsmen at Connells will emboss your name on most of the products too. Let's face it, with my memory, that is quite useful.
Visit www.connellofsheffield.com for more products.
If you quote RWAS10, you will get 10% off your order. Valid until the end of September Don't forget to come and see me in the Horticultural Marque at the Royal Welsh Show on Thursday, July 25, at 11 am. I will be talking about a range of gardening gadgets and products, and will of course be wearing my gardening apron.
COMMON SCENTS One of the things I love about this warm dry weather is how much it improves the fragrance of scented plants.
I think scent in a garden is still underestimated and overlooked when it comes to introducing plants into your plot.
There are a lot of plants that will provide great colour, ground cover, height, screening or whatever else you want PLUS scent. It just takes a bit of effort to learn what they are and maybe source them.
Maybe scent should be where you start! My front yard has a 6ft retaining wall on the one side with a flowerbed on top of it so I have planted the highly scented damask roses there.
The scent always lifts my mood when I come in or out. Flanking paths with the old fashioned pinks (Dianthus) will provided scent as you walk along them - just make sure you choose the highly scented varieties, some smell stronger than others.
I have Sweet Williams on the way to the chickens - another regular walk - and summer, or common, jasmine on the front of the cottage and where I sit of an evening (if I'm lucky).
Summer jasmine is an untidy plant and will get under the fascia boards if not tamed, but the scent is stunning and well worth the work - otherwise it would have had the chop years ago.
Buddleia is a great value-for-money plant that often has bad press as a weed.
The RSPB list Buddleia davidii as an invasive weed and warn against it, as it sets seeds so readily - even in the most hostile of places like guttering and chimneys as you will no doubt have seen.
But I think as long as you choose your variety and give them tough love, which means cutting them hard back in March and digging up the seedlings you don't want, they are a fabulous addition to any garden.
They are called the 'butterfly bush' for good reason - the butterflies and bees adore them. There is a size to suit all gardens, even tubs, and they are all fragrant.
Some are more scented than others, with Buddleia salviifolia having the best fragrance of all, and described as smelling like Chanel perfume. I wouldn't know about that but I do know Buddleias are better value for money!
Lilacs are another scented favourite, although a little short lived.
But planting one near where you park the car, for example, will provide you with scent and a smile for a few weeks in the spring.
My brother has sweet peas in his front yard, which are gorgeous outside and inside as a cut flower.
He grows them in big tubs, which is a great idea if you don't have flowerbeds at the front of your house.
Lilies, lavender and pinks will all do well in tubs too. The tubs can be moved when the plants are not in flower.
Larger scented shrubs include many of the Viburnums, Philadelphus and Daphnes, and at the other end of the scale, annuals like Phlox and Stocks can also be exploited for beautiful evening scents.
So next time you are at the garden centre for some new plants - remember to look for, or sniff out, the fragrant ones too. You know it makes 'scents'.