Tools: when small is beautiful

For a few months now I have been trying out these new smaller tools from a relatively new British company, Kent and Stowe. I came across them at a show, and was immediately attracted to their Garden Life collection. They have designed this range with shorter handles, and smaller overall dimensions, making them lighter to hold and more nimble to use, whilst retaining all of the solid craftsmanship of their standard sized tools. Their target is anyone who isn’t a strapping Lady Chatterley’s Lover type, but they are PERFECT for raised bed gardening.

Having chosen to garden with a child’s set of tools for many years, it was great to find a good-looking grown-up range that is perfectly sized for raised-beds and smaller gardens where space (and storage) is at a premium.

Traditionally styled, but pleasingly unfussy, these tools are solidly built, with smooth ash handles and strong stainless steel. They compliment the garden rather than overpower it.

The balance is good, with a comfortable D-shaped handle, and they are really easy to manoeuvre. They are designed to be lighter than standard sized tools.

The spade has a shaped blade, with a footrest so that it’s not sharp on the foot. The blade is narrow enough to get in between plants without causing too much disruption to other things in flower beds. Both the spade and fork’s metal ends are just the right length to use in the raised beds without digging too deep.

The hand tools are also really nice to use, again smaller than the average. I have to say, I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to gadgets, and would rather just stick to the basics, so I wasn’t sure that I’d get that much use out of the hand cultivator. It has, actually, been surprisingly useful (the only thing I’d look out for is never leaving it prongs-up on the ground. Could be nasty).

I’m a stickler for quality, and would normally willingly pay more if I know it will genuinely pay off over time. I know there are more expensive pedigree tool brands out there, highly recommended by celebrity gardeners. If you have a big garden, are a heavyweight horticulturist, and plan to do a lot of heavy-duty labouring over the years ahead then this Garden Life range probably won’t suit you. If, like me, you value the benefits of smaller, nimble tools, then these are a joy to use.

Price-wise, they are amazingly good value. Furthermore, they all come with a 15 year guarantee. That’s pretty good if you ask me.

Considering Kent & Stowe have only been around for a year, they already have an impressively large amount of stockists. Which tells me they are on to something good. Click on the link here to find the one nearest to you. (You might want to ring first to make sure that they stock this smaller GARDEN LIFE range, as Kent & Stowe also do a full range of standard heavy-duty tools).

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