Us pro gardeners are pretty tough. Even so, every year I’m surprised at just how cold winter is. When you go out at 9 am to get a spot of pruning in, and find your breath catching in the cold, you start to appreciate all the little design elements in tools that keep you warm and happy while working outside. So I was very excited to get to test out a pair of Fields and Lane Forester gloves, just in time for rose pruning season. They’re made of soft, flexible goat leather and even have a deliciously fleecy lining on the bottom of the glove to keep your hands cozy and warm. While I usually choose very thin gloves so I can have the best tactile sensation, an infected rose thorn in my knuckle last year made me re-think my safety strategy when pruning roses. Did you know that infected rose thorns can cause a number of nasty diseases? Neither did I, until a hard nodule formed on my knuckle and gave me reason to research the issue. I’m fine, but suffice to say, when you have a scare like that, you realize that taking a few small safety precautions is a small price to pay for good health. When I began looking into some thicker gloves for the coming pruning season, my glove gurus kept mentioning goat leather. It’s buttery-soft, doesn’t crack and get stiff with exposure to mud and water, and conforms to your hands in much the same way as a beloved pair of jeans or boots. They’re the type of gloves where once you break them in, you never want to take them off. (One of my local safety supply distributors even told me that the ladies he works with swear by goatskin to keep their hands soft, since there’s something in the leather that keeps skin supple and happy.) So with rose pruning season coming, I’ve been checking out goatskin gloves to see which is the best. There is definitely a wide range of styles and levels of quality in goatskin gloves. One brand I tested had thick leather that felt like it would need a LOT of wearing to break them in. I’m kind of impatient, so wasn’t really down with that. Another had thinner leather, but had such thick seams that they chafed my fingers and felt like a chore to wear. The Fields and Lane Forester glove has just the right balance – thin leather that’s still tough enough to withstand most rose thorns, flat seams which don’t feel like they’re in my way when gripping or pruning, and that luxurious fleecy lining which makes me feel a little sad to take them off after pruning. The leather is super-soft and provides enough tactile sensation to grip stems accurately and prune with ease. There’s even a little line of stretchy fabric just behind the knuckle that allows the glove to flex easily when you grip. For me, that line falls just behind the spot where I most need thorn protection, so it keeps my knuckles safe while still allowing good movement. My only complaint about the glove is that the thumb seems kind of long and baggy. All of my other fingers fit well inside the medium (I usually take a small, but their measurement chart said for me to try a medium), but the thumb has an extra half inch of space at the tip and feels loose. However, when I took the gloves outside and did some pruning, I noticed that I grip with a part of the thumb where the leather was fitted, so it didn’t turn out to be a problem after all. If you’re on the fence about whether to pick up a pair of these gloves for your winter pruning, Fields and Lane is a company you can definitely be proud to support. Their daughter Bonnie had cerebral palsy, which inspired them on their mission to help people with special needs. They donate money and volunteer their time to help people with special needs in the US and around the world, and it’s obviously a value they hold deeply. They also donated a huge number of gloves in the wake of 9/11 and the Haiti earthquake to help people during the cleanup efforts.
I’ll choose a commenter at random on December 7th, 2011 at noon Pacific time. US only. Good luck!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post; product and compensation were provided. However, all opinions are my own.