Taken from Lynne’s weekly column ‘Green Scene’ for the Western Mail. 25th March 2017
So, the first day of spring brought snow instead of spring sunshine, but it’s not that uncommon. Only two years ago March saw quite a lot of the white stuff too and the week following St Patrick’s Day is often a week of extreme weather – be it hot or cold!
The good news is that, according to all the folklore I adore, Easter will be dry and warm. I don’t want to step on Derek the Weatherman’s toes either, but long term folklore predictions are all indicating a really nice hot and dry summer. Even with possible drought conditions. Which reminds me, now is a great time to get a good deal on water butts. It may seem hard to believe now with all my work clothes drying out by the fire – but make a note, and remember you read it here first!
I have become a huge fan of Japanese gardening tools. They are just so efficient. I strayed from the much-used, familiar Felco secateurs to the fabulous, Okatsune secateurs (No 101) a few years ago. They are just so comfortable to use all day and incredibly sharp – they also make a very satisfying ‘snip’ noise, which has to be experienced to be understood. I have also converted my brother, who uses the larger size (103). Gardening guru, Bunny Guinness described the Okatsunes as ‘Life changing’, and it’s definitely not an exaggerated claim.
My other oriental ‘must have’ is the wonderful all-rounder, the Hori Hori knife. Described on the website as, “a Japanese trowel, all-round weeder, bulb-planter supreme and general subterranean rummager…. the carbon steel blade runs right into the handle, so won’t bend or snap. It has an extraordinary ability to very quickly become people’s favourite tool in the garden. Brilliant for planting bulbs, weeding and all sorts of garden stuff – but whatever you do don’t take it as carry on luggage.” I really can’t better that description, although I have found even more uses for it.
More details at www.niwaki.com
As well as loving Thompson & Morgan seeds and plants – they have just been taken over by a Brecon-based company, which in Lynne’s world, makes them ‘local’ – I just like their ethos and constant exploration and evolution.
And now they are offering customers a new interactive element to their catalogues. Working in conjunction with Layar, a global leader in augmented reality and interactive print, T&M’s products are coming alive in the pages of its plant catalogues this spring.
Easy to use and extremely user-friendly, Layar is the world’s most popular platform for augmented reality (a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view). The company aims to ‘bridge the gap between the print and digital worlds’ – meaning that their technology can make printed images ‘come alive’ on the screens of our smart phones and tablets.
Since launching the Layar facility in January of this year, Thompson & Morgan noticed that an increasing number of its customers are using Layar to view pages in its spring catalogues and are enjoying the new interactive digital experience.
Once customers have downloaded the Layar app onto their smart phone or tablet, they can scan the pages in the T&M catalogue which display the Layar logo. The scanned page then comes to life! Users can tap their device’s screen to view ‘how to’ videos and photo galleries; to buy products; to contact Thompson & Morgan and to share content on social media.
If it all sounds a bit sci-fi and techy and like something from a film starring Tom Cruise, then go to www.thompson-morgan.com/layar for more information and tips on how to get the most out of this fantastic technology.
Whilst I love the phrase, “Modern technology owes ecology an apology.” I have to accept that aspects of technology like this, can only increase people’s gardening enjoyment and involvement! It won’t ever replace a trip to the garden centre, but for many people, it does open up a whole new world.
Thompson & Morgan’s marketing services manager, Clare Dixey said “T&M is keen to stay abreast of developments in technology which can provide our customers with an enhanced experience. We’re aware that not all of our customers will use the facility, but we’re noticing a good number of customers are enjoying the added content and ease of browsing and ordering’.
And a reminder of another of my favourite sayings: ““Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it onto the bottom of the blanket and get a longer blanket.”