So after getting up at 5.15 on Friday morning to catch the 6.25 train to Paddington, I blearily presented myself at England's second oldest botanic garden for a most fascinating session. I also got the chance to join a tour of the garden as we were free to have a wander around afterwards. Both my garden visit and the hints and tips I gathered on the day will form later posts.
Of course any sponsored gathering will have a sales pitch and Friday's turned out be a demonstration of Bosch's range of cordless garden tools. I'd guessed this would be the case and had giggled to myself in anticipation on the train as NAH's father was an early adopter of the technology in the 1970s.
He bought one of the first battery powered lawnmowers which didn't look like a designer had been anywhere near it as it was an ugly beast. The car battery perched on top which was used to power it meant it was extremely heavy and unwieldy and took a long time to recharge after use. How different the range of tools we saw on Friday turned out to be! They were light, easy to hold and packed a host of features to make them easy to use. Recharging times are so much shorter and usage times much longer these days, thus adding to their convenience.
As it was a pruning/topiary masterclass, most of the session focused on the secateurs and mini trimmer (aka shrub shears) part of the range. After a brief demonstration and question/answer session, we were let loose to have a go ourselves. I have to say I was seriously impressed despite arming myself to resist all schmoozing before I went. I was particularly pleased with the results of my trimming a large topiary spiral on offer, after using the mini trimmer. I also liked the secateurs: I'd initially dismissed them as being a bit of a gimmick, but as the owner of a bad tempered elbow of the tennis variety, I could see how useful they are for anyone who has a lot of pruning to do, or finds the more physical side of gardening is becoming harder.
We also got to see the bigger, more robust tools in the range: lawn mower, strimmer, hedge trimmers and chainsaw. We had the chance to handle most of these, though the chainsaw was hastily put away - they must have seen the speculative gleam in my eye ;)
We got to choose the secateurs or a mini trimmer and edger set to take home in our goody bag. I chose the trimmer because I don't have anything like it in my toolset. I'm glad I did, because as well as the tasks we saw demonstrated and tried out on the day, I've already thought of a host of new uses for it in my garden and on the allotment and can't wait to get cracking :)
We also had the chance to make suggestions: I've asked for a cordless shredder so I don't have to lug all my trimmings such as old raspberry canes and apple tree prunings back from the allotment. This will please NAH no end if they do develop one as he's always complaining my car looks like a travelling compost bin. We all thought the pictured demonstration of how to change the different blades on the trimmer would make a good video (is that the right word these days?) to go up on YouTube as it was a little fiddly to get just right. An improvement which immediately sprung to my mind is to make the little hole on the blade and the 'button' on the handle much bigger, so there's a better chance of getting the two fitted together first time.
My thanks to Bosch for being such generous hosts, to Geoff and Roger for making tools demonstration such a giggle; to the catering team at Chelsea Physic Garden for a delicious breakfast plus the evilly gooey chocolate brownies later on (yum); and to my fellow bloggers Ben, Geoff and Jacq for being such good company on the day.