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Best footwear for gardening

Inappropriate short Desigual wellies at Harlow Carr

… or maybe the silliest

Footwear is a vital part of a gardener’s toolkit… the right footwear, that is.

I have been known to double dig in platform flip-flops (not recommended), but my heart lies with wellies – a surprise, considering I tried to lose them at every opportunity at infant school.

I suppose the difference between now and then is that I am not forced to wear them by my mother with short socks and a skirt and get chafed legs.

My first pair of ‘statement boots’ were the Jelly Belly wellies, when colourful ones weren’t the norm. Much loved, they ended up as plant pots. (You can still get them on eBay.)

My favourites (and my avatar on many a social media site) are the tiger Giesswein wellies – long, black, with a multi-coloured tiger wrapping around them (no longer for sale, sadly). One of them has developed a split and it’s like losing a family member.

Another pair of Giessweins (forget Hunter – these Austrian ones are the business) is for the really cold days – completely fur-lined black and grey tartan.

The naughty ones, and not really for gardening, are from Desigual – cream and black ankle wellies with laces and, er, the word ‘sex’ all over them. I put them on a wishlist online, quite oblivious of what the writing was, or indeed how clear it was. Certainly shook up the ladies at the first National Garden Scheme open day I wore them to.

Lastly, a mention in dispatches goes to Backdoorshoes. These almost indestructible slip-on, incredibly lightweight shoes are designed to do pretty much as the name suggests – pop them on at the back door to do whatever you need to outside.

I’ve had a pair of red chilli patterned one for years and they still haven’t worn out, only being replaced last Christmas as I was bought a black cat print pair.

They’re so comfortable, ideal for popping out to do a bit of weeding, or slipping off discreetly while you slope off for a well-earned pint and a few rays of sun in your favourite chair.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.


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