This was the first of what EBTS hopes will be a regular course run to help those who want to learn how to clip or improve the current skill level. The event took place in the inspirational setting of Balmoral, the garden of EBTS member Charlotte Molesworth in the beautiful village of Bennenden, Kent. Charlotte & Darren Lerigo (ModernMint) gave expert tuition throughout the day assisted by Donald Molesworth, Lynda Hinton and Chris Poole.
The 16 attendees were from a range of backgrounds, some in the business, some from college, some with gardens with significant amounts of topiary and others enthusiastic domestic topiarists. All had one thing on their minds, how to improve their skills and all did that through the day, learning what plants to use, how to sharpen and care for your tools and getting hands on experience with helpful advice from pros.
Buxus on display
Charlotte produced samples from all the different types of boxwood she has in her garden and displayed them in her studio, normally reserved for painting.
Hands on the right kit
Light weight, comfortable in the hands and with a clean smooth cut. If you need some shears for small jobs, may be a couple of box balls, a small hedge or a spiral or two, these are a good cost effective pair of shears.
Words used by users to describe the K800’s – lightweight, comfortable good value.
Approx price £40
These are a good choice for anyone serious about their topiary but don’t want or haven’t got the money to buy some of the well known kit from Japan. The metal handles certainly feel different to the wooden handled Japanese tools and some people commented they didn’t like the square profile, but others found them comfortable in their hands – always hold the tools and preferably try them out before you buy them, you might change your mind after seeing how they feel. The shears have a very assured feel to them regardless of where you hold them on the shafts.
Words used by users to describe the KR1000’s – comfortable, professional, well balanced, assured.
Approx price £75
These shears have the similar blades as the K800’s but have telescopic handles allowing you to reach higher or further on a hedge, avoiding ladders or leaning dangerously into a hedge. The handles make these shears less good for topiary as they feel quite bulky and slightly cumbersome in your hands. That said for normal hedge clipping rather than topiary, if you have a taller or deeper hedge, they might be worth a try as the blades were able to cope with a good range of material.
Words used by users to describe the K900Z’s – not aimed at topiary, less comfortable than some
Approx price £65
Fiskars HSX92 Hedge Shears
These are somewhat different to the others as they use a “powergear” arrangement to give “up to 3x more power” than normal shears. Whilst this wasn’t scientifically tested, they certainly handled the plants we tried them on. They were also used to clip a small box hedge and were cable if a little large compared some of the other shears we tried,but once you got used to the geared nature of the blades movement it was possible to clip the hedge. The shears are reasonably lightweight given they are intended for heavier hedge usage, but still comfortable in the hands with their softgrip coating. If you can only afford one set up shears and you have hedging and medium sized topiary to clip you could look at these, but we would recommend trying them first as the action, when clipping topiary, is different to the normal shears due to the gearing arrangement which doesn’t give you that direct connection you get from other shears.
Words used by users to describe the HSX92’s – surprisingly light for their size, capable when clipping a hedge, well built
Approx price £38
Fiskars PX92 PowerGear X Pruners
Like the Fiskar hedge shears these pruners are slightly different to conventional ones in that the handle rotates when you cut with them, the idea being that the ‘ergonomic rotating handle promotes the natural movement of the hand and distributes the force of all fingers over the tool for reduced effort‘. At first it felt a bit weird, but after a while of using them to cut back a number of stems, you forget the rotation and just notice how easy they are to use with no particular aches of pains in the hand after use.
Words used by users to describe the KX92’s – comfortable once you get used to them, effective, able to cope easily with garden pruning
Approx price £22
ARS-300L Needle Nose Fruit Snip
Very useful little clippers for small tidying up work on topiary jobs or creating tabletop topiary. Handles have a red pvc easy to grip covering that means they don’t slip out your hands whilst using them. The blades are sharp and there is a black plastic loop to keep the sprung blades together when not in use.
Words used by users to describe the ARS-300L’s – comfortable, easy to hold, none slip, sharp, get into small spaces, sprung blades reduced tiredness in hands
Approx price £10
Whilst well made with pvc coverings on the handles that made them easy to hold, they were felt to be better for fruit pruning than topiary due to their short blades.
Words used by users to describe the ARS-310’s – definitely more from fruit pruning, longer lengthed ARS-300’s better for topiary use
Approx price £10
Thanks to everyone who attended the day and especially, Charlotte & Donald for allowing us to spend the day in their wonderful Kent garden.
Keep an eye on the website for future clipping courses or sign up to our email updates.