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Best gloves for pruning roses?

Gauntlets, such as these from Bear Wallow Glove Company, protect arms and hands while pruning roses.
(Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Goatskin offers excellent puncture resistance

When it comes to rose pruning, protection is crucial.

I know. I have the scars to prove it.

Fine-pointed prickles (a.k.a. thorns) can be wickedly painful. They easily penetrate most cloth or plastic garden gloves. They also snag on anything knit. Wearing rose-resistant gloves makes pruning much more enjoyable.

Leather (or at least something very thick, durable and puncture resistant) is a must. Most cowhide leather work gloves are tough enough to withstand bigger thorns. But they tend to not fit smaller or slimmer hands. Long prickles also find a way through split leather and cloth tops or cuffs, common features in work glove design.

Many longtime rosarians, like myself, use goatskin gloves. All leather, they protect the whole hand. Their fine grain is very rose-prickle resistant.

According to work glove makers, goatskin is considered the most puncture- and abrasion-resistant leather, important attributes when pruning roses. Goatskin's natural stretch allows the gloves to fit close and stay flexible. They provide protection while retaining dexterity, important for pruning smaller rose bushes.

Goatskin gloves are relatively inexpensive, about $20 a pair, and last for years. An example: Wells Lamont
goatskin work gloves , available at Ace Hardware and Amazon.

As part of its American Heritage line, Bear Wallow Glove Company makes an excellent goatskin garden glove that stays pliable after getting wet. Bear Wallow gloves are available at nurseries as well as Amazon.

Usually while pruning, goatskin gloves and a woven long-sleeved shirt are enough covering for my hands and arms. I wear knit layers underneath the long sleeves, but try not to wear knits on top; the roses snag sweaters every time.

On damp days, I wear deerskin gloves. Like goatskin, deerskin is flexible, lightweight and thorn resistant. (Deers love to eat roses; their hides have built-in thorn resistance.) A big plus: Deerskin retains its suppleness after getting wet. It doesn’t dry stiff. If I drop a glove, the bright gold color is easy to see in the garden.

Deerskin gloves stay soft after getting wet. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
In addition to the company’s plain deerskin work gloves, the Wells Lamont Comfort Hyde deerskin gloves come insulated (available online at Amazon); that’s great for winter pruning.

For the big jobs, I pull out the gauntlets. These are 18-inch ballroom-length leather gloves with goatskin hands and 12-inch cowhide sleeves. From Bear Wallow, they have survived a decade of climbers.
Available at nurseries or online at Amazon, these Protector Rose Gauntlet Gloves are expensive (about $60), but they're like armor against particularly thorny problems.

Besides pruning, they also come in handy when taking the cat to the vet.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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