Gardening / Tool Box: A snip for the dedicated pruner

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PROFESSIONAL pruners pay pounds 40 and more for top quality secateurs. Even many amateur gardeners fork out in excess of pounds 30, according to my mole at Percy Thrower's Garden Centre in Shrewsbury.

Lower down the scale, Draper Tools' G860 secateur is listed at pounds 14.68 and represents good value for light-to-medium pruning. It had no difficulty slicing through a dormant apple tree's half-inch-thick branch. It has a convenient, thumb-operated lock and a steel blade whose Teflon coating should help to combat corrosion. The bright orange handles make this a difficult tool to lose, but they are just a little too short for my grip.

The G860 is an anvil secateur whose action resembles an axe blade coming down on a chopping block. It tends to crush as well as cut as it gets older.

The by-pass type operates like scissors. It cuts cleaner, but can twist the wrist when tackling hard wood. The choice boils down to 'horses for courses' considerations and personal preference.

Draper's distinctly feminine G880 by-pass secateur costs only pounds 7.96 and is adequate for light pruning. A professional's verdict - 'suitable for a casual lady gardener' - ruled out my eternally toiling wife.

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