Tag Archives: Victoria

Kneeling In Comfort

garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
SVSeekins

It did not take me long to realize that weeding from a standing position was only a short-term exercise. Kneeling down to dig out roots is so much more effective…
but not without its challenges.

The search for solutions was a journey of several years.

foam kneeling pad

kneeling pad, kneeling mat, foam gardener kneeling pad, knee protector, garden knee pads review, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

(about $10)

The first step was a simple, inexpensive one, protecting my knees from wet, mud & rocks.  The rectangle piece of foam is lightweight and easy to move around.  I just throw it into the weed bucket with the rest of my tools for handy storage at the end of the day.

folding kneeling bench

Then came a birthday gift …. (catalogue listings for $50+)

folding kneeling bench, kneeler, folding garden stool, garden kneeling pad and cushion seat, knee pad seat, knee protector, garden knee pads review, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This is a luxurious option.  It has the protective benefits of a simple kneeling pad plus the bonus of handhold assistance while getting up & down from the ground– surprisingly useful & appreciated even after a few hours in the garden.

Inverted, it becomes a stool.  I’m hard-pressed to recall using it that way — but I’m sure I did a couple of times at least.

I like that it folds up for storage.

It’s a bit cumbersome to lug around the garden, but this is just whining on my part.  I quickly gave up the simple kneeling pad & used this instead.

Eventually, I found the bench was just too awkward for slopes & confined spaces, so I searched out other options.

foam knee pads

About 10 years ago, I got a  $30 pair of knee pads from a garden centre.

cloth & foam knee pads with velcro and clip straps, garden knee pads, knee protectors, garden knee pads review, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

It’s so convenient to strap them on & not have to reposition a kneeling bench whenever I move about the garden.  That said, knee pads are not trouble-free.

The strap highest on the leg is elastic with velcro closure.  It’s comfortable as my thigh flexes but stretched out quickly.  The velcro clogs up.  The non-stretch webbing of the lower strap works well to keep the knee pads from sliding down my calf.  The strap adjuster loosens during use, so I need to tighten the belts throughout the day.

cloth & foam knee pads with velcro and clip straps, garden knee pads, knee protectors, garden knee pads review, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

When planting from a kneeling position, the gap between the pad & my bended knee collects soil resulting in filthy jeans.

The cloth outer surface of the knee pad wore out long before the usefulness of the other components.
Duct Tape to the rescue.  🙂
Fashion sacrificed.  😦
I recovered the exterior several times before finally giving in to vanity & looking for a better solution.

pants with built-in knee pads

I’d already used C’s logger pants for blackberry bashing.  (Purchased long ago for who knows how much?)

Logger pants - viewed inside out,, pants with padding over thigh and knee, knee protectors, garden knee pads review, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Logger pants are designed to be tough-wearing.  They protect thighs & knees with extra quilted padding sewn right into the pants.  (Here’s an inside-out view of them.)  They’re heavy & HOT.  I get so dirty that they need to be washed every day. I reckon the washing machine would wear out agitating that kind of bulk longterm.  So its a pass.

I found some carpenter pants with knee pockets to hold removable foam knee pads.  Sensible idea,  but I dismissed them because of cost ($100+). I get my garden jeans at the thrift store inexpensively – this costly new option was too much of a price difference for me to get past.

Confident there’s another way, I set out to create an apron / chaps invention from thrift store materials. Unfortunately, it was beyond my sewing skills / patience.

Then I remembered something I already owned…

Hiking Shell Pants

Living on the Pacific “Wet” Coast teaches a person about enjoying the outdoors, even in the rain.  Gortex is my friend.  One breathable rain jacket I bought came with a handy pair of hiking pants.  (The set cost $200, but I would’ve paid that for the jacket & felt the pants were almost a freebie).

tough shell hiking pants with full leg zippers, knee protectors, garden knee pads review, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The pants are a rain-resistant version of snow pants.  A full-length zipper runs along the outside of each leg.  When I’m walking through tall, dewy grass, the wet wicks off the material.  I unzip along each leg to allow air circulation & cooling as needed.  Snaps at ankles & waist hold the pant legs in position, so they continue to protect.
Lightbulb moment – – I can wear knee pads under these hiking pants.
No soil ingress behind the knee pads.
Cleaner jeans.  🙂

This works a treat during either end of the gardening season. After dividing perennials, I throw my lightweight outer shell into the wash & come inside with relatively clean jeans.  🙂
One problem: Double layers are not the answer for summer gardening.
So close…
The search continues…

gel knee pads

My 2nd pair of knee pads came from a lumberyard for $50.

flexible accordion rubber shell with gel liner knee pads, industrial knee pads, knee protectors, garden knee pads review, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The gel padding is a lovely upgrade from the garden centre knee pads.

The hard outer shell is much tougher than the cloth covering of my 1st pair, too. The accordion-shaped upper ridge reminds me of something from a spacesuit but is much better at blocking soil ingress.  My jeans stay cleaner.    Moisture collects behind the shell, so the knees of my jeans get wet.
Sweaty knees – who knew?  A minor inconvenience.

flexible accordion rubber shell with gel liner knee pads, industrial knee pads, knee protectors, garden knee pads review, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

I first worried that the adjustable rubber straps with their buttonholes would be the weak point of the product.  Over a couple of years, the straps stretched a bit, but not beyond their usefulness.   That flexible strap makes wearing comfortable, yet it stays firm enough that the pads don’t slide down my calf.  It was the button itself rather than the belt or buttonholes that turned out to be the weak point.  One day it just sheared off.

flexible accordion rubber shell with gel liner knee pads, industrial knee pads, knee protectors, garden knee pads review, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

C came to the rescue this time with a small drill bit & some zap straps to bind the belt permanently in position.
Crisis averted. 🙂

A few weeks later, a button on the other knee pad sheared off too.  That’s when I noticed a crack opening along the edge of the accordion joint. I guess they’re pretty much done for, even though they’re otherwise in good shape.

These tough kneepads have been such steadfast, comfortable workhorses.  I’d hoped to be set for life.

garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Back at the lumberyard, exact replacements are nowhere to be found.
Curses!
These knee pads were so well suited for my tasks – – what now?  The options on the shelves were designed for roofers & floor installers – – all too big & bulky for me.  I don’t want to go back to the garden centre knee pads – too problematic…  What have I missed?  What do you use?

Finally, I searched online &  was directed to a local industrial safety outlet.  I picked up a  new set of the gel knee pads & am back in business – for now…

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You might also enjoy:

Purple Salsify

Mt Tolmie camas in bloom
photo by SVSeekins

I was marvelling over the camas meadow on Mt Tolmie when a friend pointed out another wildflower.  I’m so glad DL distracted me. The profusion of camas is beautiful, but so is this new discovery.

Tragopogon porrifolius, common salsify, purple salsify, oyster plant, vegetable oyster, Jerusalem star, Jack go to bed, goatsbeard,
photo by SVSeekins

It’s only a single bloom… almost hidden in the tall meadow grass…
insignificant in comparison to the flamboyant camas.

But once I get close enough to look into the flower itself —  I’m delighted.
It’s so pretty!

Tragopogon porrifolius, common salsify, purple salsify, oyster plant, vegetable oyster, Jerusalem star, Jack go to bed, goatsbeard,
photo by SVSeekins

I love the colour…
the simplicity of the daisy-like, purple petals…
The extensions of the supporting bracts behind the petals suggest an explosion…
And the yellow pistles are the sparkle at the end of a fireworks display…

I don’t recognize this flower, but it really reminds me of the Yellow Salsify I noticed along a trail at Fairmont Hot Springs a few years ago…

Tragopogon dubius, yellow salsify, western salsify, wild oysterplant wester goat's-beard, goatsbeard, common salsify, Tragopogon major
photo by SVSeekins

They’ve gotta be related, right?

My trusty wildflower guide only lists the flower called Yellow Salsify.
(That’s what I saw near the hot springs…)
But the fine print in the description talks about a Purple Salsify – Bingo!

salsify seedhead
photo by SVSeekins

It’s a member of the aster family & related to a dandelion…
(That reminds me of the 4-inch wide Salsify seedhead that astounded me in Oregon near the Deschutes River.  — It’s all coming together now!  🙂  )

Tragopogon porrifolius, common salsify, purple salsify, oyster plant, vegetable oyster, Jerusalem star, Jack go to bed, goatsbeard,
photo by SVSeekins

Even though I’m not familiar with it, Purple Salsify is a fairly common biennial.  Europeans farmed it during the middle ages:

  • a carrot-like root,
  • a substitute for potato,
  • & a taste a bit like oysters.  Hmmm… gourmet ????

In some circles, it’s considered an ornamental… that makes sense to me.

Others call it a weed.  Good Grief!

I guess it’s all perspective.

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Other plants that might be consider ‘weeds’:

Hungry Deer

It wasn’t unusually cold but this must’ve been a looooong winter for our local deer. They’re feeding on things they don’t even like.

species tulips - browsed by deer,
photo by SVSeekins

Gardeners know that deer like tulips.  But the smaller species tulips have always been safe.  Not this year.  Check this out: in a plot of a dozen botanical tulips- only 4 blooms survive.  It looks like a deer snacked on leaves, then came back a few days later to taste-test the flowers. The flavour must be pretty bad because someone didn’t clean his plate.

laurel browsed by deer
photo by SVSeekins

Each winter the deer get hungry enough to nibble on some of the broad-leaved evergreens. This laurel has never been chewed down like this before.  There’s a toxin in laurels, so deer avoid it most of the time.  I’ll bet this browsing session caused indigestion!

variegated yucca browsed by deer
photo by SVSeekins

Even variegated yucca is looking tattered & much worse for wear.  In our garden, the deer always take the bloom before it opens, but the leaves – – they’re so sharp  & tough & stringy!!  Good grief.  Aside from the toxicity factor, how is it even palatable?

I’ll bet the herd is glad the spring growth is on its way.

But then again…
Even in the growing season, the deer on Mt. Tolmie have taken to eating Lily of the Valley.  They never used to do that.

Licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza,Polypodium occidentale, Polypodium vulgare subsp. occidentale, many footed fern, sweet root, , garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

We used to have lush licorice fern in the yard.  Now it’s barely holding on.

There must be some other reason than the scarcity of winter.  I reckon it’s because our urban herd is growing, as is human density.  This dynamic presents some challenges:

  • Housing is taking up a higher percentage of space in a city lot.
  • In turn, that increased housing is reducing the size & number of gardens.
  • There are more & more urban deer – – grazing on fewer & smaller gardens.
  • The deer are getting hungry.

I’ve improved some of the caging around our garden beds.  I’m not much of a fan of that look, but it’s better than naked shrubs & dead perennials.  It’s getting more difficult to decide which plantings to leave exposed.
I still enjoy seeing wildlife in our neighbourhood.
We’re both caught between a rock & a hard place.

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