The Absentee Gardeners

By Lise Jenkins and Kit Flynn - For The Yadkin Ripple

Howling wind, gray skies, and freezing temperatures have touched me with cabin fever. So when sunny moments arrive I’m dashing outside looking for garden chores that need my attention. A few broken branches to prune, mulch washed outside of a planting bed, and before I know it an hour has past. My fever broken, I feel better.

Thank goodness gardening is a year-round endeavor.

Just as the right tools make a job easier, the right clothing makes garden time more enjoyable —especially necessary for working in less-than-perfect weather. But finding the right gear for gardeners can be a frustrating and expensive process of trial and error.

I’ve tried outdoor gear made for hunters; and while its sturdy construction holds up for garden chores it’s too heavy and I come inside a sweaty mess. Active wear for runners looks great but it’s expensive and the fabric is too delicate among my plants’ prickles and thorns.

This season I made two unexpected discoveries that both function well doing garden chores and are presentable around town.

Food to Fashion

After World War II our food production methods started changing. Chemical fertilizers and mechanical tractors had boosted crop yields and refrigerated transportation allowed farmers to move their products to larger markets. Workers in the emerging refrigerated food industry needed to work all day in cold environments moving and handling food.

Enter RefrigiWear, ( which started making clothes in the 1950s for the food industry and over the years has expanded into other markets. Their designs are roomy enough to move yet fitted at waist, cuffs, and neck to keep the cold out. The outer fabric resists tears and is water resistant so I stay dry. After some muddy work I’ve thrown my jacket into the wash and it comes out good as new. Their affordable prices means I can spend more money on plants.

Improving the Familiar

Based in Middlesex North Carolina, American Giant ( proudly embraces our state’s textile heritage and proves that even the familiar sweatshirt can be improved. Perfect stitching, durable ribbing, and easy zippers make their jackets a delight to wear. Their design and fabric raise a simple jacket from a necessity to something I look forward to putting on as I head outside.

Supporting a company that brings jobs to our state, is fiercely patriotic, and builds on our traditional industries makes me happy. Their jackets move with me in the garden, keep me warm and dry on raw days and that makes me even happier.

Jackets that wear equally well in the garden or around town; well that’s a solution that brightens the day for any gardener. Banishing cabin fever; I’m heading out to my garden in style.

Lise Jenkins and Kit Flynn are contributing columnists. Absent from their gardens, they enjoy roaming our region exploring the intersection of innovation and horticulture. More on Twitter @AbsenteGardener or email:
Unexpected style for the winter gardener

By Lise Jenkins and Kit Flynn

For The Yadkin Ripple