“ Brand: Greenfingers / Type: Garden bench „
At the beginning of what was loosely described as the summer, I invested in a new garden bench as part of my attempts to revamp my garden. I'd looked at various benches in local garden centres but they always seemed to be either rather cheaply made or else were so high end that they were beyond my price range, so instead I looked for one through one of my favourite gardening websites, Greenfingers.com which had exactly what I wanted. Greenfingers have a lot of benches to choose from and the quality of the materials used ranges from very cheap pine to extremely expensive wrought iron and though I was looking for something wooden which wasn't overly fancy as well as relatively low cost, I didn't want to compromise too much on quality. The bench I eventually chose was the Loreta Royal which cost me £49.99. This bench is still available from Greenfingers and currently retails at £59.99, slightly more than I paid but still great value for such a quality item. The reason I chose the Loreta Royal bench wasn't just because of the simplicity of the design or the relatively low cost but also because of the wood used and its sustainability. The material used in its construction is Shorea Balau, a wood I'd never heard of before but the blurb assured me that it was a hardwood which was very popular because of its similarity to teak both in terms of wood density and expected length of service. Unlike teak, however, Shorea Balau is not a rare hardwood and it's grown widely throughout the Far East. The wood used in the Loreta Royal bench is sourced from forests where the growers are working towards sustainability and has accreditation from the Malaysian Timber Certification scheme. Ordering and paying for the bench was a simple process using Greenfingers' checkout system and delivery was much faster than I'd anticipated, with the bench arriving just a few days after ordering. Of course, it came as a flat pack so I expected to struggle putting it together but, again, I was agreeably surprised. On opening the packaging, there were only four pieces to put together: the back, the seat and two arm sections. There was also the obligatory little plastic bag with various screws, nuts, allen key and brief instructions, plus a rather strange looking plastic piece of equipment I'd never encountered before. This turned out to be an ingenious little device which ensured that it was simple to line up the bolts with the nuts when joining various parts of the bench together. I've kept hold of this nifty little piece of equipment for future use. It's also worth mentioning that this bench comes supplied with all the tools you'll require to put it together. I can't believe how simple it was to put this garden seat together and even a flat pack numpty such as myself managed to have the whole thing constructed in around 15 minutes. It was that easy. In fact, it was so easy I wondered whether I'd done it correctly, though as I'd read the instructions before starting (I'm a female after all) I knew that I had. The finished bench is what I'd describe as a two-seater at approximately 4 feet wide. The official dimensions are 120cm wide x 66cm deep x 91cm high. When I'd first opened the packing and seen the pieces of the bench, especially the legs, I initially wondered just how sturdy it would be. The legs aren't particularly chunky which gives the bench a lovely streamlined look but I was a little unsure whether it would hold up if more than one person sat on it. I needn't have worried, however, as the whole thing is as solid as a rock. To be quite honest, because the weather has been so lousy this year, I haven't done much sitting on this seat but I have been hacking back the ivy from my garden walls and so the bench has been dragged round the garden and I've been standing on it so I can reach over the wall with my saw. It has stood up to this somewhat rough treatment remarkably well. Many of the benches I'd looked at during my search had been of really quite inferior quality, especially with regard to finish and many of them seemed to have rough areas which would have needed sanding down. That certainly isn't the case with this bench. The finish is beautifully smooth making it safe to sit on without worrying whether it will snag on ones clothes. It's a very comfortable seat to sit on, too, as the back of the bench slopes back very slightly allowing people to sit in a more relaxed manner rather than ramrod straight. If I have any criticism at all, it's that the colour of the bench doesn't exactly match the one shown in the picture on Greenfingers' website. That one is much paler and the one I received has a deeper reddish brown finish which I guess was done to make it look more like teak. Personally, I'd have preferred it left in its natural state so that I could choose the depth of finish myself. As it is, I've applied a couple of coats of teak oil for weather protection over the summer, although it could be varnished if preferred. I have a cover which will go on once the weather turns too cold to sit outside which will, hopefully, give the bench a little extra protection over the winter. I daresay seven months ownership is rather a short period of time to be able to comment on the bench's longevity but as it's already endured one of the wettest summers on record without any problem and been dragged around the garden whilst cutting back the ivy, I have high hopes that the Loreta Royal will last for many, hopefully warmer and sunnier summers to come.