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Here's the dirt. Gardener boots aren’t specifically handcrafted for gardening; they’re a true all-purpose work boot.
“They’ll take the bangs and the bucks and the scuffs that come with working in stockyards or jumping in and out of trucks, but they can also handle mud, moisture and sand,” says R.M.Williams Head of Footwear Development, David Cook.
The Gardener’s 2.2mm kip upper is the toughest leather in the R.M.Williams boot room, and highly water resistant. Stretched over the same last as the round-toed Turnout, it comes in a wide G fit or extra-wide H fit, with half-lining through the shaft leaving room for a thicker sock.
The snug fit around the ankle keeps the dirt and grass seeds at bay, while the heavy-tread vulcanised rubber sole is both oil and acid-resistant. The design is revolutionary, but also evolutionary, for the Gardener has come a long way since first stepping out more than 70 years ago.
The original Gardener of the late 1950s came with a double-thickness, wax-impregnated greenhide sole that was brass-screwed to the innersole and capped with a stacked greenhide leather heel. It was an instant hit with pastoral hands on the great plains of western New South Wales, but there was one hurdle; the waxed sole could get slippery on the dry, grassy slopes of hill country, so it was replaced by the robust treaded rubber composition sole.
“This combination held fast until the 1990s, when the brass screws were swapped for sewn Goodyear welt construction allowing for easy repair - for an upper will outlast even the most hard-wearing sole if it’s looked after properly,” David Cook explains.
The Gardener Commando - released in 2021 - is the more heavy-duty alternative, delivering another layer of head-turning aesthetics to a tough and durable build. Handcrafted with Chromexcel leather sourced from America’s famous Horween tannery and a non-slip Itshide rubber sole from the UK, it’s a purposefully crafted modern version of the original. “It’s got a round spring toe that kicks up slightly to keep feet comfortable over hard terrain and long miles, but it’s also got the heavier sole with the full storm welt, so this is a premium execution of a versatile urban boot with the most responsive shock absorption, stability and support for extended wear,” David says.
Still made with 80 sets of hands in R.M.Williams’ Adelaide workshop, the Gardener Commando blends European style with year-round practicality. “It’s extremely popular both here in Australia and overseas, and will stand up to any journey as a street boot or a pastoral boot,” David says.
And even though it isn’t technically a gardening boot, it will still put in the hard yards.