I’ve had a very pretty Danu wrap to stay for a few weeks, a travelling tester in the Salley Gardens design. It’s a size 6 cotton and linen blend, and quite a thick wrap, weighing in at 280gsm. The colourway is called Spring, and is a vivid combination of teal and black cotton, contrasted with creamy white linen. The linen makes up 48% of the wrap, and means in hand it feels weighty and silky, with that unmistakeable lovely linen gloss. I immediately fell for the colour because it’s the same as my favourite Danu, Cloths of Heaven Aisling. COH is one of my all-time favourite wraps, and absolute never-leaving permastash. I wear Aisling a lot and know just how good Danu linen can feel if it is fully broken in. I’ve also tried quite a few Danu slings in a much less supple state, the toughest being Sky Songs Midnight, which was incredibly beastly – unsurprising as it weighs in at over 300gsm.
Salley Gardens is named for the WB Yeats poem ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’, which is in turn a retelling of a traditional Irish folk song Yeats once heard sung by a woman in Sligo. The poem itself has taken on many new forms since he published it – it is now one of the most recorded songs in the Irish folk song repertoire, and has been set to music by several eminent composers including John Ireland and Benjamin Britten
And now the poem is retold once more, as a beautiful piece of cloth. The design of Salley Gardens is quite simple, and lacks some of the figurative representation many Danu wraps do. Instead of animals or trees, it has a sketch-like geometric pattern, resembling petals or leaves. Although I don’t generally go for shapes on wraps, I must admit that Salley Gardens looks really good when worn. The scale of the design is just right, so it doesn’t look too busy, and the end result is a very classy wear, especially in the amazing teal colourway.
I was pretty early on in the tester route, meaning the wrap was only partly broken in when it reach me. It was also freshly laundered and a little bit crispy as a result. I spent an evening braiding and passing it through rings, and then put it on my car seat and drove around sitting on it for a day. This took the crispy edge off and allowed me to start really wrapping with it. I never got it to properly flop before sending it on, but it was definitely a lot softer by the time my fortnight was up. Like other Danus, Salley Gardens is a seriously strong wrap. It easily carries my 2 year old daughter in a single layer with no sagging or digging at all. While tightening is a bit of a workout, once you’ve got the passes tight it holds rock solid and shines in knotless carries where gravity and the wrap’s grippiness hold everything in place. Simple carries like a ruck tied Tibetan with spread chest passes worked brilliantly well.
I struggled a bit more with a double hammock, because the wrap didn’t have the suppleness needed to fully tighten the chest pass and get a nice smooth second pass over D’s back. To be fair, this is something I struggle with in a lot of wraps, due to my hourglass shape and T-rex arms. I had to wrestle quite hard to get a nice saltwater finish but freshwater sat much more easily, although both were a bit bulky due to the wrap’s weight. I did find that carrying D a bit lower than I normally would helped add some more tension to the double hammock chest-pass, but overall I found myself back carrying in a ruck a lot of the time.
On the front, FWCC worked well, but kangaroo was a headache as I struggled to flip the shoulders and tighten them effectively. The top rail was still flappy after a good ten minutes of wriggling and fussing, by which time D had had more than enough and needed to get down. It really shone in a robins hip carry though, the thickness of the wrap resting very comfortably on the shoulders, and the main pass was more than supportive enough in a single layer.
Overall, I’d say this wrap isn’t really one for very little babies, or people who don’t enjoy breaking in wraps. If you like long-wrap carries with many passes and fancy finishes you may able find this wrap a bit too heavyweight for a very sleek finish. It is, however, ideal if you are carrying an older baby or toddler, and want something that will stand up to longer carries. If you are prepared to wear the wrap regularly it will undoubtedly break down to floppy, glidey loveliness in time. I’m sure it would also make an incredibly supportive ring sling. If you’ve ever heard linen can be diggy or uncomfortable on the shoulders, you really need to try a decent thick Danu before you judge. I’ve yet to meet one I haven’t liked, and Salley Gardens certainly stands up to its peers in the Danu catalogue.