By Ed Chatterton via SWNS
Workers have set about “the world’s toughest gardening task” by using a cherry picker to trim the famous 300-year-old hedges at Powys Castle in the UK.
Gardener Dan Ball will spend ten weeks trimming the massive 55-foot (16-meter) hedges at the historic venue in Welshpool, England.
Every summer, he climbs the castle’s yew trees and hedges using hydraulic cherry pickers and motorized shears to keep them in good condition for the rest of the year.
There are approximately 8,500 square meters of formal hedges and 14 yew trees, and the 14-metre-high upper terrace fence adds another 7,000 square meters to the gardener’s massive undertaking.
The hedges were originally planted in the 18th century, and are around 300 years old
It is considered one of the greatest examples of Baroque garden design in Britain.
“It’s a little scary when we first start cutting it, but after you spend eight or nine weeks with it, you get used to it,” Dan said.
“It’s basically like cutting your hedge at home a little higher in the air. The garden here is absolutely stunning.”
“I have a great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when everything is finished and the ridges, as we refer to them, are back in the shape that our visitors, staff and volunteers liked so much.”
Fortunately for Dan, advances in technology mean he only spends about a fifth of the year tending to his hedges, as opposed to the four months required in a bygone era.
It used to take 10 men 17 weeks to cut all the box and yew hedges using hand shears – all while sitting on long ladders and bolting them together where necessary.
The hedges are among the largest in the entire country and form a stunning backdrop to the impressive castle, which was originally built in 1200 as a medieval fortress.
Lady Violet, wife of the 4th Earl of Powys, who was responsible for restoring the gardens, said they had the potential to be “the most beautiful in England and Wales”.
The hedges’ unusual, cloud-like shapes tell the story of changing fashions in the gardening world over hundreds of years.
They were originally cut into small cones but were allowed to grow more naturally and tree-like after landscape gardening became more popular by the end of the 18th century thanks to the likes of Lancelot “Ability” Brown.
This continued until formal gardening re-emerged in the Victorian era and the yew trees were cut back, giving them the unique shape that still fascinates visitors today.