Heroic gardening feats

Abseiling down cliffs to do the weeding and clipping gigantic yew hedges from the air are not your run of the mill garden tasks, but our historic gardens are anything but average. From bedding out 5,000 annual plants to dredging ponds with horse power, take a look at the more extreme and unusual gardening jobs that keep your favourite gardens in tip-top condition.

Gardeners abseiling down the walls at St Michael's Mount, Cornwall

Gardening on the edge 

A head for heights is a prerequisite for the gardeners working at St Michael’s Mount, on Cornwall’s south coast. Abseiling 50m down the castle’s cliff face garden to keep the weeds at bay and let the plants flourish is a thrice yearly essential maintenance job. Discover how the gardeners tackle one of Britain’s most precipitous gardens.

A weed harvester embarking upon the island at Claremont with a rake full of crassula

Tackling alien invaders 

An antipodean aquatic invader known as Crassula helmsii has proved to be an unwelcome guest in the lake at Claremont Landscape Garden in Surrey. The invasive green weed can quickly get out of control and completely take over - it can even crawl out of the water. Two amphibious tank-like machines with giant rakes are needed to take on the mighty weed.

Gardener cutting the 14m high yew hedge from hydraulic cherry picker. Powis Castle and Garden, Powys, Wales

A hedge for heights  

The colossal yew hedge at Powis Castle in Wales has had around 300 years to reach its current gargantuan proportions, but an annual cut is essential to keep it and the other enormous yew ‘tumps’ in good condition. One gardener, in a hydraulic cherry-picker with a pair of electric shears, spends about 10 weeks in the air to get all the trimming done - a sobering thought next time you tackle your own garden hedges.

The vinery in the Walled Garden at Greenway in Devon

Voracious predators  

An army of thousands of insects has taken over the glasshouses at Greenway in Devon. They devour their prey, leaving no leaf unturned and the gardeners love them. These insect super heroes provide biological pest control, munching their way through aphids, mealy bugs, red spiders and other damaging pests, all in a bid to keep glasshouses pesticide free.

Hare Hill Pond Dredging week 3 (2)

Dredging with horse power 

Over the years, the ponds in the woodland garden at Cheshire's Hare Hill have silted up, reducing the diversity of wildlife and putting the beautiful, historic garden at greater risk of flooding. Conventional dredging machinery is very heavy and risked doing more harm than good, so an alternative solution was needed. Find out how the gardeners and volunteers are using old fashioned horse power to tackle modern day conservation.

Colourful summer borders in the gardens at Nymans, West Sussex

Cultivating a kaleidoscope 

The famous double borders at Nymans in Sussex are a spectacular piece of horticultural theatre dating back to the Edwardian period. To create the kaleidoscope of colour, gardeners grow around 5,000 annuals each year, planted alongside the perennial plants. What seems like showy extravagance, is actually an essay in sustainable gardening. Recycled water is used and watering is kept to the minimum. Look behind the scenes to discover how these beautiful borders are created.