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Heroic gardening feats

A sunny day with a view of Powis Castle Garden in Wales showing gardener clipping the yew hedges with box hedges and hills in the distance
Gardener on a cherry-picker clipping the hedging at Powis Castle, Wales | © National Trust Images / Arnhel de Serra

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 the historic gardens that we care for 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 some of your favourite gardens in tip-top condition.

Gardening on the edge at St Michael's Mount, Cornwall
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 help the plants flourish is an essential maintenance job that's carried out three times a year.How the gardeners tackle one of Britain’s most precipitous gardens
A view of the terraced gardens and medieval castle at St Michael's Mount, Cornwall
Terraced gardens and medieval castle at St Michael's Mount, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Sarah Davis
A hedge for heights at Powis Castle, Wales
The colossal yew hedge at Powis Castle 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.Extreme gardening at Powis Castle
Voracious predators at Greenway, Devon
An army of thousands of insects has taken over the glasshouses at Greenway. 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.
A weed harvester lands on the island at Claremont with a rake full of crassula
A weed harvester lands on the island at Claremont with a rake full of crassula | © National Trust/Dee Durham
Tackling alien invaders at Claremont Landscape Garden, Surrey
An antipodean aquatic invader known as Crassula helmsii has proved to be an unwelcome guest in the lake at Claremont Landscape Garden. 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.Our work in the garden at Claremont
Dredging with horse power at Hare Hill, Cheshire
Over the years, the ponds in the woodland garden at 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 risks doing more harm than good, so an alternative solution was needed. Now gardeners and volunteers are using old fashioned horse power to tackle modern day conservation.The Wooded Garden project at Hare Hill
Cultivating a kaleidoscope at Nymans, Sussex
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. 
Conservators rehanging the Knight with the Arms of Jean de Daillon Tapestry following conservation work at Montacute House, Somerset

Preserving the past

From conserving historic works of art and delving into archaeology to supporting urban heritage and parks, find out about our vital conservation work.

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