Haileybury makes light of its leaf problem thanks to battery blower

Autumn leaf fall is a massive problem to Eamonn Murphy, Grounds and Gardens Manager at Haileybury, one of the UK’s leading boarding schools, in Hertfordshire. The co-educational public school, founded in 1862, has grounds of over 500 acres with hundreds of trees, most of them native deciduous, with oak, birch and chestnut the principal offenders in terms of leaf shedding.

For weeks on end Eamonn and his team have the daily task of seeing that not only are the school’s pitches as leaf-free as possible, but that the surrounds of the teaching blocks and the main buildings are safe from fallen leaf hazards and always look in tip-top order.

Eamonn’s dilemma had always been keeping a balance between controlling leaf accumulation in the central school areas and minimising disruptive noise. His petrol leaf blowers needed air defenders for the operative, so teachers and the bursary did not welcome leaf blowing albeit necessary. Eighteen months ago he was introduced to Pellenc lithium-battery equipment by his machinery dealer, RT Machinery of Aylesbury.

After a trial period of using these he soon realised that noise need no longer be an issue for work close to school buildings and bought a set of the equipment.  Eamonn has had it in full active use at the school for just under a year now and the Pellenc Airion leaf blower, which weighs just 2.6Kg, is keeping the walkways and drives close to the school free of leaves.

“The acoustics of the school buildings and their surrounds are such that noises are much exaggerated,” said Eamonn. “Control of these light machines is very easy and actually more responsive than our existing petrol ones.  Set on level one, when you’re 10 metres away from leaf blowing, you can barely hear it. Even on the top level four, it sounds a bit like a hair-drier, no more than that.

“At first my staff – and to be honest me too – were a little sceptical about whether such quiet machines would have the power to do the job. We have been proved wrong. Leaf blowing is more than adequately dealt with, and having a multi-purpose power source in the battery back-pack is a real asset. Switching from job to job, which we have to do all the time, is so easy now.  

“The reduction in fuel expenditure is a big factor for us. In a single year we must have saved hundreds of pounds.

“I believe petrol-driven hand equipment will soon be a thing of the past. I pride myself on always looking for the latest and best solutions to problems, especially if they offer an environmentally friendly bonus.  I do not like to stand still when it comes to equipment and methods of working. Health and Safety and EU Directives keep on mounting, so it’s vital to conform or, better still, be ahead of the game. I like to think that, by doing jobs like leaf blowing using battery-power, Haileybury is a pace setter.”   

As a groundsman Eamonn obtained his initial training at Otley College in Suffolk and at Ipswich Town under Alan Ferguson, who is now in charge of pitchcare at the Football Association’s National Centre at Burton. After joining Haileybury as a Deputy Head Groundsman ten years ago, within 18 months, Eamonn took over as Head Groundsman and last year in a re-organisation took on the wider responsibility of Grounds and Gardens Manager, which has given him the opportunity to undertake and manage all operations at the school concerning non-building work.

In his time at Haileybury he has achieved HND in Sports Turf Science at Writtle College. He heads up a team of 13 groundsmen and gardeners and looks after 13 grass pitches for rugby, cricket, football, lacrosse and hockey, plus a sand-based artificial hockey pitch. Thanks partly to him, and with the support of the Bursar, the school is these days self-sufficient in equipment and manpower for all its sports pitch and garden needs.

As well as seeing that Haileybury now has sports pitches to match any at rival public schools, Eamonn has a one rare and notable international distinction. He is the International rugby pitch consultant to Kazakhstan. Haileybury has sister schools in the Euro-Asian republic in Almaty and a recently opened school in the nation’s capital Astana, and through Haileybury’s affiliation with the rugby team (1st team captain undertaking coaching sessions at Haileybury Almaty) was invited to advise on the re-construction and on-going maintenance of its national rugby stadium at Almaty, which he describes as a very challenging, continuous but fulfilling task he carries out with the full support of the school.

New Pellenc Brushcutter Launched

Developed for tough working applications and packed with advanced features for ease of use, Pellenc’s new Excelion brushcutter, distributed in the UK by Etesia UK, is the ideal maintenance tool for professional landscapers and contractors.

Featuring a brand new handlebar design and longer shaft, the Excelion is a unique tool which combines a brush and grass cutter in one: the multifunction head developed by Pellenc can be fitted with either the Pellenc wire made from a very high resistance polyamide or a wide range of metal blades adapted to your work. 

Further benefits include an ergonomically designed adjustable D-handle, flexible head and telescopic system featuring new soft anti-vibration grips for optimal comfort and increased safety. The brushcutter is exceptionally well balanced making it easy to use at varying angles in ditches, on slopes or steep inclines for added versatility. Two times lighter than some petrol brushcutters, the Excelion makes grass brushing and cutting much easier.

The 4-speed selector, exclusive to Pellenc has the durability to withstand tough conditions and demanding projects making it easier to adapt to the vegetation: slow speeds are recommended for edges and urban areas for example. Silent, rapid and extremely lightweight, the Excelion is the new brush cutter for professionals.

As with all other Pellenc products, the Excelion uses the ultra high capacity technology of the ultra lithium battery and guarantees non-polluting, odourless operation with quick start-up and a record operating range.

New Etesia Website Goes Live!

Etesia UK has just launched a brand-new website, showcasing their vast range of ride-on & pedestrian mowers, brushcutters and the complete range of Pellenc Lithium-ion battery powered equipment.

“Following years of being told that our UK website was in desperate need of updating, we are pleased to announce that our new website has now gone live”, said Les Malin, Etesia UK’s General Manager.

With a whole host of new features, the website has been totally redeveloped with both customers and dealers firmly in mind.

“As our customer base and product range continues to grow and expand, so must our ability to keep everyone up-to-date. We have therefore introduced a number of new sections on our website including the full range of Pellenc equipment”.

Other new features include:

  • Dealer locators for both the Etesia and Pellenc range of equipment.
  • A revised and updated product section, all with accompanying images and videos.
  • A warranty registration section for dealers.
  • A dedicated news section.
  • A resource section for useful downloads and links.

Heritage gardens are now ‘greener’ thanks to battery trimmers

National Trust properties in south Somerset have trimmed energy costs, time and noise as well as hedges this year. The four properties in this area of Trust administration switched to battery power in 2011 for the significant hedge cutting and topiary work that has to be undertaken annually and the results are significant. It is the Trust’s Greener Garden Fund for more ecologically sound outdoor upkeep of its properties that aided the purchase of Pellenc Helion lithium-ion battery-powered trimmers supplied by machinery specialists Bigwood and Partners of Taunton.

Lytes Cary Manor at Charlton Mackrell near Somerton dates back to the 14th century and was the home of medieval herbalist Henry Lyte, notable for his plant directory Lytes Herbal. Restored from dereliction 100 years ago by Sir Walter Jenner, its much-visited garden is a combination of outdoor ‘rooms’, topiary features, statues and herbaceous borders.

Damien Mitchell, the gardener-in-charge there, has two and half miles of hedging all told, predominantly of yew, hornbeam, beech, lime and privet. Work to keep them trim begins in mid-May and finishes in late October, which is peak visiting time and before now, when petrol or electric trimmers were used, this presented Damien with a variety of health and safety issues as well as user and visitor discomfort. Noise levels and trailing wires were the main offenders.

This year for the first time he used a Pellenc Helion hedge cutter with back-pack battery unit which drastically cut noise, user fatigue, and detrimental effect on passing visitors. These plusses alone would tick boxes in the Trust’s Greener Garden checklist, but a further bonus at Lytes Cary Manor is that power for the batteries comes from an on-site solar panel.  Three to four hours of free charging is enough for a day’s operation, so Damien’s cutting work is about as energy efficient as you can get and with zero carbon emission.

Topiary on yew close to the Manor itself and the shaping of 12 Apostles, a feature common to many large estate gardens of the time, also in yew, is a skillful trimming task that has to be conducted twice yearly. These are 100-year old features that demand serious attention and work on them this year has been noticeably more efficient, safer and quieter, reports Damien, who has up to four permanent gardening staff working at the property and about 50 volunteers.

“The new Pellenc trimmer is a lot more user friendly and the environmental advantages are considerable,” he says. “We are a lot more comfortable doing the work when visitors are here because they are not inconvenienced at all.”

Damien’s counterpart at nearby Tintinhull Garden, Tanis Roberts, has just volunteer support for her work at this 17th century manor house. Created last century, the gardens there have over 25,000 visitors each year and feature secluded lawns, pools and colourful borders, plus an attractive kitchen garden, woodland walk and orchard. Focal point is the Eagle Court and adjacent Middle Garden, characterised by striking boxwood domes along a central path.

Every year Tanis has the job of cutting the sixteen 100 year old plus Box domes. Until last year this was done by hand shears, which was laborious and would take about a month to complete. Tanis, who has been in charge of gardening at Tintinhull for nearly 20 years, had previously tried petrol trimmers, but the vapour caused scarring of leaves and the noise was an annoyance to visitors. She had also tried electric trimmers, but says she didn’t get a clean cut because the reciprocal action of the cutters chewed the edges of the leaves badly and caused similar unsightly browning. Hence a return to hand cutting, but with a number of different individuals using hand shears uniformity was hard to achieve, and this is essential with the domes, which are a precious heritage.

The Pellenc battery-powered trimmers she now uses have made it so much easier to achieve a smooth cut line, according to Tanis.

“There is no scorch and the risk of error is far less,” she says. “Switching to this equipment has saved me three weeks work – easily.”

Tintinhull is effectively a ‘subsidiary’ of Montecute House, another of the Trust’s south Somerset properties. Tanis borrows the Pellenc trimmers from there on a weekly basis and has them from Monday to Wednesday. At present she doesn’t have a solar panel facility, but plug-in powering of the battery overnight is sufficient for a day’s trimming.

“The back pack makes using them during visiting hours so much easier”, she adds. “You can easily step aside if need be, and visitors far from being inconvenienced by what you are doing, show a lot of interest in such quiet trimming.”

Tanis has also used the new trimmers on a bay arch in the gardens, also previously cut by hand shears. Bay is very tough to cut and you get a lot of chewed edges. The Pellenc trimmer made lighter work of it and with better results, she reports.  Another job, tedious with hand shears, the trimming of lower box edging around beds in the kitchen garden, has now been completed for the first time using the back-pack trimmers with very pleasing results.

So keen on the Pellenc trimmers is Tanis that she hopes to have her own for the 2012 cutting season at Tintinhull.

Two New Dealers Strengthen Etesia in the North West

Etesia UK have been working hard over the last few months in promoting both the Etesia & Pellenc product range and have seen a significant increase in brand awareness that has been highlighted by the rising number of new dealer appointments.


To strengthen their customer service across the North West regions, Turner Groundscare of Cheshire and Balmers Garden Machinery of Lancashire have both been added to the list.


Appointed to look after Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire is Burnley-based Balmers Garden Machinery. Established in 1979, the business is owned and run by David Balmer and has built a good reputation in the commercial and domestic sector with a customer base of local councils, national contractors serving golf, football and cricket clubs coupled with domestic and smallholding customers. “We’ve been familiar with the Etesia products for many years”, commented David. “We were very impressed with the ride-on direct collection machines and this was a major reason behind us wanting to become an Etesia dealer”.


Responsibility for Cheshire, Greater Manchester, the Wirral and parts of north Wales has been given to the Chester branch of Turner Groundscare, a large supplier of machinery to the grounds maintenance industry and general public. Commenting on the appointment, Brian Spruce said: “We had an Etesia dealership at a previous site and when this area was made available, we jumped at the chance. We recognise that the Etesia products fill a void that we had in our commercial product range and with us being one of the larger dealers in the UK, it means that we have the ability to provide very high levels of service to our customers”.


Les Malin, UK General Manager of Etesia UK said: “We are actively looking to recruit new dealers for Etesia and Pellenc as well as our new product range the ET Mowers, a range of robotic mowers. The appointment of both Turner Groundscare and Balmers Garden Machinery mean that we now have knowledgeable and experienced teams supporting the Etesia brand across the North West with great contacts and strong links to the markets they serve”

Etesia Announce New Sales Appointment

Etesia UK is delighted to announce the appointment of Andrew Roberts as Northern Area Sales Manager for its range of Etesia and Pellenc Products. Andrew will be responsible for the North of England as well as The Midlands, Scotland and Wales.


Andrew joins Etesia UK with over 30 years experience in the grasscare sector and has an enviable and extensive knowledge of outdoor products and machinery having previously worked at Sisis Equipment (Macclesfield) Ltd.


Favoured by many of the UK’s top councils as well as landscapers and groundsmen, including National Trust gardens, both Etesia and Pellenc has gained a reputation for producing equipment that are highly reliable with low maintenance, making them the number one choice for many users.


Andrew’s responsibilities will include providing product advice, demonstrations and assistance to customers and dealers, as well as attending shows and exhibitions. He will also be responsible in the recruitment of new, approved dealers within his regions.


Les Malin, Etesia UK’s General Manager said: “We are extremely pleased with Andrew’s appointment as his extensive knowledge of the industry, our customer base and product range will enable him to build on our market position and ensure the highest levels of customer service are always achieved”.


Andrew can be contacted on 07792 894256 or aroberts@etesia.co.uk.