Quieter, earlier clearance at Hurlingham

The 42-acre Hurlingham Club beside the Thames at Fulham in west London, probably the most prestigious private sporting club in the country, is introducing Pellenc battery-powered equipment into its grounds maintenance repertoire.

Grounds Manager Peter Craig is doing this to lower noise levels and make the jobs of hedge trimming and leaf blowing more comfortable for his staff.  

Last year Peter bought two Pellenc Airion leaf blowers and a Helion hedge trimmer from equipment supplier Surrey Power, and earlier this year added a further one of each.

The Hurlingham Club has 13,500 members and a 15-year waiting list. Outdoor facilities there include 30 grass tennis courts, 10 croquet lawns, a cricket ground, two bowling greens, a small golf course, and a 2-acre lake, which feeds an irrigation system. The presentation of the grounds is what makes the club so special, but being in a residential area does pose problems for Peter.

“We have over 100 trees in the grounds and leaf fall is a consequential hazard of such a lovely environment,” said Peter, who has over 30 years experience in groundsmanship.

“Keeping the grass playing surfaces and all the paths and roadways clear is a daily task, even in summer with such fluctuating weather and anthracnose causing debris from our many plain trees.  Our biggest problem has been the noise that leaf clearing makes and it’s been difficult keeping both local residents and our members happy.

“Most of our grass courts are on the perimeter of the grounds which means we have to clear them before members arrive for play. In the past, we haven’t been able to use any machine before 8.00am to avoid disturbing the neighbourhood, but even after that some local residents have complained about the noise from our petrol blowers.

“The new Pellenc blowers mean we can start as early as 7.00am and nobody can hear them. It’s made a massive difference. No annoyance to locals, members having clear courts for early play and everywhere looks tidy ahead of our earliest arrivals.”

The Hurlingham grounds have a wide variety of ornamental and practical hedging – lonicera, cotoneasta, fagus (beech), lagustrum, laurel, box, yew, chameacyparis – each with different trimming needs. The problem for Peter and his staff here has not been the noise of the job, but the discomfort of using a petrol-powered machine for long periods of time.

“Hedge trimming doesn’t cause noise difficulties with our neighbours because the job can be done at any time. The benefit here of switching to battery-powered trimmers is the ease of use. They are so much lighter, yet just as effective as petrol machines, and of course quieter, free of fumes, and without potential harmful vibration.”

Peter sees battery power as the way forward for essential routine work like this. He is finding that one of his new Pellenc Helion hedge trimmers can be in use all day on a single charge and he gets up to three hours work out of one of the Airion blowers. His plan over time is to replace all of his petrol machines, as they come to the end of their operational life, with Pellenc battery units.

The 4-speed Pellenc Airion hand-held blower with back-pack lithium battery weighs 2.6 kg and has a noise level of just 80 db. The Helion hedge trimmer, also with back-pack lithium battery and weighing just 3 kg, has a pivoting handle and a range of cutting heads.

1,250 Mile ‘Mowerthon’ Journey Completed

One man has completed a 1,250 mile journey on an Etesia H124 ride-on mower in aid of national horticulture charity Perennial. Phil Voice trundled into John O’Groats on 15 October on the mower, successfully completing the epic ‘Mowerthon’, raising funds and awareness for Perennial.

Phil Voice of the Landscape Juice Network set off from Bergerac in France on the Etesia ride-on mower on 1 October. With an average speed of just 7.5 mph, the journey was hard going, but he successfully reached John O’Groats exactly two weeks later. Donations are still coming in and the Mowerthon is expected to raise more than its £10,000 target – anyone who still wishes to donate can do so at: www.justgiving.com/mowerthon

Phil used an Etesia H124 Professional ride-on mower and was supported by Etesia, their dealers and staff in France and the UK along the whole of his journey. The mower was the same as a commercially available machine used by local authorities and landscape professionals, but fitted with a cab to cope with the unpredictable weather. Etesia now plans to auction off the mower (further details to be announced shortly), with some of the profits donated to Perennial.

Phil describes his experience: “For me the Mowerthon was an adventure of a lifetime but I never lost sight of the important reasons why I was doing it. Driving so slowly, over such a long distance gave me a lot of time to think about why it was so important to raise money for Perennial and also raise awareness of the challenges landscape and horticulture practitioners face. This spurred me on day after day, sticking to a gruelling schedule so that I could complete the journey. I feel so emotional when I think of everyone who helped make the Mowerthon happen and who gave something, be that their time or money in making the Mowerthon a success. My very special thanks go to Etesia for their commitment and dedication to the project.”

Perennial provides free, confidential advice, emotional support and financial assistance to people of all ages working in or retired from horticulture and their spouses, partners and children. The charity helps professionals such as gardeners, landscapers, tree surgeons, greenkeepers, plantsmen and groundsmen. Its work depends entirely on voluntary donations from the horticulture industry and the garden-loving public, and the funds raised from the Mowerthon will be invaluable to the charity’s ongoing work in helping individuals and families.  

The Mowerthon was only made possible through the tremendous support of a wide range of UK landscape companies. Supporters included Forecourt Fuels Ltd, one of the UK’s largest fixed price fuel card providers, which supplied Phil with a fuel card at cost price for his UK leg, Affinity Landscapes which pledged to cover 50% of the fuel bill, keeping costs to Perennial at a minimum and Fusion Media (Europe).

For further information, visit www.hortaid.org.uk

Epic 1,250 mile charity mower challenge hits the UK

Look out for a man on a mower on the roads of the UK over the coming weeks. An epic Mowerthon is under way. One man is driving 1,250 miles on an Etesia H124 ride-on mower to raise £10,000 and awareness for national horticulture charity Perennial.

Perennial provides free, confidential advice, emotional support and financial assistance to people of all ages working in or retired from horticulture and their spouses, partners and children. The charity helps professionals such as gardeners, landscapers, tree surgeons, greenkeepers, plantsmen and groundsmen Its work depends entirely on voluntary donations from the horticulture industry and the garden-loving public, and the funds raised from the Mowerthon will be invaluable to the charity’s ongoing work to help individuals and families such as that of John Foley, BBC Young Gardener of the Year 2012:

“Perennial helped my family when my Dad became ill and all the family went through a difficult time. The Caseworker visited us regularly. They paid for my school trips and driving lessons so I could drive the van to flower shows. And they helped me access funding so I could go to Askham Bryan Horticultural College and complete my studies. Now I have a wonderful future and life is good for me.”

The ‘HortAid Mowerthon’ will see Phil Voice of the Landscape Juice Network driving the Etesia ride-on mower from Bergerac in France all the way to John O’Groats in Scotland. Phil set off on his 1,250 mile (2,000 km) journey on 1st October from his home in France and landed on to UK soil in Portsmouth on Saturday 6 October 2012.

Phil explains his motivation: “I’m always thinking of ways to help, and sitting at my desk one day I thought about walking from Lands’ End to John O’Groats to raise money for charity, but this had already been done,” commented Phil. “I then had a brainwave. Why not do it on a mower? Better still, why not do it from my home in France? After an email to Les Malin at Etesia UK which he forwarded to Patrick Vives, Etesia’s President, they offered a machine with their full support.”

Phil is calling on motorists, gardeners and horticulturalists from across the UK to show their support by honking and tweeting if you spot him (#mowerthon #iveseenphil), following his progress via the Landscape Juice Network blog and donating online or via free text. (Text HORT47 to 70070 or visit www.justgiving.com/mowerthon)

Phil will be supported by Etesia, their dealers and staff in France and the UK throughout his journey. The mower, used by local authorities and gardeners, has been fitted with a cab to cope with the unpredictable weather and has a top speed of just 10mph, yet he hopes to complete the journey in around two weeks.

Forecourt Fuels Ltd, one of the UK’s largest fixed price fuel card providers has supplied Phil with a fuel card at cost price for his UK leg. Tremendous support has also been received from a wide range of UK landscape companies including South East England based Affinity Landscapes, a commercial landscape maintenance and grounds care business, which has pledged to cover 50% of the fuel bill, keeping costs to Perennial at a minimum.

Social media will play a huge part in securing further free services en route including accommodation and refreshments.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation put their trust in Etesia

Launched over 100 years ago, Joseph Rowntree established the trusts bearing his name. JRHT (Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust) owns the freehold of the vast majority of the properties in New Earswick, North Yorkshire. A major part of the trust’s gardening work is to keep the amenity grass surrounding the 2,500 properties in top order. Earlier this year, it took the decision purchase a second Etesia ride-on mower to cut and collect in an effort to further improve its grounds care service to residents.

In spring this year, the trust contacted a number of local dealers who all brought a variety of machinery to test on their own site and in their own environment.

After the vigorous testing process, the trust purchased a Hydro 124P from Golf and Turf Machinery, based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The Hartrigg Oaks site, like all the other community villages gets its grass cut once every fortnight by gardener Andrew Scott.

Hatrigg Oaks is a retirement community for the over 60’s consisting of 150 houses and 80 flats which provide care for residents. The site, which is 20 acres, has amenity grass covering half of that.

Andrew says that the cut and collect with high tip facility was a fundamental ‘box ticked’ when it came to making the purchase. This means that all grass clippings are tipped into a recycling skip and taken off site.

The new Hydro124P is fitted with a 124-cm overlapping cutting deck and a 23-hp two-cylinder Vanguard engine. It has a high hourly mowing output of up to 15,000m² per hour, and an unequalled weight-to-power ratio. Above all, it represents excellent value for money, both for the initial purchase and for use over a longer period.

“We are absolutely delighted with its versatility and how it’s performing for us,” said Tom Hepburn, Team Leader. “We’ve been using Etesia since 2001 and the mower we purchased then is still in use now. After the demostration and coupled with the excellent service we’ve had from Etesia over the past ten years, it was an extremely easy decision.”

Etesia are renowned around the world for being able to cut and collect, even in wet conditions and it’s something that Andrew and his team has been impressed with. “It’s been excellent in the wet. If it wasn’t for the tyre marks it would leave, you could even use it to cut and collect in 2″ of water it’s that good! It’s certainly been tested in the wet summer we’ve had this year and we’ve all be impressed by the very tidy finish it leaves.”

Another important factor in the decision was on-going costs. This was another area that Etesia came out top. “They are highly robust and don’t let anybody down. Repairs are minimal, so our workshop costs are low,” said Tom.