Although during the Winter months there are still plenty of important jobs to do in the gardens here at Chartwell, it is perhaps not quite as intensive as at other times of the year. It therefore gives us a chance to carry out a lot of essential behind the scenes tasks. Greenhouses are cleaned, seeds are ordered and as we shall see in this blog post, essential machinery service and maintenance is carried out.
Alastair is our resident petrol head and engine expert here, as can be seen from the above photograph! He leads the team through a series of checks on each and every piece of equipment that the garden team owns. Oil is changed on the tractor for instance, blades are sharpened on the pedestrian mowers, fuel filters are checked on the strimmers, belts are tightened on the ride on mowers, and yes many, many grease nipples are newly greased! We are lucky that we are able to do as much of the work in-house as we can as it saves us a great deal of money that would otherwise be spent sending off equipment to specialist engineers. This year, Alastair has been instructing our Academy Gardener Rhiannon in the likes of cleaning air filters, checking valve clearance gaps and changing worn spark plugs as can be seen below:
This rigorous process of checking, cleaning and replacing is very important for a number of reasons. Not only does it save us money in maintenance fees, it also prolongs the life of all of our equipment, meaning that we have to replace expensive pieces of kit less often. It also means that our machinery will be much safer to use and less likely to break or malfunction when in use. A further benefit is that our equipment will run much more efficiently having been thoroughly serviced. In turn, this means that the environmental impact of running the machines is that much less. The National Trust as a whole and here at Chartwell in particular, we are very committed to reducing our carbon footprint and being as ‘green’ as we possibly can. This is something the whole team, from our Gardens & Estate Manager Giles downwards, believes in completely. As well as the likes of our recycling and composting systems and our 100% use of peat-free compost, we have already added some battery powered strimmers and hedge trimmers to our collection and we are currently looking at the possibility of installing solar powered charging systems too.