WHEN it comes to chores in the garden clipping hedges can be one of those jobs you often put off – but for Patrick Cooke its one of the first things that goes into his diary every year.
His precision hedge trimming duties do take him at least two weeks to complete – so he needs to book plenty of days off for the task.
His annual intensive trimming feat involves cutting 12 huge 30ft high Yew pyramids at his stately home at Athelhampton in Dorset.
Spending literally days up down a ladder Patrick takes on this annual challenge knowing that the trees have been there for 120 years and its now his responsibility to keep them going for as long as he is living.
It’s a job his father Sir Robert took on until he died in 1987 and Patrick has been happy to continue to do his part of the legacy after the trees were planted back in Victorian times. They have now grown so high that even the modern ladder he uses is starting to be a little too short for the task.
Patrick said: “The trees are such a key part of the garden and it’s a really important job so I have to clear space in my diary every year making sure the task is done correctly by keeping their shape and any vigorous growth in check. “The one thing you must have is a really good head for heights, wielding a power trimmer 30ft up you have to be confident and sure in what you are doing.
“The only way they can be trimmed is to gently lean the ladder against them and climb to the very top to cut them into shape. As well as this mechanical trim in autumn, they are hand pruned again in May, ready for the summer season.”
The famous Yew tree bushes in the pyramid garden were used in the film Sleuth starring Michael Caine and Sir Laurence Olivier and the massive trees form an iconic part of the house and grounds.
They are loved by visitors and often form an integral part of wedding pictures as photographers and brides home in on the giant shaped trees.