Cast an eye on a sunny day across the Capability Brown landscape at Blenheim Palace and the sun reflects off the famous lake amid the rolling slopes of grassland.
Swans in profusion glide back and forth as a light breeze ripples the water. Tourists amble slowly, taking in this spectacular 2,100 acres of undulating parkland in the heart of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, with its imposing Vanbrugh designed palace, home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.
Beyond this pastoral scene, hidden amidst the parkland, lies a plantation of some twenty acres of Christmas trees, grown for retailing, and ranging from two feet to thirty feet in height.
Each year the Duke donates a thirty foot Christmas tree for the Woodstock Town Hall display. Faced with the need to clear areas of weeds and vegetation between the trees, as well as scrub and hawthorne around the park, Blenheim forester Robert Burgess contacted local dealers Turney Groundforce at Weston-on-the Green to talk about a solution.
The result was a demonstration, in late November 2013, of the latest Little Wonder BRC 26 Hydro Brushcutter. Robert and his forestry assistants, part of the Blenheim's eight strong Rural Department team, had ruled out spraying as not environmentally friendly and not possible of course on windy days.
Previously, scythes and other machinery such as hand-held brushcutters had been used to clear areas. What was especially liked about the Little Wonder was the fact you could get very close to the trees without causing any damage, as well as the benefit of hydrostatic drive, making it highly manoeuvrable and dramatically reducing the physical effort of taking down tough scrub.
"The way it tackled and took down a hawthorne I have been wanting to get rid off for ages impressed me straight away," Robert enthuses. The Little Wonder Hydro Brushcutter was also chosen for its ability to cut brush, tall weeds and saplings up to 2"/5cm thick, as well as for its simplicity and balance, being able to work on 20 degree slopes.
Solid rods give the operator control of the transmission, park brake and cutter blade, so there are no cables to break or adjust. The hydrostatic transmission offers infinitely variable clutch-less speed up to 4.2mph and 1.7 mph in reverse, ideal for working between the Christmas trees.
Cutting power comes from the Honda engine driving a tempered steel blade, the tyres are puncture proof and with plate steel skid shoes there is excellent traction, ground clearance and flotation over rough terrain.
Overall the Little Wonder is seen as a tough machine that's getting the job done for Robert and his team.
The Turney Group has been supplying Blenheim Palace with everything from mowing equipment to brushcutters and power blowers over the past twenty five years. Mike Leach, their Area Sales Manager, handed over the new Little Wonder Brushcutter in mid-April to Robert Burgess, ready to take on the fast weed growth promoted by the otherwise welcome warm and sunny spells after the long winter rains.