1,800 lights for tallest UK living Christmas tree

Wakehurst Place - Christmas tree lights at Wakehurst.  Picture by Jim Holden
Wakehurst Place - Christmas tree lights at Wakehurst. Picture by Jim Holden
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The tallest living Christmas tree in the UK is all set for the festive season with 1,800 lights that took seven hours to place.

Intrepid Wakehurst Place director Tony Sweeney successfully climbed the giant 118ft redwood.

Tony placed the first of a cluster of lanterns on the top of the tree, to herald the start of preparations for Glow Wild, a winter lantern festival that runs throughout December, at the Ardingly botanic gardens and nature reserve.

After getting his breath back Tony, 61, said: “It was certainly a challenge! There is certainly a knack to it and I know my arms are going to be stiff tomorrow. I just tried to put 100% focus on what I was doing, and not look down until I got the very top.

“The view of Wakehust’s topography was utterly incredible. I could see the south Downs which were an amazing sight.”

From 8am a team of Wakehurst staff adorned the tree with 1800 LED lights. They were aided in their task by two elevated moving platforms. Workers carefully passed the strings of lights to professional tree climbers that were suspended throughout the tree branches.

It took seven hours to complete the task.

The tree was planted at Wakehurst, Ardingly, in the late 1890s and was one of the first exotic trees to be put in place on the 565 acre estate

Pilots are said to use the Wakehurst Christmas tree as a beacon when landing their planes at nearby Gatwick airport.