Scything and cider success at Wakehurst

Traditional harvesting methods were to the fore as workers on a Mid Sussex estate put their strimmers out to pasture and pick up a scythe.

Saturday, 26th July 2014, 12:43 pm
Scything and Cider Festival, Wakehurst Place 2014 Scything competition - Final SUS-140723-131307001

Not only quieter and safer then the modern motorised alternative, scything has even become a social pastime for the teams at Wakehurst, Kew’s country garden near Haywards Heath.

Conversationalists at the 400-acre estate are keen to develop their precious wild flower meadows – a habit in severe decline with a ninety-five per cent loss since the war.

Iain Parkinson has devoted his working life to conservation and masterminded last weekend’s Great Scythe Race.

He said: “There were individual as well as team events and everyone got in practice before the big day.”

Many conscientious landowners have switched over to scythes instead of strimmers while it’s also becoming a more social pastime, with groups covering areas together.

Large scythe plots were prepared, close to the site of the UK Native Seed Hub, behind the Millennium Seed Bank, for the contest.

The event brought together enthusiastic scythers from across the country for the two day competition which was judged not just on speed but also accuracy.

“At Wakehurst, the scythe is enjoying a renaissance as we discover that, in the hands of a skilful operator, it can be just as efficient as powered equipment. It also has great benefits when managing sensitive habitats which require a gentle approach,” Ian added.