Tuesday 22 September 2020
Today was another busy day spent hedge cutting down by the river Thames. We worked on cutting back the Trachelospermum jasminoides, which is attached to a wire frame above beds of lavender.
We used the long-arm hedgecutter to cut the jasmine back to the bed size beneath it, keeping the sides well trimmed. Unfortunately the T. jasminoides above two of the beds was in a poor stte, with a lot of yellowing leaves and plenty of dead branches. These were more tricky to work with, as there was less wiggle room when it came to finding the ‘lowest point’ to cut into. Finally, we cut the tops of the jasmine, nonetheless, as it was trained to climb towards an upwards slope, ever bed became more and more challenging to cut, without the use of a platform ladder.
Initially, I used the harness as it is meant to help take some of the weight off the machine and make it easier to manoeuvre. I did not find this to be the case, as the harness was too big for me and did not fit on my back. Instead, it pushed my head forwards when I was working and made it difficult to looking up a the plants without straining my neck. This is another in several examples of manual handling aids causing more issues. Eventually, I used the machine without the harness and – while this made it a lot tougher on my arms and shoulders – it helped my keep the lines (and my neck) straight.
We worked on these hedges for four hours straight and by the time we had finished, we were absolutely shattered. Bear in mind, this included lugging the machinery, cones, green bags, 150m of hose and the rest up and down two flights of stairs; hello manual handling hazard! Just when our arms were about to give out, we lugged more wheelbarrows about to cut the lavender under the jasmine. The lavender is on its last legs – and quite leggy at that – so we gave it a hard prune back. It usually isn’t advised to cut back into the woody part of the plant, however, it can be a way of extending its lifespan, when left unpruned for years.
This week so far has been very hard on our bodies and I’m full of aches and pains again, like I was when I first transitioned into this job! I’m not sure how a whole day of practicals at college is going to go tomorrow but I can’t wait to see our class and tutor again and work on a different site. In the meantime, keep my arms and shoulders in your prayers.