Machines from Kubota’s Groundcare range are playing a central role in the maintenance of one of West Sussex’s most picturesque National Trust gardens.
Head gardener Paul Gallivan joined Woolbeding Gardens six years ago, having spent 15 years at RHS Garden Wisley, and has long been a Kubota fan. Paul and his five-strong gardening team boast a Kubota range that includes an STV40 with cab and loader, a B1620 compact tractor, a G23 ride-on with high dump collector and a one tonne capacity Kubota tipping trailer.
Located a few miles north of Midhurst, West Sussex, the Woolbeding Estate was given to the National Trust in 1957, having originally been owned by the Lascelles family. The estate comprises of a total of 1102 acres, of which 26 acres are devoted to the gardens, which were designed by Lanning Roper and later Julian and Isabel Bannerman.
The estate is rare within the Trust’s portfolio in that the Grade I listed house, once the residence of Sussex poet and novelist Charlotte Smith, is still a private residence today and the gardens are only open to the public two days a week.
Restricted opening hours doesn’t reduce the maintenance requirements for the team though, and the right machinery helps them ensure that high standards are maintained. “When I first started here we had an old BX Series sub compact tractor which was still running well but it was in need of renewal,” explains Paul.
“Because we’re open to the public it’s important that we portray the right image of the Trust at all times, which doesn’t just count for the gardens but the condition of our machinery too, which is why we work on a 10-year machinery programme with a three to four-year renewal for most of our kit.
“Reliability and residual value are key factors when we buy new machinery, especially as we’re looking ahead to the next decade. For a lot of our work we need smaller tractors to access narrow areas, but we still require a good deal of power for jobs such as flail mowing and loader work.”
Paul is particularly taken with the “impressive power-to-weight that you get with the Kubota tractors range”. He continued: “The tight turning circle on our B1620 is particularly good for maneuvering around the gardens.”
Paul’s relationship with Tom Gaskin, from local Hampshire-based Kubota main dealer, Rod Gaskin Ltd is key to his longevity with the brand. Rod Gaskin Ltd has supplied the majority of Woolbeding’s groundcare kit to date, but they also handle all servicing and repairs, with great success.
“Tom and his team are always on hand when we need them and they’re flexible when it comes to servicing. Downtime always has to be minimised and they’re happy to loan machinery to help us avoid losing productivity, which is a great help to us.”
The team’s G23 high dump mower is the workhorse of the fleet, and since it’s arrival five years ago it has improved efficiencies for the team, negating the need for laborious manual grass collection. Upgrading his G23 is top of Paul’s wish list and he has no plans to look to other manufacturers when he does.
“It’s important for us to have kit that can tackle lots of jobs. For our tractors that includes everything from loader work to mowing and trailer work. We use our G23 to cut and collect in the peak season but it also doubles as a leaf collector in autumn. Versatility is key to maintaining the high standards that visitors expect from the National Trust. Our Kubota fleet helps us achieve that.”
For more information on Kubota and its extensive range of solutions for the groundcare sectors, or to find your local dealer, visit www.kubota.co.uk or call 01844 268000.