John Deere X305R lawn tractor at Peterborough Cathedral
Even a cathedral as spectacular as Peterborough’s imposing 900 year old Norman building needs more than divine intervention to keep its 20 acres of grounds looking good.
Head gardener and precincts manager Les Featherstone relies on his new X305R ride-on lawn tractor, bought from local John Deere dealership Peterborough Grass Machinery.
“We had a John Deere LTR180 for 10 years and it was working every day, so another John Deere was the obvious choice when we decided to replace it. The new X305R is bigger but it’s so quick and easy to use."
“There’s a large green at the front of the cathedral where people like to picnic and we encourage it. But it means that in spring and summer, when grass cutting is at its peak, we need to get in and cut the grass first thing before too many visitors are around. That’s when we really notice how much speedier the X305R is. Mowing takes less time and the rear grass box is so easy to empty too."
“Although the new mower is bigger than our previous model, the turning circle is better, and it’s very manoeuvrable which is important when you’ve got graves and headstones to work round.”
It’s not just cutting grass that keeps Les busy. “The cathedral is open all year round and there’s always something to be done in the garden. The X305R is such a versatile tool for us. We also use it with a trailer on the back for general garden maintenance work - there’s not a day it’s not used. The precinct walls create a sheltered garden so plants come on quite early and people come to see the bulbs along the spring walk. We’ve also got quite a few trees, about 200, which look lovely in the autumn.”
“People think of Peterborough as a shopping centre, but view this area from the top of the cathedral tower and you see a vast array of green in the city centre that I’m responsible for,” Les adds.
Les and assistant gardener Tanya Simons plus a team of six volunteers look after all the grounds, including the lawns and herbaceous beds of the Deanery garden, which is also open to the public on certain days of the year. Peterborough Cathedral is open to visitors throughout the year and there is no admission charge.