Whilst the exhibitions and the main gallery do not open until Saturday March 17, I take delight in writing this blog post on the very first of the grounds-only open days of the 2018 season at Compton Verney. After a particularly tough winter period where snow and storm force winds have left their mark, I’m glad to say that the paths are swept, the benches have been cleaned, the welcome centre is warm, and the first flowers of the new year stand proudly awaiting their admirers. As an historic property, Compton Verney works in some ways like estates of this size always have, at this moment in time for example, staff are once again busily working indoors to prepare for the season ahead. Staff duties today of course are more about facilities improvement or exhibition preparation, as opposed to beating exotic rugs or buffing up a fireplace grate or twelve! In a less dramatic way the grounds team of today, whilst flexing to take care of elements such as The Clearing, the Woodland Play Area or Bird Hide; have much the same tasks in hand as gardeners would have for the last three hundred years or so. My team continues to evolve the landscape gardens at Compton Verney with a view to embracing all that it is […]
I find myself sitting down for a while after a heavy morning of work putting the courtyard in order, following recent disturbance due to snow clearing. I’m pondering, as I do, what I should create in terms of this, the last Landscape & Garden Update of 2017. It certainly has been a long and very busy two months since my last post, bringing news that for another year Compton Verney attracted higher visitor numbers than the preceding year. A Growing Team Another record breaking year means more people than ever are visiting, seeing, and enjoying the park that the team and I care so much about. Most, but not quite all of the grounds team are to be seen in the image above, when we met for an end of season gathering at our recently finished grounds workshop. The team has grown over the last few years, and has become very adaptable to the many challenges that are thrown our way, but in every instance, there is always a smile on every face and a willing attitude to join in and move things forward. It is largely down to this group above, that the lawns remain green and lush, the paths stay neat and firm, the plantations keep […]
I’m not sure if it is just me, but haven’t we enjoyed some dramatic skies this year? Maybe I’m just taking more time to look, or the weather is simply more theatrical than usual, but time and time again I have found myself standing back in awe of the cloudscape that clothes the landscape. Painterly Skies At Compton Verney of course, being a designed landscape, the views are always impressive. When heavy clouds move and the sun beams through however, the architectural landscape can be transformed to an altogether different and breathtakingly beautiful level. Wild Flower Areas In these images you can see where we have been busy removing grass and dead perennial wild flower growth. In the wide open spaces we utilise agricultural cutting and baling machines, in these smaller areas however we choose to flail cut, and then rake off the cuttings. For certain, this work could be tackled by hired-in machinery, but this once-a-year activity does keep us more closely in touch with the progress and gradual improvement of the wild flower areas that we are nurturing – whilst it is hard work, it is never wasted time. The cut areas may look shocked for a while, but in no time at all this, and other areas will be […]
Top 30 Bird species to see at Compton Verney Interested in bird watching? If your answer is yes and you are in reach of south Warwickshire then Compton Verney could be worth a visit. Although an art gallery with all the modern conveniences, Compton Verney happens to be situated in 120 acres of designed landscape and is surrounded by many more acres of woodland and beautiful countryside; it is quite simply a magnet for a wide range of bird species! Connected woodland parcels, hedgerows and streams direct birds from surrounding farmland to the wildlife site that is Compton Verney, and with an ever-growing path network that is easy to navigate, not to mention our bird hide; opportunity to spot birds is better than ever! Over 100 bird species recorded. Bird species recorded on site topped the 100 mark last year, and all were sightings by our resident bird spotter Alwyn Knapton who visits each week, adding to our knowledge of resident and migratory birds that rely on Compton Verney. From the lists I’ve picked out 30 that are typically seen, and the areas where you’re most likely to see them. If you’re a keen bird watcher, I’d suggest bringing some binoculars and dressing up in greens to maximise your chances […]
Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas) – found here playing poo-sticks by the Adam Bridge. (Photo-RSM) Over the last few weeks I have been sent some wonderful images of Flying Visitors at Compton Verney, taken by two volunteers; Arthur Owens and Michael Robertson-Smith. Some of the species weren’t identified so I felt duty bound to obtain names for information sake, as not only does it add to your interest but it’s hugely informative, directing our attention towards the host plants and habitat each species enjoys. In this respect, (and given the lack of time to research) if I’m out on identification please let me know through the comments section and I’ll research/adjust as necessary. I must say that identification was helped through two very useful websites, and to this end I am hugely grateful to both the British Dragonfly Society and Butterfly Conservation – Both of these organisations are presently offering challenges for wildlife spotters (The Big Butterfly Count 2017 & The Dragonfly Challenge) so please do check out the links in each case.
Welcome to the Landscape & Garden Update – 13.06.17. Mowing As I type both the heat and longer daylight hours continue to stretch forcing maximum growth from plants across the park at Compton Verney. Lawns in particular have been growing strongly for many weeks now, prompting frequent mowing sessions; all in an effort to keep the landscape looking just so. If I’m honest, there are times when we can be overtaken by grass growth, but our machinery has been chosen specially to allow us to ‘catch-up’ if you like, so effectively we are always in control – or so I like to think! Our latest machine acquisition was thankfully supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the on-going project to restore and re-view the ‘Capability’ Brown landscape. Meadows
I have to admit that I had flirted with the idea of spending a week as caretaker in ‘The Clearing,’ the dome shaped building presently beside the lake at Compton Verney. In the end I let the chance pass, so when the opportunity presented itself once again, albeit for just one night – I couldn’t resist the opportunity. Here’s my recollection of one night in The Clearing at Compton Verney.
Welcome to the latest news from the grounds team at Compton Verney – Landscape & Garden Update – 05.04.17. Landscape and Garden Generally speaking, the weather through late winter into spring has been mild, encouraging a steady and more traditional flowering period for plants throughout the grounds. The good quality footpaths we’ve installed over the last few years make Compton Verney a great venue for some early season fresh air, and especially so for wheelchair users (Do check our Access in the park information.) All the paths follow historic and designed routes, meaning you’re never far from a group of flowers in the grass or within the woodland garden areas, and there’s always a significant landscape vista around the next corner – a true landscape garden indeed. spring flowers Over the years, drifts of spring bulbs have been established, and we’ve worked over the last few years to spread these through division and supplementary planting. The horticultural effort over many years is finally coming to fruition now, and for a property that is more often known for its sweeping parkland, lake and stately trees; we’re gradually gaining recognition as a garden property. From early season winter aconites, through snowdrops and hellebores, to daffodils and windflowers; spring offers a surprising variety of blossom […]
Open Tomorrow! I couldn’t let the weekend pass without a quick post to let you know that the park at Compton Verney will be open from tomorrow – Saturday 18th February. The weather is looking settled for the weekend ahead, the welcome centre will be open, and the landscape is inspiring in its winter form. What better opportunity is there to get out and soak up a great British landscape!
Welcome to the latest news from the grounds team at Compton Verney – Landscape & Garden Update – 3.02.17. The grounds team were relieved to reach the end of 2016 following a very hectic year which brought a new Welcome Centre, continual adjustments to the park, creation of a new building for the grounds team and much more.
Between the South and West (Wild flower) Lawn is a grove of mature Lime Trees at Compton Verney. Planted in a horseshoe pattern, and between the trees a gravelled, serpentine path snakes through the grass. Standing stately as high as the mansion itself, the trees are largely pollarded specimens where the top branches have been pruned back, whilst way below Winter Aconites carpet the ground with their yellow blooms showing from Christmas through to early February. The trees themselves are beautiful, dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and were planted we believe to frame views to and from the mansion house. Aside from their aesthetic value, they also offer a wealth of opportunity for wildlife, and offer a very important roost for Noctule Bats. The trees are certainly worth seeking out if you visit Compton Verney, and are unmistakable at any time of year due to their distinctive form – branches sweeping the ground, large protruding buttresses supporting each trunk, and dense clusters of twiggy growth around three metres above the ground. At any time of year they are beautiful to see, with refreshing lime green leaves in spring moving to butter yellow through autumn. The image above was captured in November 2016 looking south, with the middle pool […]
If butterflies and moths are your thing, or you simply appreciate a good photograph, then this web page titled ‘Winged Visitors to Compton Verney’ is for you. We’re very aware of the rich environment that surrounds us, yet whilst we celebrate its artistic merits, we also embrace its wild side and do all we can to nurture and encourage this. To this end, we endeavour to learn as much as we can about the different species that visit or reside both in the garden and surrounding areas. Awareness is one thing, but increasing our knowledge is another and so this year the grounds team were joined by a volunteer with an eye for butterflies and winged insects in particular. Arthur Owens visited on numerous occasions during the warmer months, and despite a mid season start still managed to record and photograph a good number of species. As little is now to be seen, Arthur assembled his list for us, and a potted version of those that were captured on camera are shown below. The wider list will hopefully expand in coming years and be useful in our management of the outside spaces. We hope that the listed species have been accurately identified, but if you have any comments or […]
It would be remiss of me to let another day pass without a word or two about the results achieved at Compton Verney by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. It was Brown’s ‘Place Making’ efforts, in the pursuit of fashion which put the garden on the same page as many other notable landscape gardens in the eighteenth century – a fact that remains as relevant today as then. Invited along, (and paid for!) by the prominent 14th Baron Willoughby de Broke, John Peyto-Verney in 1768, Brown’s work followed that of Robert Adam who had spent the previous eight years updating the house. With a flick of the quill away went the previously fashionable formal garden to be replaced with a new, naturalistic style landscape with trees, serpentine lake plan and rolling acres of grass for farming and leisure pursuits. Teams of labourers and garden staff spent several years transforming the gardens and landscape to Brown’s new design, whilst master tradesmen set to work on a few very notable garden additions. The whole site would have been a hive of activity as the gravel walks, canal and parterres of the previous garden were gradually replaced by smooth lawns connecting the house with the […]
Landscape & Garden Update – 25.08.16 – As is often the case, the busiest and most active times for the grounds team at Compton Verney result in less time for blogging and social media. We are however committed to the Landscape Blog and very much see it as an opportunity for the grounds team to speak directly to those who maybe can’t visit as often as they would like. If you are planning a visit however, it is worth knowing that the my monthly grounds walks, this year focused on ‘Capability’ Brown, continue. The tours are the first Thursday afternoon in the month, at 1.30 pm – please book with reception. The Fifties Allotment On almost every visitor agenda just now is the Fifties Allotment that we’ve installed to compliment the on-going Britain in the Fifties, Design and Aspiration exhibition. Little did we know that our modest allotment would be so popular, with visitors asking to look around the plot even before it was due to officially open! The success of the allotment however has been a real team effort, with volunteers being largely responsible for creating the plot we see today. From the initial planting list, I designed a plot that would be as accessible as possible, with as many details as […]
One of our recent #CVgrounds volunteer recruits has been out and about photographing Butterflies at Compton Verney in July. With the Old Town Meadow, East Park, and the West Lawn maturing as wild flower meadows, not to mention a good amount of woodland and lake area; we’re rapidly becoming a drop-in centre for most local wildlife which includes some beautiful butterflies! If you’d like a stroll around to see for yourself there’s a link at the bottom of this post to visiting information, and I’d recommend in respect of butterflies visiting before the middle of August, by which time we’ll have cut the larger part of the meadow areas. Tip – a sunny day is by far better for butterfly spotting, with many species only venturing out when the sun shines! Below are a handful of stunning photographs snapped mostly by volunteer Arthur Owens that give a flavour of what can be seen during early July for example. From a grounds management perspective the images and accompanying field notes help to build a picture of butterfly and moth species that live or visit Compton Verney throughout the season, which in turn helps us select the best management options for the many areas available to us. ‘Capability’ Brown, when he completed the re-design of the Compton Verney landscape may or […]
It’s volunteer photograph time again, and this time yet again it’s some wonderful images of damselflies, which have all been photographed in three locations within the parkland at Compton Verney. We’re focusing afresh on butterflies, moths and damselflies and in a similar method to bird surveying, will be carrying out recording sessions with volunteers over the coming seasons.
Extension of deadline for Horticultural Apprentice! Deadline for applications now Mon 23 May 2016. A brief summary of the vacancy is below, but please click through to the Compton Verney website page at the bottom of the post for further information and application form. It is a great learning opportunity, working at an historic landscape garden, originally designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. This new role will include two years of training in a working environment, alongside the grounds team of staff and volunteers at Compton Verney. The individual will work to property, departmental and organisational objectives, whilst furthering knowledge and experience of supporting a landscape garden. This is a hands-on role, assisting in the delivery of high quality landscape and garden maintenance, and in due course with the planning, management and delivery of grounds based projects, to include visitor engagement and interpretation. Under supervision and guidance from Head of Landscape and Gardens, the candidate will acquire Level 1 or 2 work based diploma in Horticulture (Parks, Gardens and Green Space) in association with Warwickshire College. The role is a fascinating one, giving opportunity to learn whilst working in a fabulous and diverse heritage and arts location, with a great team of people. We […]
Long overdue is an update from the grounds team at Compton Verney…so here it is! Rising temperatures and longer day length makes for rapid plant growth, and most notably across the lawns and meadows. Indeed, brambles in the woodland garden areas have patiently waited and are now showing their worth and stretching for the light between the rapidly closing tree canopy. Across the lawns, we’re trimming as normal but for the West Lawn, the formally mown trellis pattern of last year is making way for informal paths that wind between the wild flowers. Already the mown paths are showing and can be followed to shady spots and a new feature garden I’ll describe below. Our bare-root planting was completed recently with a focus on the new ‘Wilderness-Area’ boardwalk. Colourful dogwood and willow was planted there and is already shooting from the tops of the rabbit guards, this will in time knit together to create nesting and feeding opportunities for our feathered visitors. We’ve also tried to capitalise on the moisture trapped in the soil during the winter and mulched many areas of planting. Mulching now with around 10cm of organic matter helps to retain moisture through the warmer months ahead, and makes […]
The buzzard is a familiar sight across many areas now, and particularly so at Compton Verney. Our bird spotter Alwyn captured the following image as a buzzard swooped down above an established woodland know as Kennels Coppice – an area planted during the 1800’s to screen the old kennels. Alwyn does have a theory that, as buzzard numbers continue to rise little owl numbers will fall; the buzzard it seems is said to prey on the little owl. Maybe you have thoughts or knowledge on this, if so we’d love to hear your experience. All images © Compton Verney / Alwyn Knapton 2016 Don’t forget that our bird hide is now up and running in the newly formed ‘Wilderness Area’. The hide affords a good view of the eastern arm of the lake where, with binoculars the Great Crested Grebe can be seen nesting. There is much settling down of the area around the hide, but early signs are good with birds regularly visiting the new feeders, and kingfishers seen frequently nearby. Do visit and enjoy! Regards Gary Webb, Head of Landscape and Gardens at Compton Verney.
Horticulture Apprentice Vacancy for the Landscape and Garden of Compton Verney. Maybe not on the surface your average garden; at least not in most people’s imagination. A property like Compton Verney does however, support a surprising amount of horticultural activity, requiring much knowledge, planning and care. A large mixed-age tree collection including county champion specimens with Cedar trees and others dating back at least to the 18th Century. An ever growing collection of heritage shrub and herbaceous plants, all adding to the Georgian atmosphere of the landscape. Established wild flowers in a range of habitats: lawns, woodland and parkland. The wild flowers of a parterre, designed in 2015 by Dan Pearson will be welcomed back for 2016, the previous formality replaced with serpentine mown pathways. All these features combine to provide a diverse workplace for those of a gardening kind, with a whole lot more besides. Combine the above for example with art installations, ongoing restoration of the landscape plus a wide range of visitor engagement activities, and it is easy to see that the new Horticultural Apprentice opportunity is diverse, offering much potential for someone to grow their career. A full role profile is available via the link at […]
Latest image from spotter Alwyn Knapton, a Nuthatch clicked in a woodland garden area at Compton Verney, taken on January 14th 2016. © Compton Verney 2016, by Alwyn Knapton 2016
Following the garden update sent out last week, I thought a good follow-up would be to use up some of the spare images and video clips from the trusty mobile phone. Enjoy! Compton Verney Landscape and Garden – January Highlights:
It’s high time for an update from the grounds team at Compton Verney where so much is happening it’s almost too difficult to keep track! We’re into that time of heavenly sunsets and beautiful frosty mornings, which of course brings ample opportunity for topping up the photo album.
Alwyn: My first visit of 2016 [to Compton Verney] on a rather overcast and damp day produced 36 species including the return of a Goosander.
Interested in social media stats? Here’s a few concerning a grounds, or garden blog from the team at Compton Verney.
Feedback from a bird survey at Compton Verney, early December 2015: The survey started at 8:30am on a rather windy day, but
A challenging year for the volunteer bee keeper at Compton Verney.
With the wonderful Batsford just a few miles away it would be folly of me to refer to the tree collection at Compton Verney as anything like an arboretum. However, as it’s National Tree Week, and especially if you’re interested in trees and country walks, then it might be wise not to overlook the trees of Compton Verney.
This week (25th November – 3rd December) sees the return of National Tree Week. Managed by The Tree Council, it is ‘the largest UK tree celebration – annually launching the start of the winter tree planting season’. Many events are planned around the country from identification sessions to community planting opportunities of group and specimen trees, so do check out the Tree Council web link for your nearest event.
Just a short post with my latest images showing progress with our Heritage Lottery Funded project to re-view the landscape at Compton Verney.
Did you encounter Dan Pearson’s ‘William Morris’ meadow at Compton Verney this year? Now the dust has settled and the wild flowers have been cropped, I thought I’d take a look back through poppy tinted spectacles to see what valuable lessons were learned.
Early Years Forest School Drop-in sessions for under 5s at Compton Verney every Thursday from 12.30 – 2.30 #CVGrounds
Interested in bird watching? If your answer is yes, and you are in the south Warwickshire area then Compton Verney could be worth a look. Although an art gallery with all the modern conveniences, it does happen to be situated in 120 acres of designed landscape – it is quite simply a bird magnet! Adjacent woodland and streams direct birds from surrounding farmland to our large lake, parkland and woodland garden areas, and with an ever-growing path network that is easy to navigate; opportunity to see birds is better than ever! Bird species recorded throughout the year totals 85 now, and for your information our bird watcher Alwyn has listed just a few highlights below that might tempt you to dress up in your greens and grab some binoculars.
Chapel Bank: Arranged a little tidy last week, and more is needed, but the Verbena bonariensis is still flowering beautifully so I’m loathed to do anything just yet. The plants are knitting together really well now, but time will come to sort out what is and isn’t working well – more of this to come. West Lawn: Much has happened over the last month. Having to retain the wild flower area until the exhibition closed, as could have been expected, pushed us into poorer weather and so the hay cut was completed in less than ideal conditions. Too much herby growth was left in situ, which isn’t great for wild flowers, so we flail mowed then Adam took to the worse areas with the trusty knapsack blower, collecting as much grassy debris as we could. It certainly smartened up the lawn, which is already greening nicely and the wild flowers now have a fighting chance.
The stroll into work takes many forms, and staff and volunteers at Compton Verney are most definitely spoiled. Walking as our visitors do along the paths and drives that lead from the car park to the gallery can be a mixed blessing, and there are the odd days when it can be a little too fresh so to speak. However, every now and then, and for many different reasons, we get witness things that make that walk memorable and very special.
I bring news of our final tree climbing day of the year at Compton Verney, in a tree overlooking the expansive west lawn and gallery building. Sunday October 4th will see the Big Tree Climbing Company return to host sessions all day long, helping individuals from six upwards to experience the thrill of climbing using ropes and harnesses. For all enquiries and booking, please contact the Big Tree Climbing Company direct, via the following link: http://www.bigtreeclimbing.co.uk/event/warwickshire-7/
At any given time we have activity that includes archaeology, architecture, construction, landscaping, restoration, interpretation and much more – it is all go I can tell you!
Latest image sent through from our bird recorder Alwyn, with a note saying there are good numbers of Long Tailed Tits around the lake at the moment, moving around with Chiff-Chaff’s and other members of the tit family. Long Tailed Tit © Alwyn Knapton/Compton Verney 2015 Another spot this morning was a cormorant, who was down on the lake fishing along with our anglers! Of course, you can visit Compton Verney with your camera, most of the grounds are accessible quite easily, and we would love to see your results. You can share your tweeting bird images on twitter (pun intended!) using the hashtag #CVGrounds and we’ll share to the world! Visiting information available on the following link to the Compton Verney website: http://www.comptonverney.org.uk/plan_your_visit/default.aspx
Description of a bookable talk this Friday at Compton Verney, about the Arts and Crafts masterpiece Hidcote Manor Gardens, by Glyn Jones, Garden and Countryside Manager
I’m glad to report that a NADFAS team of Heritage Volunteers from the Stratford-Upon-Avon area have volunteered to help us research the development of the landscape and garden at Compton Verney.
A short and sweet update of birds recorded on camera at Compton Verney by volunteer Alwyn Knapton.
At one time or another, most everybody wonders of the sights our feathered friends enjoy. To be a bird flying high above tree covered hills and swooping low over lakes and meadows, perching high in branches or hopping silently across lawns. The sights they see are thankfully at last within our grasp due to a growing range of flying photographic devices now available. Professional drone photography is still developing, with much footage now making its way into television programmes as these devices offer new images, mostly never seen before. Gardens and landscapes of course are a magnet for such hi-technology, and as a landscape manager, I’ve looked for an opportunity to capture my landscape in such a way. For many organisations however, professional drone footage is reserved for larger, funded filming projects. I’m glad therefore to bring this post with some fresh footage captured recently by one of our latest volunteer recruits to the Compton Verney team; Jan Gillet. We arranged special access for Jan to fly his machine through the grounds. For this session we focused, literally, on the West Lawn area currently referred to as Dan Pearson’s William Morris Meadow. If drone photography is your main focus, then […]
A short article covering basic lessons learned on an Introduction to Scything workshop @ComptonVerney #CVGrounds
This weekend sees the return of organised tree climbing at Compton Verney. Despite a set-back last month when a bee swarm alighted on our favoured London Plane tree, we’re confident for the coming sessions with a choice of two trees now available to the organisers The Great Big Tree Climbing Company. Two highly skilled and friendly instructors can help all ages reach new heights in a fantastic tree at Compton Verney. They will teach you how to enter a tree’s canopy using ropes, knots and karabiners, whilst being securely attached in a harness at all times. Once at the top of the tree you will gain an experience which can’t be found on the ground and if you’re feeling brave try some branch walking before being lowered to the ground ! Each session contains a maximum of eight participants, creating a unique and intimate experience. This Saturday, July 4th. Sessions available from 10:00am to 4:45pm – £18.50 per session + booking fee. Entry to Compton Verney charged separately – free for members and season pass holders. There are still places remaining on the sessions, which can be booked directly with BTCC via the link below. BIG TREE CLIMBING COMPANY – […]
We have been extra busy bees at Compton Verney this last year, here’s our experience of improving a wild flower lawn/meadow.
Heron, great crested grebe, woodpecker & reed warbler @ComptonVerney – Who’d have thought?! #CVGrounds #30DaysWild
Interested in the traditional crafts such as thatching, brick making and stone masonry? Maybe hand crafting things from easily found timber, or wood turning and weaving to create chairs for example? #CVGrounds
Have you signed up for the 30 Days Wild challenge from the Wildlife Trusts? If so then you might like to hear of an evening wildlife event at Compton Verney that would certainly qualify as a random act of wildness – Moths: Butterflies of the Night
I’ve signed up to the Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild challenge – join in today!
Now, Compton Verney’s equivalent to Aidan Turner I can’t promise, but on Tuesday 7th July we’ll be hosting an Introduction to Scything Workshop, an old form of mowing that has so many benefits. Read on for more info!
Edited copy of Anglers E-Bulletin for general information. The 2015/16 angling season for members of the Compton Verney syndicate will begin on 16 June and run to 16 March 2016.
Thought I’d add a quick blog post to let you know that Dan Pearson, the designer for our William Morris wild flower meadow at Compton Verney this year has today been awarded a Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show for the Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden! The garden was also awarded the prestigious Best Show Garden award, and is a real triumph for naturally planted gardens at Chelsea; a style that we know is close to Dan’s heart. The show garden is inspired by Chatsworth’s ornamental Trout Stream and Paxton’s rockery, and if you’re not planning to visit, the garden can be seen on the excellent RHS Chelsea Flower Show coverage tonight at 8pm, and throughout the week. I’m sure this news will be warmly welcomed, a great achievement indeed for Dan and his team, and for the Chatsworth team who are new to the Chelsea show garden arena. We’re now even more thrilled as we look forward to The Dan Pearson and William Morris Meadow that is currently under preparation at Compton Verney – opening from June 27 as part of The Arts and Crafts House exhibition. Great news indeed! Gary Webb, Head of Landscape and Gardens at Compton Verney.
A quick post today after receipt of some images from Alwyn, our resident bird spotter. As part of an outreach project we recently welcomed a group of youngsters to site who were immersed in Compton Verney life for a twenty-four hour period – amongst other things this included a camping experience and bird ringing exercise led by Dr Andrew Gosler, university research lecturer in ornithology and conservation at Oxford University.
Wellingtonia Avenue at Compton Verney a 360 degree experience. #CVGrounds Sequoiadendron giganteum at Compton Verney, more information
– enter a tree canopy using ropes, knots and karabiners
– gain an experience which can’t be found on the ground
– complete a branch walk
We’ve had a few questions about the honey bees at Compton Verney lately, particularly about their condition post winter. Rod has kindly put a few words together as an update, although at this extra busy time of year I’m over a week late posting this to the blog… Please keep this in mind when reading! Spring Update – by Rod Oates
As always, I’m keen to explore ways to bring the grounds at Compton Verney to life for those who aren’t able to visit, and photography offers much potential. You might not be aware that, in addition to the regular Compton Verney twitter and facebook platforms, I use you tube, flickr, twitter and of course this weblog, where you’ll find a range of images and short video clips. Further links at bottom of this post.
It’s been a very, very busy time for the grounds team at Compton Verney of late. I’m glad to report therefore that the lawns are thankfully very slow into grow this year – quite a relief all things considered! We have been
An opportunity presented itself at the end of 2014 to join in with a local effort that would ultimately see the BBC Radio Four Gardeners Question Time team descend for a recording in South Warwickshire. But for the sale of some tickets, relatively little input was required from myself but to join in with the organising committee and help where possible, with the added possibility of some secondary promotion for the landscape and gardens at Compton Verney.
Spring always arrives in a garden with extra demands in terms of activity. The grounds at Compton Verney are no exception, although spring as you’ll quite rightly point out isn’t quite here yet… Activity in the grounds at Compton Verney traditionally slowed for the cooler January and February months, meaning the volunteer team took a well-earned rest, whilst the core staff team of two continued with essential maintenance; preparing for spring. This winter however, there was a willingness to continue with the full team right through the season, and we’ve certainly responded to this and have been very busy! A visual treat to keep us going back in January was the Winter Aconites, which cloaked the ground around the Lime trees on the West Lawn. These however have now given way to our lovely snowdrops that are massed on the bank of the Middle Pool. These will continue in flower for when we open on March 14th. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl8mjWBfnnI]
In June this year we’re looking forward to re-presenting the West Lawn at Compton Verney as the William Morris Wild Flower Meadow, an external element of the Arts and Crafts House exhibition. We’re lucky to have on board leading garden designer Dan Pearson who is designing the meadow, taking for his inspiration a William Morris design. Dan Pearson will be a familiar name to anyone in and around the gardening world, but to others, there’s an opportunity to hear more following Dan’s interview with Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs last weekend. We’re excited to be working with such a respected designer for our exhibition, and with his Chatsworth House inspired Chelsea Flower Show garden also under preparation, it’s sure to be a busy year for Dan. So, for an insight to this designers life and experience, do follow the link for a relaxing and inspiring 45 minutes… BBC Desert Island Discs
Welcome to this ‘November’ article, the eleventh in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two! Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘November – The landscape at Compton Verney’ :
Last week saw a another pruning and sorting session in the Ice House Coppice at Compton Verney and with damp ground all around, we opted to burn in-situ rather than cart all the cuttings through the site – which would have caused much grass disturbance. Naturally the weather played its part and made proceeds ‘interesting’ shall we say, but a good days pruning and burning was had by all. Ahead of us now lies a large scale planting project to continue planting throughout the coppice. The eventual aim is to have tightly manicured shrubberies, with views through, over and around to one focal point or another.
Capturing the wildlife of Compton Verney through a lens is quite challenging, as much of it is so good at blending into the background – being heard but not seen. As soon as we walk through the coppice for example, we can hear the birds making their alarm calls as they move away. It is like having a huge invisible aura that circles a person, an aura that repels birdlife!
Interested in social media and blogging? Check out this summary of statistics (provided by WordPress.com) following another successful blogging year from the grounds team at Compton Verney: Crunchy numbers… This blog was viewed about 8,000 times in 2014. There were 332 pictures uploaded, that’s about 6 pictures per week. The busiest day of the year was July 19th with 222 views. The most popular post that day was In a storm – please don’t shelter beneath trees! In 2014, there were 68 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 126 posts. The most commented on post in 2014 was Finish with a Flourish! Blog visitors came from 64 countries in all, most visitors coming from the U.K. (The United States & Canada were not far behind though!) Blogging can at times be a labour of love, but if you love the place you’re at; there’s always something happening and something to talk about. Making time is the key! Thanks to all who have supported the blog and passed on comments over the last two years – as ever we hope to bring more interesting and diverse stories during 2015! Keep an eye out for the next post in our 2014 month by month […]
Two images received today from our wildlife recorder Alwyn, that I thought you might like to see. Alwyn visits often to record bird life around the grounds and landscape at Compton Verney. Occasionally one or two are caught on camera, and here are two snapped recently. The brightest is of course the Kingfisher, caught with lunch in his beak. The other is a Wren, paused on a shrub within the Ice House Coppice. Images © Alwyn Knapton 2014
Welcome to this ‘October’ article, the tenth in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two! Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘October – The landscape at Compton Verney’ :
Welcome to this ‘September’ article, the ninth in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two! Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘September – The landscape at Compton Verney’ :
Welcome to this ‘August’ article, the eighth in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two! Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘August – The landscape at Compton Verney’ :
Welcome to this ‘July’ article, the seventh in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two! Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘July – The landscape at Compton Verney’ :
Welcome to this ‘June’ article, the sixth in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two! Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘June – The landscape at Compton Verney’ :
Welcome to this ‘May’ article, the fifth in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two! Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘May – The landscape at Compton Verney’ : (Please excuse the extra flower images this month – it’s an extra floriferous time of year!)
Welcome to this ‘April’ article, the fourth in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two! Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘April – The landscape at Compton Verney’ :
Welcome to this ‘March’ article, the third in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two! Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘March – The landscape at Compton Verney’ :
Welcome to this ‘February’ article, the second in a series of posts which aim to review, through photographs, twelve months of activity in and around the diverse landscape of Compton Verney. It’s a historic landscape that has seen much change, from the shaping of the areas as new plants establish to the visual delight gained from one of a number of artistic interactions. There are huge changes in the atmosphere from the busiest of open days to quiet days when just bird song can be heard. Either way, visually the landscape changes minute by minute and it’s wonderful to be there to experience it – and on occasion capture an image or two. Links to other months will be added at the bottom of the page, but for now, I hope you enjoy ‘February – The landscape at Compton Verney’ :
‘January’, the first of a series of photographic posts about the landscape at Compton Verney.
Finishing the year with a Flourish! An article from the Compton Verney grounds team.
Mini post with images of the festive fireworks at Compton Verney 2014
Planting is continuing this winter season in the East Park at Compton Verney, with support as always from Natural England under a countryside stewardship agreement. We’ve also thankfully gained additional financial support from Mercers’. The end result will see more avenue trees, a copse and Capability Brown tree ‘clump’ restored.
I’m glad to say that the team at Compton Verney have received another award, this time for the Best Kept Footpath! Our path runs across the historic East Park, under which lies the ‘Old Town’ of Compton Murdak. The mown public right of way leads walkers through acres of wild flowers and recently planted trees that are forming a new wood pasture. At this time of year the path is a little damp under foot, but the views from the top of the field are certainly worth the trek. For visitors to the gallery, there is also a circular path which is mown to encourage visitors to explore the east park and its views.
Compton Verney offers many things to many people, be it the permanent collections or the present British Folk Art exhibition. There’s also the extremely wide range and offer of educational activities, talks and workshops and a great cafe and restaurant! The outside environment however (as you’d expect if you know Compton Verney) holds other aspects to explore.
They days are passing swiftly by and I’m glad to say that the ground preparation, the first stage of work for the William Morris Meadow is finally complete. After a successful crowd-sourcing period (Art Happens) through the charity Art Fund, we were glad to get stuck into the work, especially as the colder autumn nights were closing in.
On Monday this week I ventured down to the capital for a workshop with a difference, titled New Ways of Looking at Brown. ‘Capability’ Brown was the subject of course, around which we learned from a range of speakers of some of the diverse projects that are springing up, with encouragement from the CB300 festival committee.
It has been a while since the last grounds team update and for good reason – we’ve been too busy! All will be revealed below, but suffice to say that the weather has played a major part, as always, in dictating our work pattern.
Ploughing on regardless, or very nearly! Work on the Dan Pearson / William Morris meadow at Compton Verney gets under-way…
After all: “A weed is just a wild flower in the wrong place”. To present a garden, and in my case a landscape garden in a certain way requires finding a balance, a balance between what we actively plant in terms of ornamentals, but more widely, considering a balance in terms of the ‘weeds’ we retain as wild flowers. Does this make sense?
We have been treated to some lovely mild autumn days recently, the last few in particular preceded by chilly early mornings. The middle and upper pools at Compton Verney respond beautifully to this sort of weather, and Monday this week was one to treasure – thankfully I had a camera with me! Most often
Need I say more, we loved the sculpture too, looks like the sun shone perfectly for your visit 🙂
Stumbled across this lovely post from Compton Verney visitors, hope you like it too!
Excellent article, and great results already with a new volunteer for the grounds team!
I’m glad to report that our west lawn has received its end of season cut, amidst much activity on site. Now part of our ongoing maintenance schedule for the lawn, we aim to carry out this activity each season in the pursuit of a richer wild flower sward – from 2016 we’ll be cutting this area from mid-summer.
Another Compton Verney Grounds event plug from me – however – this one is cost-free, very different from our normal offering and one that I think fits perfectly with our landscape! It is a Tai chi class and demonstration this Saturday morning, September 20th where well practised leaders have use of the landscape, and will aim to run sessions in a number of evocative spaces. Depending on group numbers, leaders will have a host of locations to choose from sculpted, open lawn areas, to intimate spaces sheltered by overhead trees. What a great way to interact with such a wonderful landscape. It is an ideal way for people to try tai chi at a stunning new venue. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact the organisers at the Swan School via the link below, who are happy to talk more about the event. Information direct from organisers flyer: This is an all-weather event run by The Swan School of Tai Chi and Chi Gung, where you can combine the beauty of this Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown designed landscape with the flowing, graceful movements of Tai chi. There is also opportunity to join in future Tai chi classes enjoying the landscape, wildlife and […]
Based largely on verbal feedback from our anglers (which often reaches me second hand!) it would seem that on the whole, anglers are having a fair season so far on the upper pool at Compton Verney. Thankfully however, I have recently received some concrete evidence for catches which might be of interest, as follows: One angler reported an afternoons catch that included fifty-four fish in total, including two roach, one around 6-7 oz, and one bream around 1 lb 4 oz. There has also been a pre-arranged overnight angling session, with a small group sitting out through a relatively mild evening. Some big bream and tench were caught down towards the bridge in the shallower water and a medium-sized carp came out half way along the bank, just where Moore’s Arch artwork was placed. Farther down along the coppice, roach of around 1 to 2 lb were caught very early in the morning.
Glad to spot one of our blog posts featured in the summer edition of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s – Wild Warwickshire magazine. Unsurprisingly, it is a quality magazine packed full of wildlife features, so it’s quite a thrill to see our efforts in wildlife promotion noticed, with a reprint in the magazine.
There are a number of like-minded individuals who follow this blog with a good deal of love and appreciation, not only for landscape gardens but also for architecture. Indeed, most people who visit Compton Verney are acutely aware of the wonderful Robert Adam improved mansion that is reflected in the upper pool. I personally have spent many hours, by default, working around and looking at this, and other impressive Palladian buildings. It is unsurprising therefore that
Welcome to a page of the Compton Verney Landscape Garden blog, providing information about our Wellingtonia trees. Plant name: Sequoiadendron giganteum (synonym: Sequoia gigantea) Commonly known as: Wellingtonia; Giant/Sierra/California Redwood
Discovered the Woodland Play Area at Compton Verney yet? If not, then you may not know what you’re missing!
Yes our last climbing session of the season is being run, (or climbed!) NEXT FRIDAY – 22nd August. Managed on site by The Great Big Tree Climbing Company, the day long activity is broken down into bite-sized hour-long climbing sessions that are perfect for merging in with other features on site – the Woodland Play Area, Willow Tunnel, Nature’s Art Box and of course the Moore Rodin exhibition. There’s seating nearby to picnic, watch the action or take some action photographs. Other locations include Alexandra Palace, the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, and the National Trust’s Anglesey Abbey to name just a few, so we’re delighted the GBTCCo. are dropping by to lead one more day of climbing at our own Compton Verney. (c) Great Big Tree Climbing Company As described on the website: Reach new heights at Compton Verney in our tree climbing activity. Two experts will teach you how to enter a tree’s canopy using ropes, knots and karabiners, whilst being securely attached in a harness at all times. Once at the top of the tree you will see amazing views and gain an experience which can’t be found on the ground. If you’re feeling brave take the zip wire […]
At Compton Verney yesterday I caught sight of a hazel shrub with a branch tip that wasn’t looking quite as it should – a little tattered and torn. On closer inspection the culprits were still at the scene, and what a sight they were.
Fancy trying tree climbing during the summer holidays? Well, not tree climbing in the traditional sense, but with trained climbers, using ropes and harness? Then do read on! THE GREAT BIG TREE CLIMBING COMPANY are returning to Compton Verney next Wednesday to manage a day full of tree climbing. Six individuals at a time are given simple tuition in the techniques that make tree climbing about as easy as it can get. Admittedly, you will need a head for heights, but you’ll be supervised and well cared for throughout.
I popped out for a quick walk around the west lawn at Compton Verney this morning to make a start on our butterfly recording for the big butterfly count. Aside from a wide-brimmed hat and catch net (are these still in use?) I simply wandered with my clipboard and camera – although catching good images would be easier with a zoom lens I think, for every time I got near enough – off they would flutter!
There’s a good chance of more thunderstorms this weekend, and judging by the humidity today; tonight just might be the night. Naturally we’ve all grown up with the message to not shelter beneath trees during storms, but really; how likely is it for lightening to hit trees so close to home? Judging by the evidence at Compton Verney, more likely than many would imagine! The above image shows Compton Verney’s impressive Wellingtonia Avenue, a feature established since the second half of the nineteenth century. Planted to border a new exit towards Kineton, the conifers, now well over a century old are maturing nicely and exhibiting their characteristic down-swept branches and soft bark – features that provide many nesting places for birds, bees alike.
A few recent images following a trip around the East Park at Compton Verney, an area of seventy acres or so, now re-establishing as a wild flower meadow under higher level stewardship agreement with DEFRA. These two fields are settling down beautifully with their light-touch management, which consisted initially of re-seeding with native wild flowers, and an ongoing annual regime of cutting, baling, and autumn grazing. At the peak of summer, pathways are
For just a few hours today Compton Verney became the start and finish venue for the edgehill half-marathon organised by Tempo Events. The runners
For many visitors to Compton Verney the lake, or ‘Upper Pool’ to be more accurate, provides either a familiar vista or a pleasant, some would say dramatic surprise. It is crossed by almost everyone via the ornamental Adam/Sphinx bridge on the way up to the mansion. For our anglers however
Passing through some woodland and in between showers this morning, I stopped suddenly at the sight of a large bird clinging to a chestnut tree. It hadn’t noticed me initially, so I moved in for a better look. It spread its wings a few times but seemed quite content perched there in the shade.
I’m thrilled to bring you news of a new project that could have far-reaching benefits for the grounds and environment at Compton Verney. Landscape and garden designer Dan Pearson is to work with Compton Verney in connection with an exhibition titled ‘The Arts & Crafts House: Then and Now‘ (27 June – 13 September 2015).
At Compton Verney tomorrow, Wednesday 18th June, we’re playing hosts to a Capability Brown Festival Information Day. Although this is a private event, engagement activities will be placed around the grounds from midday onwards – therefore, if you’re wondering which afternoon you should visit this week – Wednesday would be ideal!
Time is fast approaching for our Intermediate Digital SLR Photography Workshop – next Wednesday 11 June, led by Stratford-on-Avon based professional photographer Sally Crane. It’s an opportunity to move your photography to a new level, press that new DSLR into use, or simply refresh your love for landscape and garden photography.
If you’re a regular visitor to Compton Verney, you’ll know something of the diversity the landscape holds. There’s establishing flower borders near the chapel, a long-established woodland garden known as the ice house coppice, acres of wild flower parkland and lawns aplenty. However, have you heard of the family activity trails to help you explore some of that landscape?
A photographic walk to introduce the West Lawn at Compton Verney… More to see than you’d think!
There’s a small community of anglers at Compton Verney who fish all year through but for a rest period from the middle of March to the middle of June. Regulated by a membership, the angling helps to keep a tradition alive that stretches back in one form or another to at least the seventeenth century. Fish caught previously include Common, Mirror and Ghost Carp, Bream, Tench, Roach, Pike, Perch and Gudgeon. What follows is a condensed version of a bulletin that is shared amongst our anglers for interest and update:
Interested in learning more of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and his working ways? Then here is news of an upcoming event organised between the Humanities Research Institute of Buckingham University and Compton Verney. Please note: this is a separate event to the CB300 Information Day.
With so much to do in spring, text heavy blog posts can sometimes be few and far between. What a great opportunity therefore to share some simple images that show off some of the spring flora at Compton Verney. You might have to wander the grounds to see them all, but here’s proof of their presence, at least for the month of April when these images were taken – treasures indeed!
Did we mention how proud we are of the wildlife at Compton Verney? Naturally, with any size plot, there is always space to nurture and enjoy wildlife, but with our larger than average area we have lots more opportunity. We’ve well kept and tidy areas, along with wilder and less intensively managed spaces, woodlands and a large lake for example.
Have you heard about the on-line magazine produced in-house at Compton Verney? If not, there’s no better time than now to flick through its virtual pages, especially as our wonderful grounds feature heavily in this issue – not to mention a small but perfectly formed piece from our long-standing grounds volunteer Jenny! [scribd id=219598344 key=key-2dvoumgncg82rj02afff mode=scroll] Link to ISUU Inside Compton Verney Link to Scribd: Inside Compton Verney
Another short post to say how delighted we all are after the amazing Compton Verney landscape was featured in the current BBC Four program called British Gardens in Time. The episode is the second of four, and featured in the main the landscape of Stowe, a National Trust property near Oxford. Of course our connection is Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who started his head gardening at Stowe before running around the country to improve many more country estates – Compton Verney being one of the finest. I shall let the footage do the talking, which I’ve reduced to specifically highlight the Compton Verney section, but please do take the time to watch the whole episode which is hugely informative and sets the scene for the English Landscape Movement. BBC iPlayer – British Gardens in Time The link is only available for a short time – until 9:59PM Tue, 6 May 2014
A quick post to thank everyone who helped make the tree climbing activity a success today at Compton Verney. A beautiful sunny day from the outset, and it was wonderful to see folks enjoying this very different aspect of the grounds.
In a wooded Warwickshire valley, sitting in silence and a little way back from an old carriage drive, is an oddly shaped yet picturesque building. Obviously from another age, it sits snugly amongst Yew trees with its fully restored lime mortared brickwork and thatched bonnet – the building is an 18th Century Ice House no-less!
Just a short post for grounds and garden focused followers to let you know of a four part series starting this Tuesday on BBC Four, at 9pm: British Gardens in Time. Following a visit from the film crew in November of last year, it is hoped that the landscape of Compton Verney will be featured in some way during episode two, though the focus will be the National Trust’s Stowe Landscape and in some way Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. It may only be a fleeting glimpse, if at all – so do watch closely! A short promo clip for the Stowe episode is available on the following link, but do also tune in for the first episode about the fascinating Great Dixter, which started life as an Arts and Crafts garden. Other episodes will focus on the Victorian Biddulph Grange, and Nyman’s. British Gardens in Time – Stowe
We’ve been out with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust representatives Ben Devine and Sarah Brooks this week around the grounds at Compton Verney, on a mission to
Just a quick post to mention an enjoyable digital SLR photography workshop at Compton Verney last Wednesday which passed effortlessly, led by professional photographer Sally Crane.
Another Compton Verney Grounds Blog post is overdue, and what better occasion than one to mark this blogs first Birthday! Yes it’s hard to believe a year has passed since its launch, but after many articles, lots of comments, likes and shares, and a little over 7000 views, it certainly seems to be worth the extra effort involved. Many thanks for joining in and sharing – long may it continue!
Compton Verney certainly isn’t different from many arts or heritage organisations in that volunteering is crucial to achieving its aims. As a result, and to mark the start of the twenty fourteen season I last week arranged a small gathering of grounds volunteers for cake, catch-up and Capability Brown chat! And where did we meet? The atmospheric (and freshly swept!) gun room! I hasten to add that guns stopped being stored there many, many moons ago!
Picked up a digital SLR camera recently? Keen to move away from auto mode and need guidance on how the other settings work together? Maybe a one day workshop could be the answer we’re both looking for, and funny enough – a workshop is fast approaching! The workshop will take place at Compton Verney on 26th March 2014, to be led by professional photographer Sally Crane. All you need is a DSLR and a packed lunch, although places can be reserved in the restaurant of course.
Do your family enjoy the great outdoors; exploring parks and gardens perhaps? If like me, you like to test your children’s perception and enjoy seeing them discover new things, or maybe you yourself are seeking a new challenge or experience? Then maybe this new event in south Warwickshire could be worth a look…
Some of you might remember the upsetting time at the end of last year when our bees suffered visits from thieves in the night. It was a small enough collection anyway, but unfortunately over the two visits our hives were reduced even further, leaving a much smaller colony to hopefully limp through the winter.
Countdown to Capability Brown 300th Birthday celebrations begin as Festival wins Heritage Lottery Fund support An influential group of organisations, landowners and individuals are one step closer to marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown with a nationwide festival celebrating his life and influence in 2016. The Capability Brown 300 Celebration and Festival has received a first round pass* and will receive £139,200 development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Well what a fascinating week we’ve had! If you follow Compton Verney or myself on twitter, there’s probably no need to tell you that we’ve been rather busy recently helping with the installation of sculpture for our forthcoming exhibition – Moore Rodin; featuring works from English sculptor Henry Moore, and French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It has of course been more than a little challenging due to weather conditions, with heaven sent moisture playing a pivotal role in the process! I have to say however that the installation team involved have so far been very helpful and respectful of our precious grounds. That said, there is some lawn repair work to complete, but very little indeed considering the size of achievement.
Do you have an interest in Gardens? Maybe you’ve an appreciation for the English Landscape? You might even have a passing interest in the History of our Green and Pleasant Land… If the bold type strikes a note, and you’d like to learn a little more about each and any of the above, for free, then a perfect opportunity could exist for you on March 29th 2014 – literally just over the horizon!
Spring is an amazingly busy time in the great outdoors – bulbs and herbaceous plants send up shoots, trees and shrubs burst into bud, and lawns raise their level as quick as we can mow. Compton Verney, being a long established landscape and garden features many such plants and spaces of special interest, I have therefore assembled a short video to show just a little of what you could expect to see during a spring visit. Enjoy a minute or so of our spring landscape and garden: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yosIfLCTy70]
Welcome to a page of the Compton Verney Landscape Garden blog, featuring a Fact Sheet for our Common Lime trees. Plant name: Tilia x europaea (synonym: Tilia x vulgaris)
A glorious sunny morning greeted us today which is very welcome following some of the lacklustre starts we’ve experienced of late. Whilst the grounds remain closed to visitors, the grounds team itself remain as busy as ever working through some of those tasks that have to bend and sway with the fluctuating weather – the wet soil being the key decider.
There is just a few metres across the west lawn at Compton Verney a stately grove of Lime trees, set a midst the lawn. In early January, when Compton Verney staff return to work following their Christmas break, we’re always drawn across to this grove to see a wonderful, expansive blanket of yellow flowers. Winter Aconites are the magnet, and they appear at Compton Verney from the earliest days of the new year through to February. It is a little beauty of a flower that keeps low to the ground, and
Common Oak – a Fact Sheet from Compton Verney.
January – Although snow came and went through to March, this early helping kept us more than busy clearing the lengthy drives for staff and residents + a little modelling too!
Welcome to a page of the Compton Verney Landscape Garden blog, featuring a Fact Sheet for our Cedar of Lebanon trees. Plant name: Cedrus libani (Pinaceae family) Commonly known as: Cedar-of-Lebanon
Considering Compton Verney at other times of the year, are you one of those who likes to lie back on the lakeside grassy banks and enjoy the sunshine? Or do you prefer to stroll around the vast East Park to enjoy the wider scene? Or maybe you prefer to pause on a bench at the foot of the mansion wall? If so you might be surprised to see how the gardens and landscape are transformed under snowy conditions, and for this reason, especially during our present closed season at Compton Verney, I thought it worth reaching back to some January 2013 images collected over a couple of personal visits to check the condition of the grounds. To set the scene, the main roads were passable each time, but beyond this minor routes and private estate tracks remained under snow. Temperatures were below freezing with an icy breeze, and a sparkling carpet of insulation concealed the varied ground beneath….
You may recall mention of a brief appearance at the Maison Française in Oxford, as a panel member for a discussion on the role of gardeners and stewards in designed landscapes. Quite a wide discussion was enjoyed by all I trust, with much audience participation in a subject that clearly has much more scope for future exploration. A very knowledgeable collection of speakers gave illustrated talks, as follows: The Serviceable Ghost; the Forgotten Role of the Gardener in England from 1630 to 1730. Speaker: Sally O’Halloran, Sheffield University William Speechly and the Scope of Estate Gardening at Welbeck, Nottinghamshire in the later 18th century. Speaker: Susanne Seymour, Nottingham University Surveying the Prospect: Landowners and Poets in the Eighteenth-Century Country House Poem. Speaker: Clare Bucknell, All Souls College, Oxford Following these excellent presentations, Glyn Jones (Hidcote Manor), Nick Lightfoot (The Vyne), Barry Smith (Stowe) and myself took questions about the present role of gardeners and stewards. For interested folk, the link below connects to the MFO web page where podcasts for each presentation can be found, along with one for the gardeners question session – I would add that due to microphone issues, the gardeners session only lasts approximately 30 minutes – but a grand 30 […]
Although our gates are closed to general visitors for a month or so, activity continues apace in and around the grounds. More of these goings-on in a forthcoming post, for now I hope to bring a shot of colour to the generally gloomy December days we are presently experiencing. I count myself amongst the luckiest of people, being able to work at such a special location; dripping with character, packed with variety and full of rich colour – especially so in autumn. Before the memory of autumn is completely replaced by the festive glow, I thought I’d bring together a selection of images taken whilst out and about at Compton Verney. A link at the foot of this post links to these, and more images in the form of a video. Enjoy!
In early November, an isolated area of the grounds at Compton Verney received a visit from thieves in the night intent on removing, unbelievably, our two bee hives. A link at the bottom of the page describes that nocturnal visit, but this post is to bring news of a second visit where thieves aimed to remove the one remaining bee hive.
I am honoured to have been invited by Laurent Châtel to the Maison Française d’Oxford tomorrow to represent Compton Verney in a seminar titled: The Figure in the Estate – The Rôle of Gardeners and Stewards in the Designing of Landscapes. The seminar is open to visitors, please click on the link above for more information. The seminar is taking place between 10:45am and 4:30pm at the Norham Road base, and from a garden and landscape history perspective, it looks to be a fascinating day. Key players in the line up are Sarah Law and Susanne Seymour, Nottingham University, Sally O’Halloran, Sheffield University and Clare Bucknell, All Souls College, Oxford. Towards the end of the day, I shall be joining Glyn Jones (Hidcote), Nick Lightfoot (The Vyne), and Barry Smith (Stowe), in a discussion titled: ‘From The National Trust Head gardener’s Point of View : Current Practice – Consensus or Dissensus?‘ Of course, I shall be trying my best to hold a candle up to Compton Verney, moreso in the presence of such notable National Trust gardeners – wish me luck! Gary Webb, Head of Landscape and Gardens, Compton Verney
A short video from the grounds team, showing the making of a Christmas Wreath for Compton Verney. The mansions portico is decorated each November with four large Christmas trees between the columns, with the wreath positioned centrally above the Adam Hall doors. The video will explain more, but I hasten to add that the wreath and video is an amateur production – so please be kind! Don’t forget you can see the wreath, trees and more by visiting one of our Winter Weekends – 7th and 8th, and 14th and 15th December 2013 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvt52lsiQzE&w=420&h=315]
Its another time of year when grounds teams across the land get creative and join in with decorating their properties in the name of Christmas. OK, so it’s only mid November, but with temperatures lowering, nights drawn-in, and festive adverts on TV; we can’t hold it back much longer! l Here’s just a few teasing images to show that the #CVGrounds team are getting festive too, but naturally, we like to do things that little bit differently at Compton Verney. The grounds team have put aside the planting for the time being, thought long and hard whilst sipping our gardeners tea, and have hopefully come up with something a little different this year. Our portico trees have today been lifted into position, and even with mechanical assistance from our neighbouring farmer, I can confirm that they certainly put up a fight! They’re a popular addition to the front of the mansion, and look so beautiful that we just can’t deviate from this decorative approach, but inside the mansion…. We have gone for something altogether more natural – well sort of! Yes it is a little different, but the initial response from visitors is very positive – thankfully! […]