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Heritage Volunteering Online Portal launched

A really useful website for volunteering in and around south Warwickshire. Hopefully the site will be useful when I need to recruit for future Capability Brown Tercentenary activities, where there’ll be volunteer opportunities for landscape interpretation. Watch this space!

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Spotted and Potted – Grounds Update October 28 2013

I’m relieved to report that at least as far as Compton Verney’s grounds are concerned, the damage expected from the overnight storm hasn’t materialised. Most of the leaves are left on the trees, much as last week, and although a little damp underfoot, the grounds are largely back to normal – and awaiting your visit!

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Georgian Weekend Revelry

Now that the dust has settled, if not the post event gossip, I thought it worth adding a short post about the Georgian Weekend we enjoyed at the end of September. In the very least, I hope the photographs might paint a picture of the general revelry we enjoyed over the weekend.

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Bee Keeping @ComptonVerney 2013

So, with the season drawing to a close we’ve had a chat to our resident volunteer beekeeper, Rod Oates, for a review of the season. Beekeeping was introduced to Compton Verney at the end of April this year with the purchase of a nucleus – essentially a small colony of bees consisting of five frames on which there was a queen, some brood and worker bees. This nucleus was placed in a wooden hive situated to the west of the grounds.

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Barn Owl Boxes are Go!

We recently ventured out and across the East Park at Compton Verney, on a long-awaited mission to place our new barn owl boxes into position. We’ve opted for two boxes at present, the location chosen carefully to offer protection from the worst of the winter weather, along with ease of access for barn owls. Additionally, the location is far enough away from main woodland areas to avoid occupation by squirrels, and from roads to avoid owl collision with vehicles – we hope.

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Georgian Weekend is here!

The time has arrived for our Georgian Weekend at Compton Verney! Inside our beautiful mansion, the Mannered Mob are decked out in very stylish Georgian attire, with displays of embroidery, and medical equipment that may or may not turn ones stomach! Elsewhere, in our elegant Robert Adam designed hall, the group are playing enchanting music on period instruments and engaging visitors (who dare!) with Georgian dancing and singing. Outside, in the mellow

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Pop-up Bird Hide

An update to show a new way for us to engage with wildlife on-site at Compton Verney – a bird hide. Not the traditional one I hasten to add, but a pop-up camouflage hide! Our purchase was supported and made possible by NFU, who also funded

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Heritage Open Day Tours

Just a quick peek at the landscape view we were enjoying as part of our Heritage Open Days East Park Tours these past two days. This brings to a close Compton Verney’s involvement in HODs for this year, but I know there are many other venues available this weekend so please check the Heritage Open Days website where you’ll be able to search on locations near to you. Compton Verney will of course be open as usual, and there’s still time to see the current exhibition – Turner and Constable: Sketching from nature. Tomorrow I’ll be away visiting other Heritage Open Day events, picking up tips and inspiration. Many thanks to all who showed interest and gave encouragement for our tours; I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope to return with more next year. Gary  

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A Georgian Weekend Gardener

Well, of all the things… There I was being all supportive for a forthcoming ‘Georgian Weekend’ at Compton Verney, when a comment sprang forth from my lips: what about costumed people in the grounds, as well as in the mansion? And several months later, I find myself in the costume department of the Royal Shakespeare Company… Eeek – when will I learn to keep quiet!!

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Heritage Open Days – East Park Tours

Another new step for the grounds team – Heritage Open Days! More specifically, we’ll be stepping in the direction of the East Park at Compton Verney, an area yet to be conquered with general grounds walks. The Heritage Open Days offer will be one tour each morning on the 12th and 13th of September. Each tour will be free to join, but we are limited to 20 people per tour so please book ahead – and soon! To book or ask further questions, please contact gary.webb@comptonverney.org.uk or call 01926 645 535

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Landscape & Garden Photography

Landscape & Garden Photography Do you have a Digital SLR camera and enjoy landscape, gardens and architecture? If so, do spare a minute as I bring you news of a creative venture at Compton Verney. We have connected with respected Stratford-Upon-Avon based photographer Sally Crane who will lead a workshop titled ‘Beginners’ Digital SLR Photography’.  The workshop will involve explanation and practical demonstration, where Sally will guide you through the basics of light, aperture, shutter speed, ISO and composition. Skills can be put into practice with informal walks into the grounds, where you’ll be able to take inspiration from the beautiful landscape, gardens and architecture of Compton Verney. All participants will need to provide is a digital SLR camera, batteries charged and ready to go! Saturday 19th October 2013 Tickets: £65 to book call 01926 645 500 Compton Verney Website and Information – Click Here About Sally Crane – Click Here

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A Thinking Gardener…

A few observations as I travel through the grounds of Compton Verney before work… Those clumps of Lily of the Valley I brought from home last year are establishing well, I wonder how far they will spread across the corner near the visitor lodge. The shrubs we planted the season before last however have good-sized cracks in the soil around them; just like the parkland soil last week. The plants are OK, but we’ll need some rain soon or they’ll need a good soak…

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An Afternoon Snack…

Spotted on a Sunny August afternoon in the grounds at Compton Verney, munching their way through a weedy goat willow: Lesser willow sawfly larvae, or Nematus pavidus we believe.

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New Queen Bee

I bumped into beekeeper Rod on Wednesday who had an update on our newly installed bee hives at Compton Verney, particularly the latest colony to be added into the second hive. In short, the new queen hasn’t fared particularly well, having become weaker over the last few days, and a new queen bee has become necessary to boost an otherwise failing colony. In light of this, Rod had a good chat with our friends over at ‘Honey Bee Suppliers’, who immediately responded by offering to send out a new queen bee, who is pictured below having just arrived in her postal transport case! It’s hard to believe that bees travel by post, but as one tweeter mentioned it is Royal Mail after all! It’s hard to see in this image, but she has a little dot of red paint on her back, none harming I hasten to add, so that she may be easily identified and checked when finally introduced into the hive. Let us hope that she settles in quickly and heads up the colony in style! Hive one I have to say is doing extremely well, and we’re looking forward to harvesting some honey shortly. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that the […]

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Bee Keeper Visit Thursday 25th July

Compton Verney’s bees have certainly been enjoying the hot sunny whether we’ve been having. Our ladies have been hard at work foraging – collecting pollen to feed the brood and nectar to convert into honey. On Thursday our volunteer beekeepers – Rod Oates and Tanya Weaver – went over to see how our two hives are doing. The first hive has been in place a few months now and the colony is thriving. Our second has only been in place a week but that small colony seem to be settling into their new home nicely. The first colony really amazed Rod and Tanya. The bees have filled two supers full of honey and are well into filling a third. These supers will be removed soon and the honey extracted. This is exciting news as we are not far away from harvesting our very own Compton Verney honey! There could be as many as 50 jars from just this one colony and there could be more to come. Rod holding up a frame of honey from one of the supers in the first hive. The second colony is far smaller. It is a nucleus of bees (which basically means a queen bee […]

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Small Tortoiseshell

We’ve seen these fluttering around the buildings and grounds at Compton Verney for the last few days, but they’ve always moved away before a clear identification could be managed. Today however

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Red Kite

Spotted by a number of us above our east park fields this week, and captured by the camera of Alwyn Knapton was this amazing Red Kite. For more information on Red Kite click here  or more information on bird species at Compton Verney – click here

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Beech Tree Downfall

The link below is to a video showing the felling of a mature beech tree in the grounds of Compton Verney. The tree previously had the crown branches removed to reduce weight on the stem, which was had been seriously weakened by the fungus Ganoderma adspersum. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vi6XGr2p6lw&w=420&h=315] The stump will be cleaned up and left in-situ to act as a visual reminder to the spot where this significant tree once stood – believed to be approaching 200 years old. A new beech tree has been planted on the edge of woodland nearby, amongst many other trees.

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Ruby-tailed Wasp

Wildlife spot today, 12th July 2013 in the Ice House Coppice at Compton Verney – a superb image of a Ruby-tailed wasp. Snapped by local wildlife photographer Ed Phillips on specialist macro equipment, he is especially pleased with the result as they are often difficult to photograph due to their active lifestyle! Take a look at another image from Ed, this time a Six Spot Burnet Moth  and do drop by the Compton Verney Grounds Blog again as we hope to add more images as time goes by.

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Walnut Blisters

Gardening types with an eye for trees, or more accurately those who know when they see something that isn’t right, might spot something a little peculiar on route from our car park to the mansion/gallery of Compton Verney. For, situated near the beautiful ornamental sphinx/Adam bridge is a mature Walnut tree with a difference. Many of the leaves this year are deformed with a condition commonly known as Walnut Blister Mite. As the image shows, the blisters form randomly across the foliage, the underside of which feature fine white or lightly coloured hairs. Not too problematic on further investigation it seems, for the fruiting quality/quantity is said to be unaffected, but the blisters will change colour later to be more noticeable. Tiny mites called Eriophyes erineus, or Phytotus tristriatus is the cause of the blister, which sucks sap from the underside of the leaf causing the reaction we can all see. Control or intervention isn’t necessary. If you want to take a closer look, the foliage overhangs the footpath on approach to the bridge.

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Common Toad

Wildlife spot on Monday 8th July, a Common Toad. Spotted, along with around five others making their way clumsily across the west lawn at Compton Verney, moving from the longer wildflower grass area. Common toad – Bufo bufo. Other wildlife posts of interest: Bird species at Compton Verney Six Spot Burnet Moth

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A buzzy attraction during the Grounds Weekend

What a fantastic sunny weekend to host a Grounds Weekend. We had pretty much wall to wall sunshine – great news for both humans and bees. Fellow volunteer beekeeper Rod Oates was manning our bee display, which was set out near our hives, on Saturday June 29th and I came over on Sunday to

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Six Spot Burnet Moth

Wildlife spot today in the East Park meadow area, both stunning images taken today and kindly supplied by local wildlife photographer Ed Phillips. Six Spot Burnet Moth Zygaena filipendulae

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CB300 – Capability Brown Tercentenary 2016

For landscape, garden and history supporters, an exciting year is on the horizon as Twenty Sixteen will mark three hundred years since the birth of our most famous gardener – Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Many estates across the land will be looking to host events as we move towards and through 2016, in an effort to build interest and awarness for this fascinating ‘place-maker’ or garden designer. Compton Verney in particular plans to draw focus toward its landscape garden, a beautifully formed example of an eighteenth century English landscape garden, a natural style of landscaping that Brown is well known for. Over two hundred landscapes nationwide bear the mark of Brown and to ensure a unified and consistent approach, a group formed in 2012 with the aim of representing the interests of us all, the group will be working under the title of CB300. The scope is very wide but essentially the CB300 committee aim to coordinate and encourage events as we move towards and through the tercentenary year. Individuals within the group represent many of our best known heritage and tourism organisations, and the group is supported by many individuals from independant landscapes and gardens. I understand a central website for the tercentenary group is under construction, and when this goes live I’ll be sure […]

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Compton Verney Survey

A quick post this may be but one that could mean a great deal to the landscape and garden that surrounds the art gallery that is Compton Verney. We’re currently preparing a bid for Heritage Lottery Funding, and as key stakeholders your thoughts can be critical as we develop our plans to restore and re-invigorate the landscape. We are asking the Heritage Lottery Fund for £2.46 million to help with this project to restore our ‘Capability’ Brown chapel and to bring back to life more elements of our landscape for our visitors – we therefore need to know what you think! PLEASE help us by taking a few minutes to fill this on-line survey. Click Here

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Grounds Weekend – Day One!

A few images snapped whilst out and about in the grounds on the first day of our Grounds Weekend at Compton Verney. 29th June 2013     Grounds Weekend visiting information – Click Here Further event information on Grounds Blog – Click Here  

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Birds & Bees @ComptonVerney

Have you caught the whispers about a grounds event that is happening at Compton Verney this weekend? Arranged by our learning team, the event does I’m glad to say put our amazing landscape and garden firmly in the spotlight, with a specific focus on flying wildlife – or birds and bees to bee precise (last bee pun… maybee…you have been warned!)

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Bird Species at Compton Verney 2013

Thanks to the volunteer bird enthusiast Alwyn Knapton, a member of the British Trust for Ornithology, I’m glad to bring you our most up-to-date list of bird species to be seen in the landscape and gardens of Compton Verney.

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Compton Verney Award for Wildlife Conservation

Earlier this week I popped across to Moreton Morrell College, part of the successful Warwickshire College group to meet with staff and students on a special occasion. The event, also being enjoyed by many proud parents was the college annual awards ceremony.

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Bee Update – June 22 2013

Just under two months ago I wrote about our newly installed bee hives at Compton Verney. I’m glad to say the bees have not only settled in well but are positively thriving! Regular updates from Rod our volunteer beekeeper have kept me aware of progress, and the whole process is captivating I have to say. On a number of occasions I’ve

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Flora, a June Selection from Compton Verney.

A small selection of flower images of plants to be found in the first half of June 2013 around the Landscape and Gardens of Compton Verney. Horse Chestnut in the ice house coppice area: Persian Lilac in the ice house coppice:

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Grass Happy at Compton Verney!

The past two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind to be fair, the team having been reduced by 50% due to some well deserved annual leave. Negatively, much has needed to be put on hold during this time as the demands of the season call for grass cutting; and lots of! On the positive side however, I’ve been forced into spending much more time out in the grounds so as not to fall behind with mowing, time that I’ve cherished.

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Warwickshire – Compton Verney

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Split Willow, Cowslips & a Bat Box?!

Just a quick post to thank visitors who ventured out around the grounds over the bank holiday weekend; the weather was kind with blue sky and fluffy clouds passing briskly over our grassy East Park and Lake. If you did visit and snap any photographs – do mail them in, facebook or tweet them to @Comptonverney or #CVGrounds and we’ll share the love!

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New Carp!

An icy day in early March saw our first delivery of fish to the lake known as middle pool, at Compton Verney. Six good-sized Carp were introduced breathing new life into the lake; the first introduction of new stock for many years. Andrew Ellis, a fisheries consultant arrived nice and early with the precious cargo and wasted no time introducing them to us before seeing them off safely into the lake. They were keen to go off and explore, and I guess that is most likely the last time I shall see them! In addition to the new introductions was the first application of calcium carbonate to the middle pool in an attempt to raise the pH (the pool was measured as being slightly acidic last year.) Andrew is a firm believer of the benefits of calcium carbonate treatment and has used this method on many occasions elsewhere to great effect. The application is of course a trial at Compton Verney and could need repeating over many seasons before we see any visible results. However, I’m assured that even this first treatment will cause action in the depths of the lake by triggering the break down of detritus. Although the lake is large, it is slow-moving, and we can only hope that the through-flow doesn’t negate the effect of […]

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Poplar Hawk-moth

A momentary pause beside the visitor lodge at Compton Verney left us wide-eyed at this beautifully formed, if common moth. A Poplar Hawk-moth by name, or Laothoe populi. It was spotted on May 20th as it rested, blending in with the wooden doorframe. Its appearance at Compton Verney shouldn’t be a complete surprise, as with a little further investigation, it appears our nearby stand of Poplar trees, just beyond our car park is the main host plant for the species! Wikipedia Link Poplar Hawk-moth UKMoths Link – Poplar Hawk-moth

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Day of a Thousand Plugs

Out in the grounds at Compton Verney tomorrow, we’re playing host to a group of volunteers on behalf of Give & Gain Day 2013. This is an international day of employee volunteering which for the 2012 day saw over 19,000 volunteers from 391 companies take part, for the benefit of over 339 community groups. It is the UK’s biggest day of Employee volunteering.

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Grounds Tour

Interested in gardens, art, plants or landscape history? Or are you planning a visit to view Compton Verney’s stunning collections and exhibitions? You may be interested to hear that whilst on site, you can join me, head of landscape and gardens for a one hour tour of the grounds where I’ll talk about all of the above and more. We shall be walking around the lawns and through the restored path network of the wooded ice house coppice, where I shall describe and point out the key historical development of the grounds, lost and restored features, and of course our valuable plants and wildlife. The grounds tour is a great opportunity to see another, very different side to this magnificent arts venue. Tours are on the first Thursday of each month, at 1:30pm, and are available free to members or for visitors who purchase a collection and grounds ticket – please sign up at ticket desk on arrival. Do come along and show your support for the grounds. I very much look forward to seeing you on the next tour! You can also pick up on our occasional tweets via the Compton Verney Twitter page – just search on #CVGrounds  Gary Webb Head of Landscape and Gardens For […]

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Bees arrive at Compton Verney

I’m glad to announce the arrival of honey bees to the grounds at Compton Verney! It has taken a while to get to this stage, but we’re all thrilled to be doing our little bit in support of the ailing bee population, and whilst we’re starting with just two hives, we’re hopeful that we can expand, adding more hives in due course. Naturally, the news of bees on site brings gasps of admiration from some, and horror from others; especially those wary of being stung. I can say however that care and attention has been given to selection of a good site that offers protection of people and bees – we shall of course be watching the bees very carefully to see how they settle down. Today the colony was collected from a bee farm by Rod and Val Oates, two of our volunteer beekeepers and transported to site in a sealed container. Once checked the colony and its queen were transferred to their new home; in a distant corner of the west lawn. The bees are due more attention over the coming days to ensure the settle into their new home, but initial signs were good as they flew out to explore […]

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Seeing the woods..and the trees

Forest School at Compton Verney is going from strength to strength. I really do hope that this element of the grounds continues to grow, as I believe it has so much potential. Forest School offers a really special experience to youngsters, engaging them with woodlands in many exciting ways. Gary Webb.

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Crab Spider

Don’t panic – it is tiny, I promise! The cool temperatures pushing right through April has slowed the appearance of wildlife, insects in particular. Fortunately, things are now improving and Ed Phillips, a local wildlife photographer wasted no time in visiting our grounds to search through the undergrowth for anything of interest, with his specialist macro zoom camera. Many of Ed’s photographs are insects so tiny, that it’s often a case of snap first and identify later. Luckily, on this occasion, Ed has managed a confirmation for the image below, which we believe to be a philodromid crab spider. It is approximately 5 to 6mm across, and is seen resting on a daffodil flower bulb amongst undergrowth at Compton Verney. Flora & Fauna at Compton Verney Ed Phillips Wildlife

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Compton Verney Country Garden Fair – A quick review!

I thought I’d assemble a short post to show my appreciation for all the hard work and support that people gave towards our first Country Garden Fair at Compton Verney. I’m relieved to say it was a success, and all ran smoothly.

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Country Garden Fair

Saturday 20th April is the date we’re waiting for at Compton Verney, for this is our first attempt at a new venture that we hope grows and grows – A Country Garden Fair! The idea for the fair was born following a succesful Textile Fair in 2012, which proved a hit amongst our members and visitors. In line with the character and grandeur of the mansion, we chose for our first Country Garden Fair to keep the main focus once again in the splendid Adam Hall, and have attracted a line up of quality suppliers from around the area, all selling goods themed to the event title – be prepared however, there may be some unexpected surprise sellers! Potential suppliers were given an option to choose an inside or outside location, and we’re happy to announce that two stalls in particular will be featured in the courtyard beneath the columns of the mansion portico selling a range of plant material – so for those looking to take away some leafy goods for the garden; there will be sufficient opportunity. We’re keen to try new ventures here at Compton Verney, and the Country Garden Fair is certainly that, but please remember […]

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Green Machines

We were greeted this particular Monday morning by nice sunny weather at Compton Verney. However, whilst it would have been a great day for grass maintenance, the grounds team were booked in for an away day to our nearby neighbours – the National Trust site of Charlecote Park. It would be very easy to slip into the historical links between Compton Verney and Charlecote, especially the Capability Brown connection, but for this post I shall stay with the reason for the invite; which was for a day’s testing of ‘Green’ garden machinery. A range of property teams from across the region had been invited to a trial day which had been arranged in association with Sally Drury on behalf of Horticulture Week magazine – the industry standard magazine for garden and grounds maintenance professionals. The key reason for the day was to put a number of manufacturers machines together in one location, to compare and obtain feedback from a range of operators – a kind of Top Gear special for gardeners but without the attitude! ‘Green’ machines refreshingly were the central focus, battery powered items were therefore the order of the day. We’ve a small but effective range of petrol/diesel fuelled machines at Compton Verney, and with our […]

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Bat Night

Just a short post this morning to mention a succesful Bat Night at Compton Verney. The event was organised by the in-house Learning Team and was fully booked for an engaging early evening presentation, followed by a grounds walk to locate bats. The evening was led by Sean Neill who represents both Warwickshire Bat Group and the Bat Conservation Trust. Sean talked and displayed images of the many bats to be found throughout the world, including the surprisingly large ‘Flying Fox’, and the gasp inducing ‘Vampire Bat’, both of which enjoy much warmer climes than our own. Much attention was given to the eighteen species of bat to be found in the UK, and particularly to those types most likely to be found on site. The most prominent species at Compton Verney are Pipistrelle’s and Daubentons, but we’ve also recorded Noctule, Long Eared and Lesser Horseshoe bats on occasion – it’s a little known fact that whilst gallery and learning centre spaces are kept clean and tidy, loft spaces above are preserved as roost sites for bats. Provision was made during the restoration of the buildings, including the addition of specially constructed bat entrances to the loft spaces, which were also sealed off from general access. During our bat night, as the hot chocolate and information was consumed, the light outside faded, at which point we zipped up […]

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Easter Weekend

It’s been a particularly tough week for outdoor workers of late with that chilly east wind dropping the temperatures below freezing even during the daytime, but with Easter and the open season upon us we’ve carried on regardless. By this date we would normally have cut the lawns a few times, spruced up planted areas and would be ‘simply’ blowing the paths of debris each day prior to opening. This year however the winter season refuses to let go, and keeps giving us snow and ice to deal with! At the start of this week the grounds team were busy clearing drives of snow and ice, but thanks to the drying if chilly breeze; we did manage to move onto other tasks as the week progressed. Some of the benches have enjoyed a winter spruce up to keep them lichen and algae free, coppice prunings have been tidied away and stored for re-use, and the courtyard gravel has been levelled and re-levelled following the necessary snow shovelling with the tractor last Saturday. The sunshine is threatening to peek through over Easter, and I hope it brings warmer temperatures for our weekend visitors. It may still be a little cool to sit outdoors, but we’ve been busy in many areas of the grounds, which are all set for the season ahead. The last of the Snowdrops are […]

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Closed due to weather

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Compton Verney Grounds Blog

Welcome to the first post from our eagerly awaited Compton Verney Grounds Blog! This blog is a new venture for the grounds team from spring 2013 and the main objective is to post information about the grade II* listed landscape and garden surrounding the art gallery – Compton Verney. I do hope that the blog will not only become a device for us to share interesting facts, photographs and information, but will also become a place for people to visit and ask questions about the grounds and our work in caring for them. I’m also personally hoping that the blog will us me to show you how We shall try to make each article accurate, informative and worthwhile, and will be looking to add approximately two posts per month. Having said this, other duties may need to take priority during busy periods, so please keep with us if we drift a little now and then! In between posts, you may wish to follow @ComptonVerney on twitter, where you’ll pick up occasional tweets and images from us with the hashtag #CVgrounds Posts will be assembled by grounds staff and volunteers on many aspects of the landscape and gardens at Compton Verney, including: planting, […]

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