Landscape & Garden Update – 13.06.17
Welcome to the Landscape & Garden Update – 13.06.17.
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.
On the up-side of the extra growth of course is the extra vigour of the wild flower areas, of which we have many acres. The vast Old Town Meadow and East Park fields are getting to that swaying stage when each drift of wind brushes across large areas of meadow grass, like the ebb and flow of the ocean waves – it’s a real treat to lean on the parkland railing for a while to soak up such a calming scene. We continue to mow a circular walk around this field, which can be easily found by using one of the pedestrian gates between the Ice house and the Adam Bridge. If you do find opportunity to get out into Old Town Meadow, do let me know if you see a Bee Orchid – we’d love to have a confirmed sighting.
Across the West Lawn, (just behind the main house) is the meadow area that we improved for the 2015 Arts & Crafts exhibition with Dan Pearson. Here the floral content continues to evolve with a much stronger show this year of my favourite Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) as well as Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense). The Yellow Rattle is also showing its worth, suppressing some of the more vigorous meadow grasses. We’ll be aiming to cut and bale the meadow areas towards the second half of July/early August depending on conditions, so please do make your way across and through this wonderful wild flower area.
Over the coming weeks the grounds team including volunteers will be trimming the many and varied hedges across the park. From sculptural box pruned into cloud shapes to the many native species hedges; we’ll be looking to sharpen those blades and tidy each hedge in turn. One tip if you’re looking to cut your hedge soon is to watch out for wasp nests. They’ll be very active now and we often stumble across a nest or two each year stuck to the inside of a hedge. As beautiful as they may be it can be quite a shock, not to mention painful should we pass the hedge cutter over a nest!
Elsewhere we’re busy mapping some of our trees, collecting data on a hand held device that helps us to manage more effectively the tree collection at Compton Verney. It is a slow process as you can imagine, spending a few minutes with each tree, but a worthwhile process nonetheless and one that will help us to become more efficient as we move forward.
There’s a degree of wildlife focus in the media just now with BBC Springwatch in its final week (based locally in the Cotswolds,) and with the Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild initiative rolling on for the remainder of June. Wildlife is of course very active across the park at Compton Verney right now, some of which is occasionally captured through the camera lenses of our volunteer nature spotters. The Orange-tip butterfly pictured above was clicked by Arthur Owens, and forms one of many records that are helping us to build a better picture of the park, or more specifically; the species that live in or depend on it for their survival.
Below is a Wheatear spotted by Alwyn Knapton in early May, and even though it was only passing through, we’re conscious of the habitat we’re offering and wish to continue to enhance the offer to this and other visiting wildlife.
Do you remember the Fifties Allotment from last year, and are you wondering what’s happening to it now? With the area being so popular last year we were keen to retain this little area of horticultural focus in some way. After considering a number of ideas, we have for the foreseeable future decided to keep the area active, and have therefore planted up many of our home-grown shrub and tree seedlings for growing-on. In addition to this we have recently cleared out the old Café border (to make way for the new Pigment Garden,) and have temporarily relocated many of the spare plants to the allotment for safe keeping.
We’re still growing a few vegetables and flowers of course, so if you’re touring the West Lawn footpath do feel free to pop in and rest on the bench for a while to enjoy our efforts!
A Labyrinth Grows
The grounds team tested their gardening talent recently with the installation of a new improved labyrinth feature. After a successful trial in 2016 a new location was chosen at the very end of the Wellingtonia Avenue where the labyrinth could take center stage between the towering Wellingtonia trees.
A bronze form of Carex comans was selected both for its resilience and perfect colour match to the trees nearby. All the plants have been planted and mulched and are already showing good growth. We stopped short of group hugs but the input from both staff and volunteers was incredible— huge thanks and virtual hugs all-round to the team!
We hope the new Labyrinth will establish as a center of activity for those seeking a moment of contemplation, mindfulness and time out from a busy day. It’s very easy: just pause for a while; then follow the path walking slowly to the middle; turn about and retrace your steps. Simple, calming and restorative. (Of course there is much more to a labyrinth than a simple walk, and we’re looking forward to interpreting the deeper meaning and use of labyrinth in due course).
You will find the labyrinth at the very end of the Wellingtonia Avenue and beyond the Woodland Play Area. You’ll also discover our new bespoke bench created to accompany the labyrinth courtesy of Warwickshire College students.
For visiting information, head to the main website – click here.
Hoping to see you around, in the mean time, do web-search #CVgrounds to see the latest grounds images we have been sharing!
Regards, Gary – Head of Landscape and Gardens.