A Busy Summer- An Update from Compton Verney’s Landscape Manager
At the end of a busy summer we start the harvesting of our meadows here at Compton Verney. We like to leave it as late as possible to ensure the seeds have all dispersed with the wind or dropped to the ground to add to the plant diversity. The optimum time for this is mid to late August.
For best results the grass must be cut and bailed. Removing all the year’s growth effectively starves the wildflowers and creates an environment in which they can thrive. It also ensures we don’t over feed the grass species which could then overpower the more delicate flowering plants if we don’t keep the nutrients low. It is a balance that can often be tipped in the favour of dominant weed species which can result in an unattractive and untidy meadow often over populated with dock and ragwort.
We have high numbers of the parasitic plant Yellow Rattle which is a good indicator of a healthy wild flower meadow. Early orchids are also slowly forming a decent sized colony near the lake edge. Rarities like this must be encouraged with a cutting regime designed for their benefit.
Our contractor always has one eye on the weather and as I write the showers are continuing. Every couple of days the 90 acres are almost dry enough, then along comes another shower to dampen the stalks and threaten mouldy hay bales. Our plant rich and unsprayed hay will go for winter feed, but it has to be as dry as possible when collected or the farmer will have wasted his time.
The meadows have seen a lot of visitors this year. The big butterfly count, wild flower surveys, bottle rocket displays, cinema, dance and parkour workshops and most amazingly of all a world class high wire act that delighted over two and a half thousand people on a hot July weekend. The event was spectacular and only enhanced by the fabulous backdrop.
The Grebes can be seen regularly with their youngster on the top lake, and as it grows in confidence, on the middle lake too. The swans have taken a holiday down to the bottom lake for the moment, we hope they come back next year to breed again.
The grounds team are now planning their work for the autumn and winter. We will try hedge regeneration, butterfly banks and tree planting alongside some pond regeneration near the dipping platform. When the summer has been so busy and varied it’s always interesting to look ahead to a time when we are a little quieter.
We look forward to welcoming you to site in the coming months.