Garden Update 17-10-15

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.

Elsewhere on the lawn, the hlf footpath contractors are busy cutting the path route, which is much easier said than done, but the devastation will repair, and the accessible paths which will give the area such a lift when it’s all complete.

Cedars: [Once again the patchy carpet of wild ‘ish’ flowers amongst the wood chip have turned into a carpet of weeds, not a good look. Must sort soon…] that was my note from August, I have now sorted them!

Lodge area: Or should I say ‘welcome centre’… The work is flying along, and since I last wrote we’ve acquired a building site, with lots of heavy plant and rather deep earth-works. But for a few teething problems, the team are off to a flying start, and it’s good to see the foundations and lower blockwork in place.

Fencing: The North and East Park fencing was all installed, and painted, and we just await a short-run of lamb wires to finalise. Additional fencing to the front boundary is also complete, and looking (at long last) much better. More remains to be done, after further ground and tree works are complete.

Pond Dipping: Adjustments to the plan have been made following tree work that opened up some impressive views of the lake. It became evident that there was also a more suitable location for the platform once we could see how the water levels were set against the bank. We now have a really good set up in the offing, and work should begin around the end of the month, maybe into November.

Bird Hide: Following on from the dipping platform was an alternative location for the planned bird hide. We’ve now a much better site for the hide, giving more shelter and opportunity to see birds and a stunning view across the middle pool.

Other HLF Tasks: These are coming thick and fast now, but then we’re seeing a peak of activity with three, sometimes four sets of contractors on site. Footpath works have necessitated many trial pits/garden archaeology, in many places. And tree clearance is currently forcing much timber moving – lots of heaving and huffing! All is progressing well however, and moving forward positively.
Another fascinating diversion is my involvement in planning interpretation for 2016 which is to be placed in the new welcome centre, gallery entrance and in the landscape. It has produced yet another opportunity to revisit the historic maps, as I look to explain the long-gone Baroque garden.

And there’s more! Of course, any large project such as this wouldn’t be complete without an increase in both visitor engagement and ‘outreach’, and so I’m also heavily involved in planning new activities as we move towards and through 2016 – did I mention it’s Capability Brown’s Festival Year? (That’s why we’re Re-viewing the Landscape!!)

Planning Work: Well, as the 2015 meadow project settles into the memory bank, next year’s exhibition builds. I am of course referring to an allotment feature, so whilst the site undergoes its biggest transformation since the mansion restoration; I’m engrossed in planning a 1950s allotment. Makes a change I suppose!

Time to sign off, for now. If you want to see the latest images from the grounds at Compton Verney, search online for #CVGrounds