Georgeous Hellebores – Grounds Update January 10 2014

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.


Close up image of Helleborus foetidus, or Stinking hellebore prior to planting.

Off-site, two of our grounds volunteers are busy researching the history of Compton Verney’s landscape garden, and have begun a long project to work through any available information. Starting with locally available records at first, the plan is to tease out any details of interest which are so useful to our understanding of the landscape, and in some cases to our present management of the site.

Naturally there is a good deal of research work ahead, yet whilst much has been done by others previously, that which exists is tucked away in many discrete locations. We hope through our efforts to collect together a database of grounds-specific information relating to Compton Verney. We would therefore welcome any comments or approaches from volunteers who would like to help with research of information.


Quick glimpse of the aconites as I drive by!

Naturally, the ‘down’ season for the grounds team at Compton Verney is all too short, and before long the wider team will be all back to work, tidying untidiness, nurturing plants, charming bees and chatting to visitors. Or was that nurturing untidiness, chatting to bees and charming visitors – my chilled mind struggles to remember?! In any case, the research will slow down and volunteer efforts will turn to physical grounds work.

Today once again Adam and I divided our efforts, with Adam heading for the woods to burn some waste material that has been drying off for some time. Where we have to burn material, we do prefer to burn long-cut and dry material, as this burns much cleaner, and always in the same location – long gone are the days where bonfires are lit here and there. That isn’t to say that we generate a great deal of burn material, as the larger percentage of our cut woody material is either shredded and used for mulching, or tucked away as dead-wood habit piles – greener gardening methods reign!


A few spots of colour from Viburnum opulus, or Guelder rose in the ice house coppice.

And lastly to myself, after paying attention to the booking of some grounds based events this year, (more of this to follow soon,) I headed out for a planting session. Due to the weather turning wet before Christmas, we postponed in the hope that a drier period would arrive. ‘Drier’ wasn’t a word I’d exactly use to describe the soil, but into the ground went some gorgeous Hellebores: Helleborus niger, H. corsicus and H. foetidus to be precise. Naturally we used plenty of compost to help them along the way, and for a time at least, rabbit guards to ensure they have a chance to settle in.

“Now grow little ones” I said – or words to that effect!

All in all a busy day out in the fresh air at Compton Verney, helped along with a good deal of twittering (the feathered type) and sunshine of course. If there’s chance, I hope you get to experience a little fresh air this weekend, it’s a ‘gardeners world’ after, all and worth the effort!