Landscape & Garden Update – 22.12.17
I find myself sitting down for a while after a heavy morning of work putting the courtyard in order, following recent disturbance due to snow clearing. I’m pondering, as I do, what I should create in terms of this, the last Landscape & Garden Update of 2017. It certainly has been a long and very busy two months since my last post, bringing news that for another year Compton Verney attracted higher visitor numbers than the preceding year.
A Growing Team
Another record breaking year means more people than ever are visiting, seeing, and enjoying the park that the team and I care so much about. Most, but not quite all of the grounds team are to be seen in the image above, when we met for an end of season gathering at our recently finished grounds workshop. The team has grown over the last few years, and has become very adaptable to the many challenges that are thrown our way, but in every instance, there is always a smile on every face and a willing attitude to join in and move things forward.
It is largely down to this group above, that the lawns remain green and lush, the paths stay neat and firm, the plantations keep developing and the wildlife lives on happily. Long may we all continue!
The recent helping of snow that fell across the Midlands brought a fair amount across the landscape and garden at Compton Verney. Causing site closure to visitors for two days, it meant that while we worked to clear drives and paths, we were treated to the most beautiful of scenes from the frozen pools to snow capped trees.
Garden areas that were looking seasonally wild after the autumn winds were treated to the purest of white carpets; the first good amount for some time. Ice capped much of the lake surface, but while clear sections offered opportunity for foraging, many of the waterfowl preferred play and could be seen awkwardly sliding over the icy surface.
Wild Animals Endure
Whilst a time for getting the head down and working, to clear the way, it was also a time (as always) for learning about the landscape and how it works. Animal tracks crossed in all directions and areas, including those of a swan that had taken itself for a walk along the path in the coppice. Rabbit movements could be seen, along with deer and an unidentified creature, and wherever our shovels moved snow from a patch of grass, a robin was always quick to arrive and survey the scene.
As fortune would have it, we were treated to bright sunshine throughout the snow clearing sessions. The widest of skies held the softest of cloud formations, which combined with bright sunshine made for perfectly silhouetted trees. As the sun moved around to the west, sinking lower behind the Ice House Plantation, long shadows cast across Old Town Meadow from the enormous Wellingtonia Avenue.
As often the way with freezing snow, my concerns for plant life were justified. Throughout the park, shrubs, through the weight of the previously damp snow had been twisted in all directions. On the morning of the second day of clearing I ventured around, hoping to release the pressure on the many tense stems, only to find they had frozen solid overnight, sticking in their new miss-formed shapes. Trees had also taken their share of pain, the most noticeable being our specimen Cedar of Lebanon in the centre of the front lawn. Unfortunately a large branch has given way, despite much past effort to reduce the likelihood of this occurrence, so in respect of this, there will be work awaiting in the new year.
An Early Start for the New Year
I hope it is easy for you to see, that whilst all around looked beautiful and pristine, there was hazard and damage. However it was, and may yet again be a time to savour, and a time to enjoy the beauty of designed landscape. The snow changed things, both visually and physically, but it was and will continue to be a part of the changing scene of not only this but every other designed landscape or otherwise. I hope you manage to get outdoors and explore at least one landscape this winter season.
My last image for this post is a single Winter Aconite flower, peeking tentatively through the snow by the lime trees. It positively thrives in the conditions described above, and by the time the park opens on Saturday 10th February, they will have carpeted the entire area below the lime trees. They are not a sign of spring, but of life in the landscape, and I certainly hope you’ll be able to come along and see them for yourself.
Thanks for supporting our work at Compton Verney by reading this post, and also I hope, for sharing it. I hope you all have a restful Christmas, and whilst on this blog also take the time to enjoy some of our previous articles!
Gary Webb, Head of Landscape & Gardens.