Landscape & Garden Update – 25.08.16
Landscape & Garden Update – 25.08.16 – As is often the case, the busiest and most active times for the grounds team at Compton Verney result in less time for blogging and social media. We are however committed to the Landscape Blog and very much see it as an opportunity for the grounds team to speak directly to those who maybe can’t visit as often as they would like. If you are planning a visit however, it is worth knowing that the my monthly grounds walks, this year focused on ‘Capability’ Brown, continue. The tours are the first Thursday afternoon in the month, at 1.30 pm – please book with reception.
The Fifties Allotment
On almost every visitor agenda just now is the Fifties Allotment that we’ve installed to compliment the on-going Britain in the Fifties, Design and Aspiration exhibition. Little did we know that our modest allotment would be so popular, with visitors asking to look around the plot even before it was due to officially open! The success of the allotment however has been a real team effort, with volunteers being largely responsible for creating the plot we see today. From the initial planting list, I designed a plot that would be as accessible as possible, with as many details as possible to give an authentic 1950’s feel.
The little details make all the difference, from the milk bottle tops strung between the crops, to the planters made from old chimney pots, and hand made guttering to capture water from the genuine allotment shed. Crops include a range of heritage vegetables that would have been grown, and they have done very well considering it is the first year the ground has been cultivated in this way. As we harvest the last of each crop, salad varieties are being sown for continuity, and to keep the plot active, both through to the end of the exhibition, and the end of the year.
Elsewhere, we’re seeing visitors enjoying the fruits of our labours which includes many elements brought to Compton Verney through the Heritage Lottery Funded project. Above you’ll see the start post for the new orienteering course which has been put together in association with the Octavian Droobers orienteering club. There are three courses from easy to long, with the easy being an ideal trial course for beginners of approximately half an hour. One pound buys a map with instructions, you just need to follow the planned route so good footwear and clothing suitable for the weather is all you need.
New interpretation panels, placed at key positions around the grounds are proving very popular, with a mix of historical and wildlife information. The boards compliment a range of other interpretation tools which also includes a new short film in the welcome centre, giving a useful introduction to Compton Verney.
If you’ve an eye for all things antique, you might also find our ‘Tools of the Trade’ trail worth a look. There is an information sheet available from the welcome centre, and unusual tools secured randomly around the Ice House Coppice. It’s as much fun guessing what they were used for as actually seeking them out, and you might be surprised how little some of the items have changed over the years – was they not considered antique, I’d have no hesitation in using them!
Down in the newly re-created Wilderness Area, both the pond dipping platform and the bird hide are proving popular. Our bird food supplies have taken a hit once the squirrels worked out how to access the feeders, but we’re reconsidering our strategy and will be improving our feeders before winter sets in. The grounds however, and especially the wilderness area attracts a range of species, with Great Crested Grebe frequently seen from the hide along with many others – one visitor even recorded a Golden Eagle on the chalk board recently!
Elsewhere, if the grounds team haven’t been in the allotment, or busy setting up a gazebo in the landscape for an event, or maybe even building a larger than average sand pit, you’d have found us weaving our way between the visitors whilst trying to keep all in good order. With so many other projects the planting trials in the Ice House Coppice have largely had to fend for themselves, but those surviving pest attack are doing very nicely including the beautiful Globe Thistle, or Echinops ritro below.
Hidden away from main view is this Chicken of the Woods fungus, or Laetiporus sp. At its peak the beautiful orange ‘shelves’ glow from the shade, here on a Yew tree within the coppice, and remind us that while each tree doesn’t last forever, its ageing and decaying process can also bring visual benefits.
There is so much happening in the park that I could easily continue, just so much to talk about! Please do check out the Compton Verney website for information, and do remember to share your images online on one of the many social media networks, Compton Verney are always happy to share your love for our great landscape!
Gary – Head of Landscape and Gardens