As part of the preparation for our 20 years celebrations, our Chinese Bronzes and Women’s Library collections will be closed from Monday 26 February, reopening with the rest of our new season on Thursday 21 March.

Sowing Wild Flower Seed

It has been a while since the last grounds team update and for good reason – we’ve been too busy! All will be revealed below, but suffice to say that the weather has played a major part, as always, in dictating our work pattern.


This image shows the grass almost entirely strimmed to the ground – a good days work with our trusty 4 stroke Honda strimmer which didn’t miss a beat. © Compton Verney / Gary Webb 2014

You may have heard of a major project involving the west lawn at Compton Verney, which you can read about here, but essentially that involves the preparation of a large area for wild flower seed sowing. In addition to that project, we’re releasing more of our wilder side by sowing further areas of the grounds with native wild flower seed – thankfully these areas are more suited to working with a small team rather than a large tractor!


Volunteer Jenny telling me to stop taking photos and get raking! © Compton Verney / Gary Webb 2014

The areas selected have been allowed to grow long this season, partially to more clearly define character areas but also due to the realisation that we had been mowing some areas unnecessarily. The trial this year worked well, so with the wider focus (as ever) on improving and increasing the floral offering at Compton Verney, we decided to work these ‘wild’ areas some more.


© Compton Verney / Gary Webb 2014

These images show the process we have followed these past two weeks to improve our wild flower patches. We initially strimmed the grass very close to the ground, followed by a thorough rake to remove as much material as possible – this is to be composted.


Preparing the ground for wild flowers. © Compton Verney / Gary Webb 2014

A light scarify might well have been next step forward, but with quite uneven ground and a rotovator on site for the other project, the opportunity was taken to work the area more thoroughly. On the plus side, at least we’ve been able to even out some of the lumps and bumps!

The freshly turned areas after levelling were tidied around the edges, then left to dry slightly before sowing yesterday with a mix of suitable grasses and native wild flowers. All that remains is to roll the areas to consolidate the soil once it dries some more. It’s been interesting through the process to see how many conkers had been stored (amongst the grass) by squirrels, and where old bonfires had occurred (with ash deposits clear to see) in three places next to hollows where I presume trees once stood.

We’ll hopefully see these areas green up over the next few weeks, and colour up over the next few seasons with primrose, ox-eye daisy, buttercup, yellow rattle and knapweed flowers amongst others. It has been a real team effort, especially with all the raking necessary to the task, but we’re convinced the outcome will be worthwhile and can’t wait to see the results of our efforts!

Gary Webb

Head of Landscape and Gardens, Compton Verney.