Spotted and Potted – Grounds Update October 28 2013

I’m relieved to report that at least as far as Compton Verney’s grounds are concerned, the damage expected from the overnight storm hasn’t materialised. Most of the leaves are left on the trees, much as last week, and although a little damp underfoot, the grounds are largely back to normal – and awaiting your visit!


After the rain…

We have been as busy as ever over the past two weeks, both staff and volunteers working on a wide range of tasks to further our goals. One task slightly different to the norm was when I joined Mo in Stratford-upon-Avon, where we spent three fascinating hours at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust records office.

Image taken by GW, Courtesy of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust records office.

This was to start off a small research project concerning the grounds developments over the past two centuries or so. We have ascertained the size and scope of the task ahead now, and are devising an approach that will make future volunteer research efficient, allowing us to acquire useful information. It was such a rare treat, to be able to handle and study items of such significance to Compton Verney. 


Verbena bonariensis flowering in the Ice House Coppice at Compton Verney

Back in the borders at Compton Verney, specifically adjacent to the mansion and chapel, another volunteer Jenny, has been busy tidying through the herbaceous planting, putting it all to bed so to speak. As fortune would have it, Jenny spotted and potted some seedling Verbena bonariensis, or Purple Top, which can next season be planted out to bolster displays elsewhere in the grounds.

Another hardy volunteer, Dick, has been effective working with Adam in pruning a shrubbery. Some of our early plantings are knitting together effectively now, and the process we’re following is to reduce their height by pruning, to encourage them to knit more tightly together. This should also help to crowd out weeds more effectively.


View from the north park down to the Sphinx Bridge, Middle Pool and the Ice House Coppice.

I managed to work through the willow tunnel, which is its second major prune since installation. I remember when willow artist David Gosling installed the feature, that the rods weren’t ideally long enough to form the entire arch of the tunnel. What I found under closer inspection was that where some of the tips of those rods had died back, they had withered and become loose – effectively opening up the top of the tunnel to the skies above.






After…awaiting clean up of course!

It took the best part of a week, spliced in with other tasks, but I have now re-tied the structure, adding new rods in to the bare spaces, and planting some shoots to form new rods to firm up the whole structure. I would hope, if we can get the feature through the winter without nibbles from local deer, that the structure will now start to knit together more effectively. Well that is the plan!


Other tasks have been mowing during the drier periods, and the finishing of some lake edge tidying – clearing out some of the overly vigorous marginal planting. The combination of these jobs, at least when the sun shines, helps restore the classic view from across the water of the mansion, sat on its carpet of green, reflected in the lake.

Work ahead of us just now includes managing some tree work by contractors, installing Christmas, or Christmas trees to be precise, and of course creating the wreath for the Adam Hall door. In addition to these there’s the task of managing autumn, which is an interesting challenge – how much do we clean and sweep away?! I like to think we get the balance right, but I’ll let you be the judge of that! I hope you’ll get the chance to visit over the coming weeks, there’s lots to see and enjoy in the grounds – foliage and berries in particular are looking great.


Cedar of Lebanon & autumn colour at Compton Verney. 2013

Hope to see you around, but don’t forget:

  • you can choose to follow this blog to find out about key events and happenings concerning the landscape and garden. Use the email follow box on the main page
  • you can find out more on the grounds pages of our website: Compton Verney Grounds
  • we would love to see images of the grounds from your visit, simply tweet them using the following text: @ComptonVerney #CVGrounds

Enjoy the autumn!