Earlier this year, when the landscape was cold and damp, the Compton Verney grounds team gathered in the cosy grounds workshop for a day split into thirds. For the first segment of the day the team headed out to explore the wider landscape, including a public footpath that takes in the lengthy lower pool over towards Combrook. Rosy faces returned with chatter about the newly discovered views of the impressive historic landscape. The second segment, after lunch, included some housekeeping items on the agenda before heading into the third and for me; the most risky segment of the day. I had in my wisdom set some homework for the team, and it was in this final session that the results would be revealed – to a good few oh’ s and ah’s, an awkward moment or two, and a fair amount of giggling! Needless to say, the team is a real cross section of talent and experience, and it leads to some fascinating discussions and laughter during work sessions, and especially during break times…I sometimes think the success of our volunteer team hinges largely on the quality of our break time chatter…and the tea, naturally! And so, back to the […]
Whilst the exhibitions and the main gallery do not open until Saturday March 17, I take delight in writing this blog post on the very first of the grounds-only open days of the 2018 season at Compton Verney. After a particularly tough winter period where snow and storm force winds have left their mark, I’m glad to say that the paths are swept, the benches have been cleaned, the welcome centre is warm, and the first flowers of the new year stand proudly awaiting their admirers. As an historic property, Compton Verney works in some ways like estates of this size always have, at this moment in time for example, staff are once again busily working indoors to prepare for the season ahead. Staff duties today of course are more about facilities improvement or exhibition preparation, as opposed to beating exotic rugs or buffing up a fireplace grate or twelve! In a less dramatic way the grounds team of today, whilst flexing to take care of elements such as The Clearing, the Woodland Play Area or Bird Hide; have much the same tasks in hand as gardeners would have for the last three hundred years or so. My team continues to evolve the landscape gardens at Compton Verney with a view to embracing all that it is […]
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 […]
I’m not sure if it is just me, but haven’t we enjoyed some dramatic skies this year? Maybe I’m just taking more time to look, or the weather is simply more theatrical than usual, but time and time again I have found myself standing back in awe of the cloudscape that clothes the landscape. Painterly Skies At Compton Verney of course, being a designed landscape, the views are always impressive. When heavy clouds move and the sun beams through however, the architectural landscape can be transformed to an altogether different and breathtakingly beautiful level. Wild Flower Areas In these images you can see where we have been busy removing grass and dead perennial wild flower growth. In the wide open spaces we utilise agricultural cutting and baling machines, in these smaller areas however we choose to flail cut, and then rake off the cuttings. For certain, this work could be tackled by hired-in machinery, but this once-a-year activity does keep us more closely in touch with the progress and gradual improvement of the wild flower areas that we are nurturing – whilst it is hard work, it is never wasted time. The cut areas may look shocked for a while, but in no time at all this, and other areas will be […]
Welcome to the latest news from the grounds team at Compton Verney – Landscape & Garden Update – 3.02.17. The grounds team were relieved to reach the end of 2016 following a very hectic year which brought a new Welcome Centre, continual adjustments to the park, creation of a new building for the grounds team and much more.
The Clearing is a vision of the future, coming to the grounds of Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park from March to December 2017. British artists Alex Hartley and Tom James are creating a living, breathing encampment in the shadow of a stately home on the shores of an idyllic lake, where people can come together to explore at first hand a future afflicted by climate change. And they need your help. In the middle of The Clearing they’re building a geodesic dome from scrap materials (metal and old doors) inspired by the utopian communities of 1960s America. And now they are looking for volunteer caretakers to come and occupy it for a series of short periods throughout the year, to help bring the vision to life. In the dome, you’ll have access to a stove, a bed, a means to cook and heat water, a toilet, a solar-powered lamp, and a library of hippy-survival guides from throughout the ages. You’ll be expected to help with the upkeep of The Clearing (chopping wood, feeding the chickens, fixing the fence if it falls down etc etc), introduce visitors to the project and write a short report afterwards of what happened. Anyone […]
Between the South and West (Wild flower) Lawn is a grove of mature Lime Trees at Compton Verney. Planted in a horseshoe pattern, and between the trees a gravelled, serpentine path snakes through the grass. Standing stately as high as the mansion itself, the trees are largely pollarded specimens where the top branches have been pruned back, whilst way below Winter Aconites carpet the ground with their yellow blooms showing from Christmas through to early February. The trees themselves are beautiful, dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and were planted we believe to frame views to and from the mansion house. Aside from their aesthetic value, they also offer a wealth of opportunity for wildlife, and offer a very important roost for Noctule Bats. The trees are certainly worth seeking out if you visit Compton Verney, and are unmistakable at any time of year due to their distinctive form – branches sweeping the ground, large protruding buttresses supporting each trunk, and dense clusters of twiggy growth around three metres above the ground. At any time of year they are beautiful to see, with refreshing lime green leaves in spring moving to butter yellow through autumn. The image above was captured in November 2016 looking south, with the middle pool […]