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 […]
As you may know, the park and wider landscape at Compton Verney, as well as being a designed landscape, features many different ecological habitats that are very attractive to wild flowers and creatures. Whilst we naturally manage the venue for its landscape garden qualities, we are also therefore, very much aware of its ecological importance, and we always aim to manage the landscape accordingly. I would even go as far as saying that most of our landscape management regime is based around its wild flora or fauna requirements, as opposed to managing the landscape purely for ornamental reasons. Understanding this, and that around half of the grounds volunteer team have roles devoted to wildlife or habitat recording or management, it wasn’t going to be long before we were ready to stage an event dedicated to The Wilder Side of Compton Verney! Indeed we watched with pride recently whilst our assembled team of naturalists and wildlife champions engaged visitors with the wonderful flora and fauna of Compton Verney and the local area. Throughout the day a range of displays and activities were assembled to share information on badgers, fungi, moths, trees and wild flowers, along with bees, hedgehogs, birds […]
Fungi, as fascinating and prolific as they are, are a world away from the ‘comfortable’ horticultural world I occupy. They are hugely valuable though, and their presence in a natural landscape or garden offers much more than a short term unusual feature or splash of colour. For example,
Time Flies Time has certainly flown of late, as you’ll know by the scarcity of landscape articles since the summer! Back we are though with a busy autumn period, and enough on the task list to see us through to the New Year. First of all I have to make reference to The March of the Imagination, our light up the landscape evenings that finished their run Sunday last. As a landscape focussed lighting experience, #CVMOTI as it became known was one of collaboration and team effort, and its execution was carefully planned to ensure that the event had minimal impact on the landscape and ecology. Light Bulbs To Flower Bulbs To that end ecologists were employed to review plans for the installation, going on to survey many trees intended to be lit during the event. All, I’m glad to say, was very sensitively arranged. At this time of year, one of the work activities to keep us busy between the many housekeeping tasks is bulb planting. For 2018 this is a larger than usual challenge thanks to some additional funding intended to boost horticultural interest during the early part of the season. Squirrels & Badgers Just short of 3000 bulbs are in the process […]
Welcome to the Landscape & Garden Update – 19.06.18. It’s been a while since we caught up but then, it has been an incredibly busy season thus far. Meadow Flowers The delayed start to spring due to the cold and wet weather seemed to result in the landscape unfurling more slowly and gracefully than ever. From lesser celandine, through cowslips which are coming back very strongly now, to the mass of buttercups; the floral content continues to improve.
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’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 […]
Top 30 Bird species to see at Compton Verney Interested in bird watching? If your answer is yes and you are in reach of south Warwickshire then Compton Verney could be worth a visit. Although an art gallery with all the modern conveniences, Compton Verney happens to be situated in 120 acres of designed landscape and is surrounded by many more acres of woodland and beautiful countryside; it is quite simply a magnet for a wide range of bird species! Connected woodland parcels, hedgerows and streams direct birds from surrounding farmland to the wildlife site that is Compton Verney, and with an ever-growing path network that is easy to navigate, not to mention our bird hide; opportunity to spot birds is better than ever! Over 100 bird species recorded. Bird species recorded on site topped the 100 mark last year, and all were sightings by our resident bird spotter Alwyn Knapton who visits each week, adding to our knowledge of resident and migratory birds that rely on Compton Verney. From the lists I’ve picked out 30 that are typically seen, and the areas where you’re most likely to see them. If you’re a keen bird watcher, I’d suggest bringing some binoculars and dressing up in greens to maximise your chances […]
Welcome to the Landscape & Garden Update – 13.06.17. Mowing As I type both the heat and longer daylight hours continue to stretch forcing maximum growth from plants across the park at Compton Verney. Lawns in particular have been growing strongly for many weeks now, prompting frequent mowing sessions; all in an effort to keep the landscape looking just so. If I’m honest, there are times when we can be overtaken by grass growth, but our machinery has been chosen specially to allow us to ‘catch-up’ if you like, so effectively we are always in control – or so I like to think! Our latest machine acquisition was thankfully supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the on-going project to restore and re-view the ‘Capability’ Brown landscape. Meadows
Welcome to the latest news from the grounds team at Compton Verney – Landscape & Garden Update – 05.04.17. Landscape and Garden Generally speaking, the weather through late winter into spring has been mild, encouraging a steady and more traditional flowering period for plants throughout the grounds. The good quality footpaths we’ve installed over the last few years make Compton Verney a great venue for some early season fresh air, and especially so for wheelchair users (Do check our Access in the park information.) All the paths follow historic and designed routes, meaning you’re never far from a group of flowers in the grass or within the woodland garden areas, and there’s always a significant landscape vista around the next corner – a true landscape garden indeed. spring flowers Over the years, drifts of spring bulbs have been established, and we’ve worked over the last few years to spread these through division and supplementary planting. The horticultural effort over many years is finally coming to fruition now, and for a property that is more often known for its sweeping parkland, lake and stately trees; we’re gradually gaining recognition as a garden property. From early season winter aconites, through snowdrops and hellebores, to daffodils and windflowers; spring offers a surprising variety of blossom […]
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 […]
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 […]
One of our recent #CVgrounds volunteer recruits has been out and about photographing Butterflies at Compton Verney in July. With the Old Town Meadow, East Park, and the West Lawn maturing as wild flower meadows, not to mention a good amount of woodland and lake area; we’re rapidly becoming a drop-in centre for most local wildlife which includes some beautiful butterflies! If you’d like a stroll around to see for yourself there’s a link at the bottom of this post to visiting information, and I’d recommend in respect of butterflies visiting before the middle of August, by which time we’ll have cut the larger part of the meadow areas. Tip – a sunny day is by far better for butterfly spotting, with many species only venturing out when the sun shines! Below are a handful of stunning photographs snapped mostly by volunteer Arthur Owens that give a flavour of what can be seen during early July for example. From a grounds management perspective the images and accompanying field notes help to build a picture of butterfly and moth species that live or visit Compton Verney throughout the season, which in turn helps us select the best management options for the many areas available to us. ‘Capability’ Brown, when he completed the re-design of the Compton Verney landscape may or […]
It’s volunteer photograph time again, and this time yet again it’s some wonderful images of damselflies, which have all been photographed in three locations within the parkland at Compton Verney. We’re focusing afresh on butterflies, moths and damselflies and in a similar method to bird surveying, will be carrying out recording sessions with volunteers over the coming seasons.