West Lawn Weeds Need Your Help!

After all: “A weed is just a wild flower in the wrong place”.


To present a garden, and in my case a landscape garden in a certain way requires finding a balance, a balance between what we actively plant in terms of ornamentals, but more widely, considering a balance in terms of the ‘weeds’ we retain as wild flowers. Does this make sense?

What I’m trying to say is that in various quantities, in various areas of the landscape garden, my ‘gardening’ role is to decide what is introduced, removed, and retained. This in some ways means selecting appropriate ornamental stock to lift the garden appearance, in line with our conservation plan of course. Looking closer however, my gardening role is also to decide which ‘weeds’ are removed, and which can stay….


Teasel finding a hold in the west lawn. © COMPTON VERNEY / GARY WEBB 2014

This isn’t an easy task, but it is a task made easier when the plants under consideration have direct benefits to the environment around them, when of course they are allowed to stay. At Compton Verney, our considerations in this subject and for that matter our contribution towards establishing species rich grassland is really picking up pace.

For example, several years ago we re-sowed a large parkland area to wild flowers, and planted many Oak trees to establish, in time, a wood pasture of around seventy acres. Presently, we are turning our attention to improving an area closer to home, the expansive West Lawn.


Yellow Rattle at Compton Verney. © COMPTON VERNEY / GARY WEBB 2014

Surrounded either by historic mansion/gallery, open water or tree shelter belt, the west lawn has an atmosphere all of its own, though essentially is used as a utility area. This has meant mowing of a large area for recreation, and retaining longer growth across a larger area for texture, the aesthetic difference, or simply as a cost-effective management option. On the upside of this approach, the longer grass areas have remained treatment free, and wild flowers as I see them have gained a hold – We’ve even placed our bee hives adjacent to the west lawn due to the variety of wild flowers, and the butterflies attracted to the area are astounding.


Peacock Butterfly © COMPTON VERNEY / GARY WEBB 2014

I’m glad to report therefore that the sward is finally on the brink of some serious investment, both in time and money. However, we’re not home and dry yet, and I, on behalf of the birds, bees and butterflies Need Your Help!

This project has a fascinating arts twist, but please remember the benefit to bees, butterflies, gardens and of course the people who will visit the wild flower enriched west lawn for years to come.


Cowslips already establishing in the wild flower West Lawn at Compton Verney. © COMPTON VERNEY / GARY WEBB 2014

Please click on the link and watch a short video which out lines the project, and help us to really invest in this special place.

Gary Webb, Head of Landscape & Garden, Compton Verney.

The Dan Pearson and William Morris Meadow