Wednesday, 4 January 2012

2011 in the Grounds at Compton Verney, July to December.

This post about the grounds at Compton Verney, picks up from a previous one, and continues a photographic record from July 2011 through to December. I have effectively sifted through my collection of images from last year, and added those that give an insight to the interesting and varied times we have had. If you haven't yet visited, there's more to Compton Verney than these photo's alone can show, and we open again for business at the end of March. All the important links to information are at the bottom of the post.  


The first art work by Laura Ellen-Bacon was installed at
Compton Verney during early summer 2011 residency.  
Using woven Willow, the form appears to grow from within
the gnarled trunk of a Yew tree located near the obelisk.    
The willow is stripped before delivery, and days of finger numbing
twisting and weaving went into its creation. Further works were
created during the summer, to be seen later in this post.

What are all these vehicles doing on my lawn.....? I couldn't possibly say...
The ground, as you can see, was protected across the entire
area though,
 which helped reduce the impact tremendously. In fact, I'm convinced that the
water run off from the aluminium ground sheets actually helped to
green up the lawn faster, following its removal.
Work to improve the Ice House Coppice continued throughout
the year, this photograph showing some sections of path margins
that have been worked and seeded with native woodland wildflower mix.
The grasses in the mix will have the effect of softening the harsh edge
of the path, and will bring botanical interest to our very feet!

Galium verum, commonly known as Lady's Bedstraw is one of my
favourite 'wild' flowers, and collected its common name due to its use,
 in days gone by to stuff mattresses. Luckily, it grows prolifically across
 the East Park at Compton, and this year we installed a new gate and
 began the not insignificant task of mowing a circular route for visitors to get
 amongst the flora and fauna. We're hoping use of the circular walk
builds this year, as the flowers are beautiful and views back to the mansion
are worth the walk alone.

Self Heal, Prunella vulgaris, is another favourite - there are so many!
This persistent plant is stunningly beautiful with its purple/blue flower petals,
and it can be found at Compton Verney, as above, stretching through
 the grasses as a wildflower. It can also be found throughout the lawns
 where it hugs the ground and still flowers within the trimmed grass blades.
As its name suggests, it is claimed to 'Heal-all', and is reputed to help 
with the treatment of many ailments. Apparently, the leaves and petals
 are good in salads too, so I'll give it a whirl this year!  


Marcia Farquhar's 'The Horse is a Noble Animal' was very popular
with visitors to Compton Verney during 2011. Standing approximately
2.5 metres high, it sat nicely on the west lawn for the season looking
 over the lake. It didn't chomp through much grass though....

A Tale of Two Bridges? Well they certainly have some history
attached to them. Both 18th Century masterpieces from the 'Capability'
Brown landscaping, the nearest is potentially a Robert Adam design.
The farthest disguises the dam where the water falls to a lower lake,
 outside of Compton Verney's ownership. Just think of the commercial
 traffic that thunders across that bridge daily  without a clue to its
 grade II listing or importance - over 240 years old!
 Maybe I won't mention the ghost...

A distant view from the east park/meadow path, attempting to
 show how important the tree planting is to Compton Verney's landscape.
The large Cedar to the front of the mansion is impressive, if a
little out of shape, whilst the London Plane (shown here to the far left,)
 marks the lakeside at the 3 arch bridge. The green and
pleasant land that Brown contributed to...

Another of the Ellen-Bacon artworks, and tucked away just off the
main walk. The work involved is impressive to say the least
 and the structure really makes something special out of an otherwise
bland section of shrubbery. Very well received.


No, its not a Spider man web, not unless you want it to be?!

The ice house is mellowing nicely as you can see, the lawn lapping once
again at its foundations. Bats did return for a while, just as before -
as a summer social roost. Lesser Horseshoe droppings were confirmed,
 proving that slots left purposely in the doors were a good decision.
With a little luck, maybe it will become a maternity roost in time.

The lake survey commissioned for September worked perfectly,
and showed a good range of fish - Pike, Carp, Tench and Roach
in particular. The breeding has, left to its own devices worked too
well, and we have the task of cropping the fish now to ensure there
is enough food to grow healthy and larger specimens. A programme of
maintenance has been suggested by AE Fisheries to help with
improvements to fish and water quality.

The Spiegelei, in a reflected mood...

A Capability Brown lake, also in a reflective mood...

A Sphinx sits with eternal patience to view all who approach
the mansion, whilst soaking up the morning sun.

Launched in October with bang or two, was the exhibition
Remember Remember, A history of fireworks in Britain.
Fireworks are so difficult to photograph!

Bulb planting was arranged for the autumn to nudge forward the
ice house planting in a big way. Native varieties were selected
and planted with the help of Warwickshire College students
 once again, with Daffodils, Bluebells and Tulips the main contenders.
We have further planting to continue this spring, with extra Bluebells,
Snowdrops and much more.

A photograph taken of the sun set over the Cedars, reflected in
the huge Georgian windows on the western front of the mansion.


I keep trying to catch a nice lunar photograph, and as you can see -
I have to try some more! I'll get there...

The growth of the wildflower mix through the coppice was slow
 through the season, as irrigation was kept to an absolute minimum.
I'm happy with progress however, and ground cover planting
 continues to evolve.
Yes, November saw the Christmas preparations begin,
with the wreath being made in-house this year by yours truly.
 Hanging above the doors to the Adam Hall, I'm glad to say
the crab apples lasted well, and the wreath looked
as good as new when taken down around six weeks later.

One of the last projects of the season was in connection with the
Chapel restoration. The old crypt was explored for the first time in
many years, to further inform the repair works. All being well,
we should see the chapel opened for selected events during 2012 
One last shot to finish off; the Christmas trees of Compton Verney.
These four compliment the portico beautifully, and provide
a fitting welcome for the Christmas Weddings.

Well that is the last of my two yearly review posts, and I hoped they gave a little insight into our work. Assembling them has taught me how to approach my photography at work, as the gaps in my collection effectively leave gaps in the recording of grounds tasks during the year. It would be lovely to spend regular time completing a daily work log, but experience tells me It would be too much of a burden. Having said that, it isn't much easier finding time to photograph, when you really need to be getting on with the core job!

Ah well, I'll keep on snapping when I have the chance, and will hopefully have a more complete story to tell at the end of 2012.

Thanks for viewing, do visit once we open in the spring, and check in with my blog for occasional work related posts and more!



Calogero said...

Nice horse and mansion in the photos :-).

Ruth said...

Ooooooooh - want to know more about the ghost!

Gardener Gary said...

Thank you for comment, they are both quite special aren't they...