Monday 2 January 2012

2011 in the Grounds at Compton Verney, January to June.

Well, last year was certainly a busy one for me personally, and especially so for all at my place of work - Compton Verney. For my area of focus, that of grounds maintenance and development, its nice to get to this point at the end of one year/start of another, and take a little time to look back. Some of my posts last year showed a glimpse of grounds activity at Compton, and to round these off, I thought I'd choose a selection of photographs from the year’s activity to show just some of the tasks we've been involved with.

To set the scene a little: The grounds team, in their present form have moved into a second year together, and now stand at four members – two staff, two volunteers. Not a huge team by some examples, but together during 2011 we've been able to tackle some long standing tasks and also progress restoration and developments in key areas of the grounds. If visitor reaction is anything to go by, we can't be doing too badly, and I for one can see the gardening potential at Compton Verney – there's a long way to go yet, but there's much more potential awaiting release. The year proved interesting and challenging in so many ways, and with a tinge of fatigue, I can say with strength that all our efforts as a grounds team have been worthwhile.
We are set for a challenging year once again, and I look forward to seeing the earliest snowdrop open, the first tree blossom burst, and the juiciest fruits form. I can’t wait for the belts to tighten and the mower blades to whirl into action, and for the herbs to shoot forth from the warming grounds of the ice house coppice. I’m eager to see the lake jumping with healthy fish, the kingfisher dashing past the flags, and the rods poised for the catch. Can’t wait for that warming sun either!
I feel another busy year coming on, but before we get stuck into it, here’s a quick flash through 2011 to display some of the photographs taken along the way. Below is January through to June, with the second half of the year due to be posted later this week. Enjoy!


Surveying began for restoration of the Elm avenue. Tree positions
marked as accurately as possible, and just visible in a distant field
from the mansion.

Planting begins with the help of Warwickshire College students,
from the Moreton Morrell campus. The digger proved essential
with the heavy soil, and initial planting of 32 trees was completed
in a single day.

Restoration work to the ice house continued in the sub zero
temperatures. The final touches to the entrance brickwork
 being completed here.

Winter aconites grab attention in the Lime tree theatre. This
photograph highlights the route of the late 18th Century foot-
path. Seen here running from right to left 

 Wellingtonia Avenue, Compton Verney.

Tree planting and the all important guarding continues in the parkland.
The tracked vehicle 'thumps' 4inch square posts clear into the ground - impressive!

Snowdrops soak up the February sunshine at Compton Verney.

Crocus tommasinianus bloom beneath the trees.

Work to transform the overgrown Christmas tree plantation begins.
Play equipment specifically chosen to weave through
retained trees.

Around Valentines day, the Spiegelei being assembled
with the help of a hoist and many pairs of hands.


The finished article awaiting its public judgement.
The Elms, planted and ready for business. Beetles not allowed!

Scilla, or Scilla siberica, small but perfectly formed. You have to
 know where to look for them, as there aren't many...

The completed ice house, ready to begin the ageing process once again.
Grass now skirts the thatch, and Lesser Horseshoe bats did return to
explore, which was brilliant news - the bat-slot shown here in the front
 door proved effective.

One completed willow tunnel, which has established well with much irrigation!


A large Lilac group sit quietly across the lawn. Part of an old shrubbery,
probably Victorian, it's scent is mostly missed by visitors due
to its location. (The old path in the lawn long since grassed over.)

Planting begins to conceal the car park from the surrounding landscape.
Evergreen plants such as Viburnum, Box and Laurel were used
 as year-long screening/structure.

Cedrus libani cones mature slowly on our specimen front lawn tree.


'Phase-1' works begin to let light into the Chapel and ascertain works
required for more complete renovation.

Syringa laciniata, or Persian Lilac blooms on newly planted specimens
in the ice house coppice.

Sadly the harsh winter killed off the top growth of the Laurustinus,
but they are coming back nicely now following some attention.

Yellow Flag Iris, or Iris pseudacorus demanding attention down at
the waters edge - simply stunning.

Angelica archangelica nestled in the herb border. The border has
matured nicely on the steep bank, with additional planting planned
for spring 2012.

Willow arrives for the first of the very well received workshops
 run by Compton Verney and Laura Ellen-Bacon.
Star spotting again!

Papaver rhoeas, or corn/field/Flanders poppy, blossoms as a
bonus for repair works to the 2010 marquee site. We were able to
increase the area left for wild grass/flora, and what a result!

 Work finally gets underway to regain control of the ice house
coppice. Many days of machine and clearing work followed, then
came the seeding and, the waiting.
Tidy, tidy tidy; but the 'weeds' still have their place. At last we can
reach the plants and trees to maintain them, and the 'grabbed'
areas can once again be accessed by people, and squirrels,
and badgers and rabbits and more!

Ah yes! The lodge arrived. To be continued...

Compton's new play area, completed in time for summer.
Hang on, who is that preparing for take off?
Surely I didn't?

Oh yes - I did didn't I!

Well those few photographs only give a hint towards the work, the floral treats, and the challenges we faced during the first half of 2011 - and I dont mean surviving the zip-wire! I'll be working on the second instalment this week, so if you find these interesting, drop by again next weekend to catch the next post.

Thanks, Gary.
Compton Verney

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