We are slipping down gently into winter in the grounds at Compton Verney, and gradually the lawn mowing is giving way to cleaning and tidying, and my thoughts are focusing towards preparing for the next growing season. The months have passed swiftly by yet again, and although water has featured in abundance, we have had our share of favourable weather; indeed the temperatures have been much preferable for outdoor working. The autumn colours are creeping into the trees slowly, but with a great deal of mature conifer cover, it is to the shrubs and young trees that I turn for my dazzling autumn top up of colour.
The future of the grounds at Compton Verney will, with a bit more planning, a large splodge of hard work, and a good measure of luck; be
very bright indeed. I am of course referring to the renovation of the planting schemes around the property which are very steadily turning the ‘grounds’ into a garden. I’ll be writing more about this in a plant focused post in due course, but suffice to say that much time has been invested this year in the selection of plants to generally fill up the needy areas. Year-round interest is constantly in my mind when selecting plants; winter stems, summer and autumn leaf colour and fruit colour compete with the all important flowers.
Talking of plant selection, I recently found myself a hundred miles away from ‘work’, sloshing along a dark and rainy M5 when I realised my thoughts had drifted to tree selection for autumn colour in the ice house coppice! Needless to say I quickly returned my focus to the road ahead, but once a gardener, as they say - always a gardener.
The lawns have served us well during twenty twelve, helped in no short measure by a weed and feed mid summer that boosted growth for many weeks, ensuring lush weed free growth in the main lawn areas. The longer grass across the west lawn suffered with excess growth, and whilst the flowers were there, I did have to search a little harder to enjoy them amongst the blades of grass. Although this area missed out on a cut and bale towards the end of the summer, I was hopeful for some later attention, nevertheless, we had to suffice with a topping which must have been heavy going for the tractor driver. The grass has settled down somewhat, but for next year, an earlier cut will be needed once again, especially if we have a repeated rainy season.
I’m quite at ease with a garden looking ‘autumnal’, and in that I mean (dare I say it) leaves on paths. I do hanker for some kind of order amongst this wilder season but it is great to see little ones wading through a pile of leaves or holding onto an extra large or colourful one they’ve picked up. The ultra smooth path throughout the coppice screams out for regular cleaning, but to clean it every morning clears away the badger tracks from the night before or the scattered soil a rabbit scraped from the path margin. We may clean it thoroughly and often, but the wildlife is there consistently, and they remind us who is in charge during the closed hours.
Alas, there is little in the way of acorns or horse chestnuts to pick up at the moment, but there are plenty of conifer cones of different shapes and sizes to seek out, and nature’s art box, located near the obelisk is consistently popular. It is amazing how many creations appear throughout the year as different approaches are used to making shapes with natural materials found in the grounds. Further away on the west lawn, the lime leaves in the cathedral like clump are turning their buttery yellow, and it was delightful to see them whipped up into mini whirlwinds this morning, dancing across the lawn in the sunshine.
Whilst out and about, I shall be snapping away at the amazing fungi that is popping up all over; out of the grass, on trees, out of stumps and even on the natural art works installed a year or so ago. I will be posting some of my favourites via twitter via @garywebb1 so do tune in if you’re into historic garden type tweeting, and do consider following @comptonverney where the odd #cvgrounds tweet might be squeezed in amongst those of the other departments within the gallery. If you blink, it will be Christmas, but don’t cringe at the thought, just look forward the thought of me tweeting with fingers freshly prickled during the wreath making, or with a scalp freshly stabbed from wrestling with the giant Christmas trees we erect in the portico – we might even stretch to a floodlight again this year – watch this space!
Happy autumn :)