Thursday, 31 May 2012

Stowe - Gardening on the grandest scale

Unexpected, revealing and surprising are words that came to mind during a visit yesterday to Stowe Garden, a major National Trust property in Buckinghamshire. The aim of the day was to meet the head gardener and his team, and also to learn about The New Inn, the latest and greatest building restoration project to be completed there in time for spring 2012.
New Inn-National Trust-Stowe-Gary Webb.
I was completely thrown on arrival, as the location for the New Inn is a long way from the old visitor reception, but the less grand country lane approach was much more fitting and entirely appropriate – as I was about to learn. This new visitor reception, as it happened had an interesting history, being a venue created in the early eighteenth century by Lord Cobham to welcome Stowe’s earliest, if less wealthy garden visitors. Back in the day, invited guests, those with aristocratic connections of course, would likely have stopped in the impressive mansion by invitation. The New Inn, now as I’d assume then is convivial and welcoming, and I felt worth highlighting in this blog.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Red Campion, Silene dioica at Compton Verney. Gary Webb

At Compton Verney, and featured on the grounds notice at the moment is a nice pale pink form of campion, which, whilst I'm referring to it as a red campion, is most likely a cross with white campion, silene latifolia. I find it’s a lovely little addition throughout the wilder areas, and it particularly enjoys living across the banks of the Ice House Coppice, near the lakeside where it out competes the grass that is now growing deep and lush. It’s quite a tough, if delicate looking plant that does well amongst the nettles and docks, and would I’d have thought make a lovely border plant.
It came into flower around mid-May, and will be good for a good few weeks yet, then a few weeks more until it is allowed to seed freely. The deeply forked petals are pretty and stand out subtly amongst the greens of the semi-shaded areas. It is known to attract bumblebees, butterflies and moths.
There’s some good basic information  to be found about Campion – just click on BBC Plantfinder
Along with further information on the useful PlantLife website.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Plane Tree is GO!

The buds have well and truly burst now, and whilst time is short, (it always is at this time of year,) I wanted to pop a little post out to show the tree following folk the progress with my tree so far. The leaves have finally pushed out of those pointed buds, and are unfolding and making the most of our long awaited spring sunshine, the photo below was taken on 15th May 2012.

London Plane at Compton Verney. Gary Webb.
It seems an age since the buds first started to open, and it will be a while yet before the leaves  grow to their full potential, around 25cm their widest. It will eventually form the usual maple-like leaf shape, and as you can see they also possess fine hairs which are shed and said to irritate asthma sufferers.
I'll be passing by the tree often over the coming weeks, and will be watching closely to see the development, bringing the odd photo to record the changes. Do check the link below , where Lucy has posted links to other tree followers, who are following an array of wonderful trees - all unique with a story to tell - the photographs are brilliant - much better than my quickly taken one below! 

Acer x acerifolia at Compton Verney. Gary Webb

Friday, 11 May 2012

Grounds Update May 11th 2012

Out in the grounds and gardens at Compton Verney, time has been in very short supply of late, and an update/record of some kind, for the progress in the grounds is long overdue. As ever, the main subject of late has been the weather, unsurprisingly, for it controls, effects and shapes each and every one of our living days, and this spring has proved particularly challenging. With such a mild late winter and early spring, we could have been forgiven for thinking summer was underway – albeit an early one, but a downward slide into what amounts to a rainy season proved otherwise, and we are now into the last month of spring with no current sign of a let up. At the risk of sounding like just another Englishman rambling on about the weather, I think for once, it could do with a little expansion - so please forgive me!

Rainy Days at Compton Verney. Gary Webb.
Obviously we have no control of the weather, unfortunately, but even though it ultimately directs a gardener’s day, I don’t tend to worry about it or let it overly change my mood – it is what it is, and sometimes we just need to get on with it – come rain hail or shine. Naturally, I pay each weather forecast close attention, as it can influence the type of work we can effectively tackle, consequently the forecast can be vital for work planning, especially where that work involves soil; be it digging or travelling over. Soil, or more correctly, the level of moisture held within, is the governing factor, and the deciding factor as always in a garden is the speed at which the surface drains.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Charlecote Park 2012

My association with Charlecote Park spans just a handful of years, yet my connection and fascination is as deep rooted as if I'd grown up there. Very odd indeed, for I only ever venture past the picturesque park paling as a visitor. The National Trust hold an array of properties, many being estates that were initially built around the needs of one family or another; each has its own identity and is unique in some way. Charlecote is of course unique, just like the rest - if that makes sense?!