Thursday, 28 June 2012

Grounds Update June 27th 2012

What crazy weather we are having! After a long and dry summer in 2011, when grass growth slowed enough to help us get on with other jobs, such as watering the new tree planting, it has swung in the other direction this season - being so wet we can hardly keep up with the growth rate. The warmth is there for sure, in fact it's been quite humid, but again this aids the growth rate, keeping us on our toes. The positives are there to be seen however, with lovely lush foliage and healthy growth throughout the grounds; the new plantings especially have settled in really nicely.

Time to wander through the grounds with a decent camera is always at a premium at this time of year, and photographs, those on this post included, are most often grabbed on my mobile whilst passing - please forgive those that are less than great! There are so many instances when I want to seize the moment with an image: an insect; a perfect bloom; shimmering reflections under the arch of a bridge - so many I could do with a camera hanging permanently around my neck. I'm so lucky, if a little frustrated, to be able to work in such a beautiful environment where photo opportunities come along often - at least to me! Anyhow, here are a few snaps with something of an update

Adopt a Tree at Compton Verney
Painterly skies reach from ridge to ridge at Compton Verney, and on this day the sun beams down on the lush East Park meadow. Now enjoying its second year with a mown path, the park remains a haven for flora and fauna, and allows visitors a peaceful circular walk where seldom seen views to the mansion can be enjoyed, and where the scale of the designed landscape can be really appreciated. Unsurprisingly, I have little time out there, but when the opportunity arises, the insect buzz amongst the sward is very special and worth the effort. The flowers shine out from sward as though they've been sprinkled like confetti, and the butterflies flutter-by from grassy blades to brassy flowers. The meadow will remain lush for a couple more weeks yet, so if you are visiting do take a trip around the meadow, it is well worth the effort.  

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Garden Museum

It’s been on my agenda to visit the Garden Museum in London for so long that I’d almost given up hope of making it, last Friday however the opportunity finally arose and I feel bound therefore to log my visit here for posterity! I arrived following a walk along the Thames from Westminster in the pouring rain, which tried hard to spoil that well known view across the river to the Palace. I was so glad to arrive, feeling a little damp around the edges, and was thankful for the entrance vestibule which allowed me space to peel off my waterproofs before heading into museum to dry out.  

Garden Museum-London-2012-Gary Webb.

Friday, 15 June 2012


Designed landscapes offer a relaxation zone where people can, if they choose drift into serenity, to imagine an old world where Mother Nature once ruled the land and ordinary folk toiled to make the best of it. Many people I suspect access our countryside and estates wishing only to savour the here and now, whilst also remaining respectful of conservation - wishing not to see it changed or spoilt in any way - and rightfully so. When looking at these landscapes however, time has in many cases fudged the boundaries between carefully designed and planted areas, and those that have received later layers of planting, be they natural or introduced. Either way, the elements generally merge to form a complete and seemingly natural landscape, and are embraced and enjoyed by one and all.

Compton Verney-October 2011-Gary Webb.
The unfortunate fact is that for many people, it is hard to distinguish what was originally meant to be in a landscape, how it was supposed to look, and what indeed has crept in to confuse the scene. In some cases they were destined to be transient, with their current form now entirely appropriate for modern use. Unfortunately however, with passing time it’s all too easy for the amazing efforts of earlier land owners and workers to go totally unnoticed, and therefore un-appreciated, sadly.
Stowe-Gothic Temple Gary Webb.
Despite this, a good deal of our naturalistic landscape parks and gardens are managed beautifully, retaining an age old appearance whilst still allowing modern visitors to enjoy them in a variety of ways; from country walks to rock concerts. However, how many of those current visitors really know how precious these landscapes are, really know how they have evolved, or even try to understand how they work? Surely there must be lots of people who might be encouraged to visit, and therefore support the maintenance of a landscape if we could work out which method of engagement suited them most, be it on hard copy, with audio trails, through events or through mobile technology.

Maybe people need landscapes to be more transparent, or to have the stories of these places teased out more effectively – and which landscape doesn’t have a story or three! By interpreting our artistically designed landscapes more effectively, somehow showing how they were conceived, paid for, looked after and so on, then surely we'll make them more interesting – just think of the rise in interest for visitors who enjoy the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour, where they learn what it was like for the servants, the gardeners and labourers in the wood-yard etc.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Plane Trees in London

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee has brought my focus once again to our capital, and with so much of the Jubilee activity being in the open air, my attention has frequently drifted to the trees that have been evident, most notably along Pall Mall. I thought it worthwhile therefore to bring together a few links for anyone who might also have wondered about those very trees that brought a touch of English greenery to the overall scene.
The trees I am referring to are, as far as I could trace - London Plane trees. They are planted widely throughout the capital, and indeed give the tree its commonly known name. Even allowing for their considerable size, they are to be found growing in cities all around the world, for a number of useful reasons. Along with an aesthetically pleasing mottled trunk, and a tolerance to pollarding, the maple shaped foliage is practical in its shade provision, and also in its resistance to pollution. Those shown on our screens over the last few days of the jubilee were most notable along Pall Mall, which was lined also with thousands of cheering people, focusing attention towards the Victoria Memorial to the front of Buckingham Palace.
The London Plane, or Platanus x acerifolia, is detailed nicely on the links below, which I feel give a reasonable introduction to the tree in its London setting. I've also taken the opportunity to add a link to my blog, where you'll find more information on a Plane Tree that I am currently 'following'. In 'Gardening Ways', I'll explain all about the Plane tree growing a little closer to home at Compton Verney, in Warwickshire. 

I hope you find the links useful and interesting: