These winter months are the time of year I try to carry out any ‘estate’ maintenance along with completing the pruning of the climbing/rambling roses, wisteria, vines, the apples and pear trees.
These all require the use of a ladder, which in the past has involved balancing on the top of a rather unsteady step ladder. Having some time ago reached the age where I don’t bounce so well and not wishing to add to the queues at the local hospital A&E department I have invested in a Henchman ladder. This is one of the best investments I have made in garden equipment. The ladder is similar to the Japanese tripod ladders, with adjustable leg heights to accommodate different ground levels and a bar at the top that you can safely lean into, so long as you don’t go any higher than recommended. This feature doesn’t seem to appear on the Japanese ladders which was the deciding factor for me when making my choice. They are made in the UK from aluminium and therefore very light to carry and come in different sizes. I did feel very safe using it this year, it can also serve as a coffee table!
You can view more details Henchman Ladders.
Two jobs required the help of a local builder, one has been the replacement of the walls to the raised herb bed. I originally built it, in 2004, with treated timber planks, as these have rotted away in places, I decided to replace them with new sleeper timbers.
This bed is also home to a climbing ‘Albertine’ rose, on the trellis, a red currant fan trained along the side fence and a standard red gooseberry in the centre. The new bed is not as big, therefore more of the herbs will be in either terracotta pots or the old galvanised bath and buckets.
The lawn just off the patio always looks a mess, especially at this time of year, it is not very wide and all the foot traffic passes through here ( human and animal ). I have had it edged with porous black pavers, to match the ones incorporated into the patio design. Wether the grass remains, in this small area, or is replaced with gravel, is yet to be decided. Another option is artificial grass, I am following Cathy at Rambling in the Garden’s progress, with interest, to see how she gets on with her small installation.
I have also edged the fence along the Green and White garden with the pavers to save having to strim the grass.
Our neighbour has a willow (Salix) tree right against the boundary fence by the Oriental garden. We have dropped several, so far unsuccessful, hints regarding keeping it pollarded to prevent it becoming to dominant.
I decided to remove the worst offending boughs, the main branches will be placed, in a corner of the garden, to become a wildlife sanctuary, with the whips along with some Cornus trimmings, being woven into a small natural edge to the bed behind the banana bench. The remainder will be chipped for mulching around the shrubs in the Oriental garden.
My compost bins are in a poor state of repair and need replacing. I have for two years, had one of the local authority garden waste recycling bins. This has reduced the need for so many bins here. I have replaced one with an extra leaf bin, this is such a useful garden by-product, either for mulching or adding to potting compost that I don’t send it away from the garden.
We have recently taken delivery of 400 NGS Worcestershire County booklets this month to distribute around local shops, libraries and any garden clubs we visit. We also have our county AGM and lunch this month, where we garden openers collect all the publicity material for our open days. It reminds us the clock is ticking ( I think I have heard that before with a french accent!)
We have been fortunate to have recently enjoyed some winter sun, thus enabling me to make some progress on the maintenance list, while enjoying the winter sunshine, entertained by bird song.
What winter maintenance projects do you have for your garden?
One of our favourite local places to visit is Croome Court (NT).
Ideally situated for a walk in the park land, visit to the house, church and end up with refreshments in the restaurant. During busy periods refreshments are served from a Tea Car and in a cafe in the Court.
“Croome Park was Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s first complete landscape design. He was brought to Croome in 1752 by George William Coventry, the 6th Earl of Coventry, who had just inherited Croome Court and its deer parks together with 15,000 acres of Worcestershire.
The new Earl was 28 years old and full of ideas on the new movement towards classicism in architecture and landscape design and probably saw the young Brown as a man whose aspirations matched his own. Together they set about transforming the 17th century house and its Dutch style parterre garden into an undulating rural idyll set about with trees and lakes and rolling away to the distant Malvern Hills. At the focal point of this scene sits the house, Croome Court, which was given a total face-lift that changed it into the Palladian style mansion that we see today
But there is a practical reason behind all this beauty – Croome Court sat on the edge of a bog. Brown, though, had an instinctive talent for understanding drainage and water management, so he created a lake and a mile and a half long serpentine river to draw away all the surplus water. His scheme worked and so the basis for the creation of what seems an entirely natural English landscape was set.”
From Friends of Croome website: http://www.friendsofcroomepark.org.uk
The Church, within the park is, St Mary Magdalene Church, Croome D’Abitot, which is a redundant Anglican church.
The original church at Croome was demolished by the 6th Earl of Coventry when he decided to replace his adjacent Jacobean house in the 1750s. His new house and park were designed and laid out by Capability Brown as was the church, set on a low hill nearby in Croome Park.
The Chinese bridge, originally designed by William Halfpenny in the 1740s for the 6th Earl of Coventry is in the popular Chinese style. The bridge spanned the river close to Croome Court and linked the house to the wider parkland. Sadly, the bridge is thought to have been lost to rot and decay only 100 years after it was built.
A new English Oak bridge was opened in 2017, identically built, using the original plans.
There was originally a deer park at Croome, they can occasionally be seen in the surrounding landscape. Today the wildlife is mainly squirrels and birds. Water fowl enjoy the river and there is a bird hide for visitors, looking out on to a collection of bird feeders.
If you are visiting Worcestershire, please add NT Croome Court to your itinerary.
Visitor information can be found Here
Do you have a favourite walk?