Read about the life and work of the Attingham Wardens

Attingham Park is a National Trust property comprising of an 18th Century mansion set in a Repton landscape; the Park and wider Estate includes a deer park, walled garden, several miles of the rivers Severn and Tern, extensive farmland and woodlands.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Half term

The start of the February half term was incredibly busy at Attingham - a bit of sunshine saw over 4,000 people coming here on Sunday! Saturday was also a good day and the Valentines Tree Planting event saw 87 trees being planted in the grounds for (and in memory of) loved ones. The wardens have just about managed to cope with the influx of cars but with the ground still wet from months of rain it has been something of a struggle to find enough dry ground to park on. Thankfully the rain has stayed off and despite the cold end to the holiday the ground is finally starting to dry off (touch wood!).

As well as managing the car parking our teams have been hedgelaying, cutting out old and un-rescuable hedges and replanting them, burning brash, trimming up the side shoots on our young cricket-bat willows, mending the cleft oak fence along the park perimeter and helping to prepare for the evening snowdrop walks. The final snowdrop evening is tonight, and I will be here until 8pm feeding the bonfire so that visitors wishing to enjoy their mulled wine outside can stay warm. Like last year, the path from the Stables to the Walled Garden will be candle lit and the snowdrops are at their peak, softly lit with fairy lights. 

Today is also the last day of deer feeding in front of the public. With the trees starting to bud and the grass growing, they no longer need the supplementary feed. The cull will also be finishing in the next week or so now that herd numbers are nearly perfect, so if you want some venison make sure you get it soon!

To finish, here are a couple of pictures taken by volunteer Phil - these beautiful specimens were found on some rotting willow on one of our farms. Gorgeous colours!

Tree Felling

This post was written by Jess Darwin, our Academy Ranger, who has been putting in a lot of hours on the chainsaw for the tree felling project:

As some of you may have noticed some tree felling work has been going on near the Walled Garden along the Mile Walk and we can now report that the felling part of the project is now complete! The work has been carried out by our contractor tree surgeon, staff and lots of fantastic volunteers who are still clearing the site ready for the next stage of moving the timber. Though the work may seem drastic this felling was essential work and necessary for numerous reasons.

Firstly, proving that restoration is not just for objects indoors, this landscaping and tree felling is an exciting and important part of a long-term project to restore the walk to its original design as the first Lord Berwick’s Pleasure Grounds.

Alongside the restoration project for this area the trees were also causing the south facing wall of Walled Garden fruit trees to be shaded during the day, which isn’t good for the apricots, plums and other trees which need plenty of warmth and sunlight to produce their fruits in summer.

Carefully counted tree rings place the trees at an age of 72, so they were probably planted as coppice stools during WWII to supply the Walled Garden with bean poles and hurdle material. However, unfortunately the trees weren’t subsequently managed for coppicing purposes or allowed to grow properly for a timber crop and consequently grew tall and thin in a close group.

The trees that have been felled are all Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) but we’d like to stress that the felling was not due to the recent Ash dieback disease (Chalara fraxinea) as this work has been planned for several years and the disease is not present on the Attingham Estate.

The next big step in this project is clearing the timber off the site for processing into usable materials which will be put to good use by Attingham Estate. All the wood is used to help to support our sustainable woodland management through self sufficiency and firewood sales.

Frosty morning finishing the felling

Tree surgeon Seamus Hill
Our engagement site for informing visitors about the works

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

February begins...

More flooding! The post-thaw deluge caused us some problems again as the Deer Park became inaccessible from both the suspension bridge and main gate. Once the waters receded the full damage to the causeway was revealed - the water had washed away much of the path at its lowest point, leaving a hole nearly two feet deep in in the worst spot. We spent a day filling and leveling the hole to make it into a passable surface but more work will be done soon to compact the layers and complete the repair.

Now that the ground is drying out a bit we can crack on with the hedge planting - remember those 10,000 whips we heeled in? On Monday a team of volunteers braved the bitter wind and we went to Cronkhill farm to plant a new hedge. We used a mixture of hawthorn and blackthorn so gloves were a must! There were a few wet feet as the planting was running along side a fence and a ditch but the team did a fantastic job and there are just 50 metres to go.

Today we went to Wenlock Edge to coppice hazel and get more stakes and binders for tomorrow's hedgelaying while another team made some alterations to the WWII path in the Deer Park and moved a gate; volunteers David and Martin also spent the day in our butchery packing some more venison for the shop. Thank you to all of our volunteers who have been in this week, it is hard work in the cold weather but everyone has got on with the jobs brilliantly!