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.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Future Parkland Giants

Last week we were finally able to start our project of planting well over 100 new and replacement trees in the Deer Park. Each tree will be planted  and protected with a five-sided hurdle guard to prevent the deer from nibbling at it - we are making the guards out of old fencing, recycling them by cutting them to size and joining them together with brackets and bolts so that they can be moved in the future for more trees. It's hard work cutting hundreds of hurdles with a Stihl saw but once they are up, secured, levelled and the bolts are trimmed and filed they make fantastic, long lasting and attractive tree guards. We are planting mostly oak to replace our many fine veterans, with some horse chestnut and hawthorn. We have also had some time with Ben Shipston, Assistant Director of Operations for the Midlands, as he came out to meet some of our volunteer team and plant a few trees with us - you can see the result of his digging skills for yourselves at the top of the Deer Park near the concrete track that leads to the woodland walk! This job will keep the wardens busy for the next few weeks, along with getting the camp ground ready for the first of this years bookings, spraying the newly planted hedges as the first flush of grass and weeds come up and preparing for Easter.
Cutting the hurdles to size

Harper student Charley cutting the bolts flush and smooth

ADO Ben Shipston on a mission to Australia!

A future giant begins its long life

Saturday 14th March saw Attingham holding its first ever Night Run with around 350 people racing six kilometers around the mile walk  or two kilometers across the meadow under starry skies. The warden staff were there as marshals and helping to set up and take down for the event, which was a huge success - well done to everyone that took part.

Finally it is that time of year again - the ravens are nesting. You may have seen these beautiful birds circling around the park and calling with that distinctive 'tak tak tak'. It can be difficult to judge just how large they are until you see them up close - they have a wingspan of 120-150cm -  and last week I was lucky enough to see one gliding low over the deer park and gleaming in the sun. The nests are also huge, as you can see from this picture! The young ravens will soon be growing and fledging and we look forward to spotting them.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Bring a brolly!

I write this post from the dry sanctuary of the office having run in from a downpour whilst feeding the deer! The weather is incredibly changeable at the moment, so plenty of layers, waterproofs, wellies and sunglasses are a must!

March marks the start of spring in the calendar and we are all looking forward to longer days and the Park greening up with new vegetation. On sunny days I've heard skylarks singing over the farmland fields and the rooks by the stables are busily (and noisily) building nests. From today, the park and walled garden are open from 8am until 6pm to make the most of the sun.

The wardens have planted nearly 4000 hedging whips in the last few weeks, with the final ones going in this week. It can be hard work in the mud and frost but a cuppa from the kelly kettle can makce all the difference, especially if there is a fire to warm up by as we burn the brash from the laid hedge. As usual the planted hedges are 80% hawthorn, with a mixture of hazel, field maple, crab apple, guelder rose and blackthorn making up the rest.
Last week I attended a course at Hatfield Forest on caring for veteran trees and veteranisation of younger trees. It was fascinating, and a chance to admire some wonderful ancient trees - hornbeam pollards and layered hawthorns that are many hundreds of years old. Veteran trees are an invaluable habitat for so many species of insect, bird and fungi and it is important to have other trees nearby that will provide the same habitat once the original veteran has died - this is where veteranisation may be key, if an age gap in the woodland exists. Holes, decay, cracks, water pockets - these features can be encouraged in younger trees to mimic the veteran tree habitats.