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 27 March 2016

Bluebells are coming

After a cracking Good Friday and more typical Easter Saturday (I've stayed drier when swimming!) I've been out and about in the grounds and found the first bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) in flower - hooray! It will be a few more weeks before we get a really stunning display but keep your eyes peeled next time you are out and about in woodland.

We have planted up the new orchard, finished gapping up hedges and have used up the rest of our shrubs and trees at Duncote Farm to create a 100x5 metre planting. We have put in a few black poplar on one end to see if they take in the wetter ground. The horse chestnut buds are starting to burst into leaf, the rooks are busily finishing their nests and the blackthorn is in bloom - spring is here again.

Burn off some chocolate eggs and join our Countryside Manager on Sunday 3rd April on a walk exploring our oldest and newest orchards - the walk starts at 2pm from the Stables courtyard, £2 per adult and children go free. It will be a chance to walk around some of the Estate that you will not have seen before!

Thursday 3 March 2016

A record breaking year

March already? The year is flying by!

The ranger team have been flying around the estate working on lots of different projects, all while reduced in numbers from various illnesses so please bear with me if the updates are sporadic! The Smethcote lane hedge has been finished with just the brash to be burned once we can gather it up - we need the field to dry out a bit before we can drive on and scoop it up. Our team plus some of the SSNTV have laid a good long section of maiden hedge along another nearby lane, and we are now beavering away on a 100m section of much older hedge at Cronkhill Farm.

A Schwegler 2F bat box
We have finished pruning back the cherry trees along the MT shed lane to stop them from getting tangled in phone lines and begun a tidying job in the woods to clear up brash and timber left over from the resurfacing of the Woodland Walk. We have hung more bird boxes at Betton Farm and some bat boxes behind our workshop, helped to build a chicken coop in the Walled Garden for the new birds, put up new fencing around Berwick New House Farm and at the back of the Walled Garden for the new nursery and continued to produce hundreds of kilos of venison in the butchery. The final cull is tomorrow morning so there will only be a few more weeks of venison preparation and packing, and it also means that Bob and I get our Thursday evenings back without having to go back to work and lock up the park!

Our first guided walk of the year was a big success last Sunday with Charlotte showing a group round the Mile Walk looking at winter tree identification. The new 2016 events leaflet is now available and has all of our walks printed on it for the year if you would like to join us - as well as some old favourites we have some new walks this year, including a tour of the best photography spots, meet the Parkland Gardeners and an all ability walk that will be very short in distance but full of information on how we manage the park.

Next week we are working with pupils from a local primary school who will be helping us to plant up the new orchard at Berwick Wharf. The orchard will be mixed fruit, made up of apples, pears, quinces, plums, greengages, mirabelles and a medlar - I'm very excited to see how this orchard turns out and look forward to a delicious harvest in a few years time. Mirabelles are part of the prunus family and the fruits are very small, rounded plums, almost cherry sized. If you are wondering what a medlar looks like there is one growing outside the Bothy by the Walled Garden - the fruits make a very tasty jelly.

We have a lot of timber to gather in from woodland thinnings and dangerous tree works which will be dried, chipped and stored to use in the biomass boiler that will be built later this year to heat the Stables and Mansion. One issue at the moment is access to the wood - the ground is still so wet in places from the soggy winter and flooding that we can't pull the wood out without risking getting stuck or making a huge mess.
Flooding at Brompton earlier this year as seen from the entrance to Cronkhill Farm
After a hectic day last Sunday I decided to finish the day with a stroll in the late afternoon sun rather than to drive to lock up for the night. As I walked I startled a hare from a tussock of grass and watched it hurtle across the field at top speed. To my delight it was soon joined by another, then another and then suddenly there were five hares in the far end of the field lolloping around - a fantastic sight and a first for me. This evening I crossed paths with a badger, who appeared completely unbothered by my presence as he trotted along with great purpose. You never know what you may see when out and about on the Attingham estate!

March 1st is the start of another new financial year and 2015 saw Attingham having another record-breaking year in terms of visitor numbers - despite not having a Frost Fair or Food Fair we had over 403,000 people through the door. Let's see what 2016 brings!