A castle has stood on the same site at Leeds in Kent for 900 years, and in 1280 Eleanor of Castile laid out a Moorish courtyard garden. Over the centuries following Kings and noblemen have developed the landscape, including Tudor viewing terraces and 19th century cascades. The 20th century saw the great wealth of Lady Baillie once again restore and develop the castle and grounds, a tradition continued by the Leeds Castle Foundation today. Great names have included Russell Page, Stephane Boudin, Simon Verity, the Bannermans, Francois Goffinet and Adrian Fisher, and now the pleasure grounds enter a 21st century period of development.
Started in 2017, the 20th century ‘Wood Garden’ is being transformed Continue reading
Japanese Knotweed flowering (copyright GB non-Native Species Secretariat)
Japanese Knotweed has recently made national headlines, as Network Rail were found liable in the Court of Appeal, for damage from untreated Japanese Knotweed spreading into neighbouring gardens. Japanese Knotweed is one of Britain’s most invasive plants and the prevention of its spread is a legal obligation for landowners under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is difficult and expensive to manage but non-intervention is not really an option. Early treatment of a new colony is quicker, cheaper and preferable to leaving it to become established.
Japanese knotweed was introduced to the UK by the Victorians in the mid 1800s. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew have a record of receiving a plant specimen, sent unsolicited by a keen botanist overseas, on 9 August 1850. The earliest record of a nurseryman selling the plant was in 1854, when neighbouring Kingston nurserymen Messrs Jackson and Son started trading in it , hopefully not relatives of our Matt Jackson! Surrey’s famous garden designer Gertrude Jekyll even recommended the planting of a dwarf version in some of her designs, although she later rescinded, saying it should be “planted with caution.”
Well caution was perhaps an understatement Continue reading
An alarming warning comes from Spring Watch presenter Chris Packham this week (read it here), concerning the gulf between wildlife diversity in our nature reserves and that within the wider countryside.
All of this comes about from 70 years of agricultural intensification, urban sprawl and infrastructure expansion. Our network of Nature Reserves is piecemeal, widely scattered and has no strategic plan or design. All the studies of wildlife populations and distributions show that our current protection measures are simply inadequate. When was it decided that wildlife should be looked after within nature reserves and everything else could be trashed?. Oh and by the way there is no money for managing nature reserves as they are “unproductive”.
Farmers, have been all too happy to call themselves “the guardians of the countryside” but have clearly failed on an epic scale. Continue reading
There are over 140 army museums and collections in the UK, which does not include air or naval forces. Some are vast, with enormous items on show such as the Tank Museum, and some are really quite small, perhaps forming part of a larger museum. None of them are insignificant.
In April 2018 Land and Heritage published an Army Museums National Scoping Report, which looked at the significance, condition and financial resilience of all 140 plus museums. Matt and Clare were commissioned in July 2017 by the Army Museums Ogilby Trust to undertake this, which formed part of their larger resilience project ‘Army Museums into the Future’. As an interpretation and collections specialist Clare was able to make a thorough assessment of just how well the army museums care for their treasures, and what support they might need going forward.
The UK army museums scoping project made contact with a wide and diverse selection of army museums, and the results have returned some very useful, positive information. The Army Museums Ogibly Trust website has an entry for all of the 142 individual museums and collections surveyed, and acts as a portal for researchers and visitors to locate an army collection, and find out more information. This facility is due to be launched by the Trust shortly.
The project has highlighted some very positive trends, and some truly amazing numbers, for example:
Land and Heritage have just hosted the first South West Land and Heritage Symposium at The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Devon. This networking event brought together professionals from the land heritage sector including gardeners, landscape architects, ecologists and archaeologists to highlight a few.
Simon Humphreys, Director of Land and Heritage, opened with these words: Continue reading
A mature oak tree frames a vista on the lawn at Bodnant Garden, North Wales
What makes a tree safe?
When it comes to working on trees it is often a highly emotive subject, especially when they are in very public places, and have powerful connections to community. When a tree fails it can have devastating effect, and yet it is common to see sadly unnecessary interventions to healthy trees, simply on the grounds of ‘safety’.
Professional tree inspectors never assess a tree as safe, they will weigh up many factors to judge likelihood of failure. As a complex natural organism, there are external signs that an inspector can use to determine tree health, from a simple bulge in the trunk to a fruiting fungal body within the tree. A rounded bulge to one side can indicate internal decay, or a vertical rib can mean that a long internal crack is present, each of which can alter the structural capabilities. There are aggressive fungi and passive ones, each having unique decay outcomes, telling us much more about the complex event.