They days are passing swiftly by and I’m glad to say that the ground preparation, the first stage of work for the William Morris Meadow is finally complete. After a successful crowd-sourcing period (Art Happens) through the charity Art Fund, we were glad to get stuck into the work, especially as the colder autumn nights were closing in.
There’s always peaks and troughs, and this project, due to the weather has been no different. As soon as the funding was confirmed, the weather, typically – took a turn for the worse! The image above shows the meadow sward being cropped earlier in the autumn, the red machine creating large hay bales.
A little further along the line, another tractor, the familiar green and yellow of John Deere arrived to power harrow the area, to expose some soil surface and create a base for sowing the wild flower seed mix. The harrowing was carried out twice due to the wet weather we experienced, as it was important to prepare the ground effectively. There were many areas, particularly nearer to the gallery that needed cultivating by a smaller rotovator – this too needed repeating due to torrential rain stopping play.
After the harrowing experience (sorry!) and after a drying period, the seeding began. For the larger areas this was completed using a drilling machine which also helped level the ground. For the other areas we used a smaller pedestrian spreader to sow, combined with some hand spreading.
Of course, this relatively heavy work left an edge around the entire meadow that needed hand raking to sort. This was essential because following removal of the hay in autumn 2015, we will need to have one level, uniform surface. Thanks to Adam and Anne (our new grounds volunteer!) for joining me and persevering with this arm aching task. The final work at this stage was to roll the area to consolidate and provide as level an area as possible – remembering that next year we hope to have a mown parterre across this area.
And so the final image (already two weeks or so old) shows the prepared and seeded west lawn at Compton Verney, taken from the resource room windows. It’s already greening up nicely due to the amount of existing turf that despite harrowing, was rolled back into place – grass is very resilient!
It is fingers crossed time now, but with mild temperatures persisting, it is good to see some of the new seed shooting forth – happy days indeed! You can keep an eye on our William Morris Meadow progress through this blog, and by searching on google for #CVGrounds
Regards, Gary Webb – Head of Landscape & Gardens at Compton Verney