Tag Archive: stumpery


Our second trip to a notable Lake District house and garden was Sizergh Castle, an imposing house standing proud at the gateway to the Lake District. Still lived in by the Strickland family, Sizergh has many tales to tell and certainly feels lived in, with centuries-old portraits and fine furniture sitting alongside modern family photographs. The exceptional wood panelling culminates in the Inlaid Chamber, returned here in 1999 from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

‘A true patchwork of styles, taking a stroll through the House will lead you from the base of the medieval solar tower, through the Elizabethan interiors, into the French regency-styled Drawing Room and beyond. Cherished family photos sit alongside precious antiques, linking the past with the present day. In a house full of contrasts, fine craftsmanship can be seen throughout, from the impressive collection of Gillows furniture, to the stunning Italian-designed ceilings. They all have stories to tell, not least of all the splendid Victorian dining table, which awaits your uncovering of its tales and secrets. From the Battle of Agincourt, to the fight for Malta during the Second World War, the Strickland’s involvement in over 700 years of national history can be uncovered first-hand at Sizergh. ‘

The 647-hectare (1,600-acre) estate includes limestone pasture, orchards and semi-natural woodland. Its rich and beautiful garden includes a pond, lake, a national collection of hardy ferns and a superb limestone rock garden.

Unfortunately an urgent medical need meant my visit was shortened, so some areas of the gardens I will need to return to. But I managed to meet the Head Gardener and compliment her on the quality of the planting in the herbaceous borders (with some clever twiggy supports) and the ‘square foot gardening’ in the kitchen garden. I also loved the Stumpery which shows off the ferns to great effect.

Further information: National Trust website

Old School Gardener

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Peter and Ed spreading shredded bark in the new 'Bug Village'

Peter and Ed spreading shredded bark in the new ‘Bug Village’

Apologies for the title, but I couldn’t resist it. I guess a more serious alternative would be ‘weaving and strewing’!

So my latest session at Blickling Hall involved working with fellow volunteer Peter and Gardener Ed on a new project in part of the Dell Garden; this is an area that’s looked a little neglected for some time and it was good to see some work to create something different.

This was a really fun, creative day as we helped Ed work up his idea of creating a ‘Bug Village’ of different insect hotels/habitats (with fun historical references to Blickling’s owners) in a largely shady and overgrown spot.

Ed had already done some clearing of the ground and had in his mind a rough layout. We started by continuing the hazel pea stick fence he’d begun which provides a really effective, simple, permeable barrier through which you can see into different parts of the area. These sticks are harvested every year from the Estate and put to use to support climbers and vegetables of various sorts. Peter hammered in a metal fence post to create holes about 6″ apart and I pushed home the sticks and wove them together.

After this we collected several loads of shredded bark and strew these over the areas where the bug hotels were to go- a mixture of different types of habitat and mixed in with some impressive stumps and enormous slices of chestnut tree felled elsewhere in the estate and, as Ed said ‘no good for firewood’. It was great ‘designing on the hoof’ with Ed and Peter, creating bays and spots where different elements of the layout could be best fitted in.

In particular there is an elevated spot overlooking the rest of the space which would make a wonderful spot for a seat, and Ed had already identified a wonderful piece of timber- a half round slice of Oak, I think, which would make the perfect base for this. We also helped to gather smaller edging logs which further helped to define the space and again filled in around and shrubs trees with more shredded bark.

On the way...

On the way…

It will be great to see how Ed progresses this in the coming weeks and what visitors think of this new feature- created from recycled materials from around the Estate.

 Further Information:

Blickling Hall website

Blickling Hall Facebook page

A 360 degree tour of Blickling Hall

Old School Gardener

 

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