A a rare warm day in May we met my sister, Penny and husband Tony, for a walk in the park near their home. But this is no ordinary park – it was Croome a National Trust property near the village of Pershore in Worcestershire. The park and house are undergoing a huge long-term restoration programme. We were pleased to get a chance to enjoy it part way through its rebirth.
The parkland was originally designed by Capability Brown and it is beginning to come back to life after decades of neglect. Sweeping wildflower meadows were punctuated with newly planted trees. From the slightly elevated parts of the park we enjoyed distant views of the Worcestershire countryside.
As we walked along the highest ridge in the park through newly planted shrubs and trees we were amazed to see that one section of the original underground water system had been exposed by a landslip. A glimpse into the genius of those water feature engineers. In places small areas of herbaceous planting had been established. It was refreshing to look at colour close to and in detail as the parkland here is mostly about large-scale views.
A few old specimen trees have survived and their gnarled twisted trunks were a stark contrast to the newly planted shrubs and trees. Beyond them glimpses of the house and church were revealed.
Flowering shrubs seemed particularly happy here with fine examples of sweetly scented Lilac and Hawthorn with their rather unpleasant aroma.
As we left the shrubberies we moved back out into the open passing over an old stone-built bridge over the River Croome where it had been widened out to form a lake. This was typical of the way Capability Brown manipulated the landscape. The fence on the bridge was constructed from the wood of chestnut. This wood makes unusual looking fencing which lasts for centuries without maintenance. (see another post, coming soon, concerning Chestnut trees and fences constructed from their wood)
Overlooking the lake was a grotto which had been lovingly restored and on this extremely hot and humid day it provided some much appreciated shade and cool air. The fissures and cracks within it afforded the local small birds with safe, secret nesting sites. We spotted Wrens, Blue Tits and Coal Tits while we sat and rested a short while. A statue here was dedicated to Sabrina the Goddess of the River Severn. Sabrina is well known to us as our home town, Shrewsbury, huddles within a loop of the River Severn. The goddess lends her name to many a boat and building in the town.
In places the lake’s surface bubbled and frothed with a seething black mass of tadpoles. Amazing!
Our wanderings back to the car park took us along the banks of the River Croome where we were entertained by Sedge Warblers in full song atop waterside plants, through more flower rich meadows.