All the latest news & events from the garden and the National Trust in Bath

Trees & Plants

Spring Flowers and a World audience

We have recently published a delightful little leaflet all about the Spring Flowers that can been seen here in the Park. It is well worth picking up when you next come to the Garden and then using it to identify some of the many wonderful spring flowers we have dotted about the place.

This is one of 10 wonderful drawings of Spring Flowers(Common Dog Violet) done especially for Prior Park by Jan Robertson. She is now working on a Summer version.

On a totally different note just to give you an idea of the World wide audience we have. In the past week we have had people from 18 different countries access the blog. These are;

UK, USA, Malaysia, Indonesia, France, Pakistan, Vietnam, Hungary, Australia, Tunisia, Japan, Croatia, Leichenstein, Iceland, Thailand, Germany, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.

It would be really great if you were able to get in touch and tell us what you think of the gardens.


Oh! the mundaneness of it all

Whenever I write one of these blogs it always seems to be about the more interesting things that go on throughout the Garden. Today I thought I would champion the ordinary. So much of the work that goes on in  the  Park is everyday sort of stuff, grass cutting, pruning, clearing, raking, picking up litter, moving things from one place to another. And of course there is weeding, from now on for the next six months or so we will be weeding and strimming almost constantly. Luckily we have very dedicated volunteers who are very willing to spend all day pulling out nettles, brambles, goose grass, buttercups, bind weed…….it’s none stop.

So I would like to thank Michelle, Ron, John and Martin (who has come all the way from France to help us out, more about him in later blogs), who have spent the day making the garden look as good as it does.

Ron and Martin doing some vital weeding

John and Michelle doing equally important wood splitting

On another note we have had Tree surgeons in again today making safe some unsafe trees, so thanks to them as well!


Wild about Garlic

This coming Sunday (22 April) we are having some cooking demonstations on how to cook and use Wild Garlic. These will be at 12pm, 1[m, 2pm, 3pm. The 3pm slot is an additional one by the Thoughtful Bread Co. who are going to show how to make Artisan Wild Garlic Bread, Griddled crackers adn Blue Cheese Muffins. You can almost smell the delights already. Oh and do not worry if it rains we will have shelters.

Our Wild Garlic flowers are bursting out all over the garden at present. Well worth a special visit. Picture taken last year!


Snake’s Head Fritillary

Some of the Fritillary in the Summerhouse Glade

Now is the time to come and see our wondrous display of Snake’s Head Fritillary found in the Summerhouse Glade. They are a rather special site which seems to get better every year. The ones with the chequered purple heads really are a treat.


Gorgeous Garlic

Here is a little bit of publicity for our ‘Gorgeous Garlic’ event

We are haveing a series of wild garlic cooking demonstrations by the lake showing you how to use this delicious and abundant plant. Gather it from the slopes as you walk through the park, then watch wild garlic go from picked to plate before your very eyes!

Take home recipe cards and experiment at home or enter your own Wild Garlic recipe into our competition for your chance to win a £45 voucher for the Vegetarian Cookery School. All demos and tastings are completely free and shelter will be on hand in case of rain.

Sunday 22nd April
(World Heritage Day – free entry to the garden)

12 noon – Simi’s Kitchen.
Local chef and organic food advocate Simi Rezai introduces us to wild garlic and shows us how to cook up two mouth-watering dishes. Her stunning wild garlic saag aloo will be served all fortnight at Prior Park’s tea kiosk.

1pm – Lemon’s and Honey Children’s Workshop
Julia Handel of Lemon’s and Honey Cookery School in Wellow specialises in cooking for children. At the moment she is getting youngsters excited about local and wild foods. Her hands-on workshop is for kids of all ages so come prepared to get messy!

2pm – Bath Soup Co.
Social entrepreneur Dominic Povey of Bath Soup Company and his head chef will demonstrate how to make a delicious and hearty wild garlic soup. Tasting sessions with wholesome wild garlic bread from The Thoughtful Bread Company.

Sunday 29th April
(Normal garden entry rates apply)

12 noon – Tyntesfield Estate Chefs
Talented chef James Blakemoor from National Trust’s Tyntesfield Estate will share his tips and tricks, whipping up a rack of lamb with wild garlic crust among other delights

2pm – Bath FoodCycle
FoodCycle is a charity dedicated to reducing food waste and redistributing edible food surplus to those in need. Volunteers will demonstrate ways to turn your leftovers into yummy meals – using wild garlic as the secret ingredient!

Why not come along and enjoy the garlic in all its forms.

The Wild Garlic (Ramsons) in the green.


Spring Daffodils

Spring is always a really great time to visit Prior Park with its myriad of greens and subtle hues it becomes a truly a wondrous place. One of the great signs of spring is the humble Daffodil, which this year can be seen at their best in the Summerhouse Glade. Most of our daffs. are the nearest thing to wild natural daffodils that you can get. They are small and subtle but when seen in their thousands are a spectacular sight. Look out in a couple of weeks for our pasture display which tends to bloom a little later.

The Daffodils in the Summerhouse Glade


The Great Leap Forward

As today only comes around once every 4 years The National Trust decided to make the most of it. We have had members of staff doing tasks they wouldn’t normally do around the local community. So out on the Bath Skyline, very close to Prior Park, we have had staff from all departments and sites working very hard removing encroaching scrub and thus exposing our rather splendid Yellow meadow ant hills. this way everyone benefits, the general public, the staff and the ants.

Some of the team that did all the hard work

Some of the scrub before we got to it

The Hawthorn after the team had got to it


Champion

Last week I told you about our Champion tree. A Champion tree is one that is either the tallest of its species or largest in girth. Ours is a Norway Maple  Acer platanoides and stands at the dizzy height of 36 metres, beating the previous record tree, which can be found in Scotland,  by a good couple of metres.

The Tallest Norway Maple in the land, and it can be found here at Prior Park


Big Bird Day

Don’t forget tomorrow, Wednesday 15th February, is our big bird day. Come and see and learn about the birds we have at Prior Park. You will be able to walk around the park with members of the RSPB spotting a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. Also why not adopt one of our many a nesting boxes around the gardens. While you are at it,

One of the many birds you might see here on Wednesday

you will be able to see our newly crowned champion tree, a Norway Maple that is now officially the tallest Norway Maple in the country.


Snowdrops and a Blue tit

Just a reminder that our Snowdrops should be looking pretty good this next week, once we have got over the cold snap. They were looking a little sad in the deep frost this morning but soon perked up in the sun. The cold weather has also meant that our bird feeders have been over run with birds. In five minutes we had numerous Great and Blue tits visiting together with Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Robin and Coal tits.

One of our many visitors

Snowdrops basking in the sun


Compost

It’s not all glamour working here for The National Trust. Sometimes, well a lot actually, we have to get our hands dirty. One of those jobs is turning the compost we produce from wood chippings and other organic material. It can be quite fun and dramatic with steam everywhere as you can see. It is essential that the compost is turned on a regular basis in order to keep it aerated, and help with the whole composting process.

Stream rising from the newly turned compost heap


Goldcrest and Golden Daffodils

The Goldcrest seen this morning in the park, this is our smallest native bird.

Some early Daffodils found in the Summerhouse glade

Two things sprang out at me this morning as I walked around the Park. This Goldcrest feeding on insects under one of our large Yews, oblivious to all around it. Plus some early daffodils in the Summerhouse Glade competing for attention with the newly flowering Snowdrops.

 


Snowdrops

Snowdrops are a splendid sign of the Spring to come. With the very mild winter we have had so far our Snowdrops are already showing well. We have been gradually expanding and improving our display by the process of splitting bulbs and planting new plants. This was mostly done by visitors last year and already a lot of the new bulbs are in flower. They really are a worthwhile sight and should be at their peak in a week or so. I will keep you informed

Spring is coming early this year!


The Ice House has a new path

Kirsty and Frank laying the new chippingsThe new path in all its glory

Every cloud has a silver lining  as they say. With all these trees we had to remove recently we have produced a large amount of very good wood chippings. This is used as a dressing on some of our woodland paths around the park. The splendid Thursday volunteers and myself spent the day widening and resurfacing the path to the Ice House. A very pleasant and satisfying task, and well worth it as you can see.


Bridge of highs

Here is a great picture of the Palladian bridge taken from a really unusual perspective. It was taken by Stuart one of the tree surgeons working in the garden, while he was at the top of an Sycamore tree we had to remove for safety reasons. A unique shot I think you’ll agree.

The Palladian Bridge taken from the top of a Sycamore © Stuart Roberts


Christmas Holly

It really has been a bumper year for berries on our Holly this year. This is normally because we have had a good Summer with plenty of sun and rain, well at least we had the rain. The berries are a particular favourite of  Thrushes, Fieldfare and Redwings and the leaves and flower buds are one of the main larval foods of the, rather unsurprisingly, Holly Blue Butterfly.

But of course this time of the year it make great Christmas decoration. So with that in mind, have a Very Happy Christmas and see you next year.

A Very Merry Christmas



Roe Deer

It seems appropriate this time of the year to see Deer, we have 3 semi resident Roe deer roaming the park. They are mostly found lurking on the west side, in an area we know as the Midland Bank. They can be quite hard to see because they are incredibly well camouflaged but I have been lucky to see them every day this week. Here you see a picture of one I saw last year in the same spot. But if Deer eat your Roses please don’t blame us they are wild creatures and will roam over a large area. Some say as far as the North Pole, but I’m not so sure of that!

One of the Little Beauties seen on the Midland Bank


The Laurel pruning comes to an end, at last!

It seems a long time ago when we started the Laurel pruning, it is a long time ago. We started way back in September and at last it’s come to an end. I think this has been a record, one I don’t want to break.

Leigh with the penultimate load of Laurel, no wonder he's happy


Great spotted woodpecker and Mallards

I had a very pleasant walk around the park this morning with Roger one of our volunteers looking at the most notable trees we have in the garden. This is to enable him to put together a leaflet for the visitors telling them what trees we have and some of the outstanding features of them. In the short time it took to walk around we saw or heard:

Pied wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Raven, Buzzard, Mallard, Wren, Long-tailed tit, Mute swan, Redwing, Fieldfare, Blue tit, Great tit, Moorhen, Coot, Grey heron , and Great spotted woodpecker.  The Great spotted woodpecker was the most exciting sighting for me as I have never actually seen one in the park, heard many but never seen one. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it so here is one of our Mallards instead

A Male Mallard, honest

 


Leaves, leaves, leaves

It is a non stop job at the moment dealing with the falling leaves. We had a team of 3 blowing them off the paths and grass areas nearly all day yesterday, only to find a whole new carpet has arrived this morning. Still they make the place look really great and of course it’s great fun using the blowers.
Our new bird feeders are well and truly up and running with a constant stream of visiting birds (and squirrels) to them. They definitely add colour to the whole place.

A great new addition to the Tea Kiosk area

The constant task of moving leaves this time of year


It is always good to meet followers of these pages, like I did on Wednesday in the garden at Dyrham. Any comments or feedback would be gratefully received.


Rainy day

We’re all warm and cosily tucked up in the office today but I ventured outside to take a few pictures in the rain. All our Halloween decorations are looking a bit bedraggled and forlorn but I managed to find some red berries that still looked cheerful! Huge respect to all the brave visitors who have ventured out into the garden, at least we have some lovely spicy pumpkin soup in the tea kiosk to warm them up!


Prior Park on BBC Radio Bristol

Early in September, Steve Yabsley, presenter of BBC Radi0 Bristol’s weekday lunchtime show, visited the garden. Jim showed him round and told him a bit about our work in the garden, its main features and the wildlife that can be seen. Steve will be featuring Prior Park on his show every day next week between 1.30-2!


Squirrels, Green woodpeckers and lofty Herons

A quick update on what has been going on for the past couple of weeks. The work in the garden has been progressing nicely. The main emphasis being on Laurel pruning, which is drawing to an end but we still have more to do even after all this time. Plus the mini cascade down by the Gothic Temple site is coming on in leaps and bounds.

Autumn is well and truly upon us with the leaves turning, the days drawing in but the grass shows no sign of slowing down. We seemed to be constantly grass cutting this summer but surely even it needs a bit of a rest.

Meanwhile our wildlife just goes about the daily business of being. The Coots and Mallards wander about and make a lot of noise, while our Mute swans have gone off for their winter break and hopefully will return in the New Year. A Grey wagtail and Green woodpecker were feeding by the lake side, both a lovely colourful sight. The Squirrels have also been very active these past couple of days scurrying about, looking for and burying conkers and acorns.

All the while the Grey herons look on imperiously from their lofty perches keeping a superior eye on things.

One of the cheeky little Squirrels we have around the Park (picture taken last year)


Sunshine at last!

It’s been an absolutely beautiful couple of days here at Prior Park, I only wish I could take my computer outside and enjoy it! I managed a stroll round with the camera after lunch today though and got some good shots. Autumn is definitely on the way – the first few trees are starting to turn orange and drop their leaves. In a couple of weeks’ time Prior Park will be a riot of colour!