2016 has been designated the Year of the Garden to celebrate Capability Brown’s centenary. While Stokesay’s garden was designed by EH Milner, rather than Capability Brown, we also have much to celebrate this year. Last April we cleared the invasive reeds from the main pool. This made the pool look PoolLongViewP1000013instantly larger, but it meant that the trees that were growing out across the pool, as they fought for light, stood out even more and it was clear that major tree surgery was needed to restore the landscape. The offending trees have now been felled, much of the undergrowth has been cut back and the walk around the bottom of the pool is no longer the dark tunnel it had become, but much wider and more spacious.   It will be interesting to see what grows back now that the light has been let in. GrottoP1000021Our new head gardener, Sam, has been clearing the grotto. Years of overgrowth had made the grotto almost invisible. It is the area where Briony can be seen in “Atonement” writing her plays. Joe Wright and his team dressed the grotto to look even more overgrown with fake rocks and extra greenery and nature had added to it. Now that it is opened up it looks at least three times bigger than it did. Bulbs and ferns have survived growing in the planters, and we are waiting to see what else will appear when spring arrives. Some years ago I thought I saw where there had been a path through the woods and last NewDriveP1000024autumn we excavated it, cutting down years of laurel growth which will make good winter firewood. It turned out to be not just a path, it was an avenue! I am told it is where the family rode their horses out from the stables through the wood along the top of the escarpment, and on into the valley. Before I finish I would like to say what a pleasure it was to see the Ludlow Rotary Club members here last week to present cheques to the nominated charities from funds raised the Ludlow Fun Dog Day in 2015. Here is a picture of the event: Dog Day Presentation Group

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