I’ve worked as a landscape gardener for a number of years, and I have to say that I don’t spend enough time exploring the locations and attractions that our glorious county has to offer. It is Kent that, somewhat ruefully from my point of view, is labelled as the ‘Garden of England,’ yet Worcestershire, with our rolling hills and dazzling meadows and our arterial rivers can’t be far behind. In fact, we do lay some claim to being the ‘Heart of England’ although, somewhat bizarrely, this term also includes Herefordshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire, and pretty much every where in-between. England, it seems, has a very big heart indeed.
Still, I stand by my original thesis. I don’t believe I see enough of Worcestershire outside my working life. There are dozens of gardens and parks and one or two great houses that are open at this time of year, as a quick search online will show (I recommend Visitworcestershire.org).
I have perused this site and as we entered July I decided to do something about my home county deficit. I decided to build a list of things I would like to go and see in the coming month.
First on my list as a gardener would be to visit Croome Court. As one of Europe’s largest walled Georgian gardens, designed by none other than Lancelot Capability Brown (his first big commission!), this is a must-see. It’s been on my hit list for a long, long time, but, probably because it is so local, I haven’t yet got round to visiting it. Amazingly, it was empty from 1984 – 1996, and the court could very well have fallen into dereliction had it not been rescued by a private owner and later sold to the Croome Heritage Trust. As I said, this would be an opportunity for Capability Dan to walk in Capability Brown’s footsteps (or sit on a blanket and reach for a cool drink from my picnic hamper).
Croome Court is also hosting an event the following week: climbing with skilled tree-climbers! I’m a landscaper, not a tree surgeon, so I’m not sure I’ll be doing that – and as I plan to do Croome the previous week then I might give this a miss and seek another Worcestershire attraction. But do you feel brave enough for that?
The following weekend (11th July) I think I might venture out toward Redditch, to Forge Mill and Bordesley Abbey. There they are putting on what I think might be a spectacular show of fully equipped Roman soldiers re-enacting the invasion of that small part of Britain (without the nasty bits!). It is said to feature recreations of combat as well – so it will be fun to watch the Roman lines march abreast into Caractacus’s hordes!
I suspect, with July looking to be a month of hot hard work, I will enjoy something slightly quieter for the next weekend. Spending most of the summer outside, I see all manner of butterflies and insects pass me by, and yet I very rarely pay them heed. If I have time, I might snap a picture of one so I can look it up later on, but I’ve never taken the time to learn much more than what I’ve needed to know about them in the course of my work. And I have to confess that saddens me. So perhaps, on the weekend of the 18th, I might don my walking boots and head off to Phepson Farm near Droitwich where a Butterfly Bonanza Walk is being held. If it helps me to see more and know more of these insects over the summer months then it won’t be a single second wasted.
No calendar of events in the month of July would be complete without a trip to an arboretum. On Saturday the 25th July, Arley Arboretum near Bewdley will be showing an open-air performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Madcap Productions. It is supposedly a piece of quite physical theatre, where dance and gymnastics and combat all play a lively role. I have to confess I’m not into theatre so much, but the opportunity of seeing an outside performance of such physical skill in the surrounds of the arboretum at this time of year is too much for someone who loves gardening to miss.