Preserving the parkland at Hatchlands
With 400 acres of gardens and parkland to care for at Hatchlands, there's lots of essential, unseen work that goes on behind the scenes.
This work ensures that the parkland runs smoothly and that we continue to have a positive impact on our environment for future generations.
Conservation management plan
We commissioned the Landscape Agency to prepare a Conservation Management Plan for Hatchlands. The plan evaluates the park and its historical development and identifies a vision for its restoration, repair, conservation and management. Our low impact working methods are designed to help achieve this vision.
We're currently undertaking a programme of tree planting. This succession planting is essential to eventually replace old trees and also helps to achieve our goal of recreating Humphry Repton's original plan for the park. We're planting Oaks, Sweet chestnut, Limes and Hornbeams, in 2011 we planted 33 new trees.
The successful management of our healthy hedgerows is partly achieved by hedgelaying. This is a traditional skill that allows us to rejuvenate the existing hedgerows here by encouraging new growth, improving their structure and strength.
Whilst most of our lawn mowing needs in the wider park are taken care of by our low impact Dexter cattle herd, there are still around 7.5 acres of gardens and formal lawns that we have to cut ourselves. This can take one person a whole day to accomplish and at peak growing times lawns may have to be cut every other day. We also cut the wild flower meadow twice a year, and collect the clippings, to encourage growth.
All our grass clippings, autumn leaves, weeds and other green waste is added to our compost heaps. Autumn leaves make excellent leaf mould compost and the rest is blended together over time and turned occasionally until its ready to be used on our formal beds and the pots and baskets in our courtyard.
Our wormery deals with vegetable waste from six households and all the shredded paper from our office. In the right conditions the wormery can deal with 7 tones of waste a year but works at different speeds depending on the outside temperature. Once the green waste and paper is added it takes 3-4 months to be processed by the worms resulting in vermicompost or black gold. We use this extra-rich compost on our baskets and pots.
Along with the composting we also make our own plant food in the form of nettle tea. This organic liquid fertilizer is made from the nettles that grow in our park. They're simply chopped up, packed in a barrel and covered with water. This mixture rots down in a matter of weeks and can then be used as a boost for beds, baskets and pots.
Ancient tree survey
In association with The Woodland Trust we've undertaken an Ancient and Notable Tree Survey. This helps us to identify our oldest, most vulnerable, unusual species and best specimen trees and gives us a permanent record of them. We can then follow the progress of these old and unusual trees, ensuring their continued health.
Our plan for Hatchlands stretches many years into the future and ensures continuity in the approach to parkland management by future generations. We hope that these methods will contribute to a long and healthy future for the park and the wildlife in it.