Woodland grove restored at Croome

Croome volunteers building tree guards

A historic plan, dating back to 1796, combined with modern technology has enabled restoration of two hectares of woodland grove.

Seventy specimen trees are being planted which will encourage wildlife at Croome.

“We’re proud to be planting up the final major missing piece of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s design at Croome, Beech Grove. It’s an area of 70 trees, mostly Beech planted on the western side of the river. As these trees mature over the coming centuries they will provide important shade for livestock and habitat for hundreds of beetles, birds and bats. Croome is one of the most important sites in the country for deadwood beetles, and we are working hard to maintain a continuity of supply of decaying wood for these beetles to continue to live in in years to come.”  Katherine Alker, Garden and Outdoors Manager.

John Snape plan dated 1796
Entire historic John Snape plan dated 1796
John Snape plan dated 1796

When the National Trust took ownership of nearly 700 acres of parkland in 1996 the land had been used for arable crops such as wheat and oil seed rape for many decades. The Trust reverted it to pasture land, as originally intended by Brown, to provide grazing for cattle and sheep.  

The long-term plan at Croome is to restore the park as it was designed by famous landscape architect ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century and thanks to a generous donation from a private individual, work has now begun to replant a woodland grove in an area of the park south of the Croome Court.

Transporting wood for beech grove guards
Croome transporting wood for beech grove
Transporting wood for beech grove guards

The parkland team has being using modern GPS combined with a historic map, a survey by John Snape from 1796 which has enabled them to plot the location of the original planting of trees, in an area known as ‘Beech Grove’. 

Seventy trees, mostly beech, are being planted by hand by the parkland team and their regular volunteers.  Once planted, the trees have been protected with tree guards to prevent them being eaten by deer. Planting has been completed in March as this time of year gives the best chance of the trees establishing well. Not all of the trees and woodland groves were destroyed over the years and there are oaks, chestnuts and ash trees at Croome which are several hundred years old.  

Jack Markew and Peter Parkes staking new trees
Croome Jack Markew and Peter Parkes staking new trees
Jack Markew and Peter Parkes staking new trees

Over the future decades, it’s hoped that as the trees mature they will host an abundance of wildlife such as birds, mammals and beetles. Planting trees not only provides more varied habitat for animals, but helps keep the soils stable and less susceptible to erosion. 

Looking more closely at the Snape plan you can just make out a building hidden in the grove which is believed to be a boathouse (one of two that used to be in the parkland).

Beech grove on the Snap map
Beech grove on the Snap map
Beech grove on the Snap map

Unfortunately, over time this building has been lost but we plan to have information displayed to show visitors where it was located and where boats would have once been kept and launched into the river in the 18th century.

Chris Grafton and John Lambeth planting trees
Croome Chris Grafton and John Lambeth planting trees
Chris Grafton and John Lambeth planting trees