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Our work on the estate at Tyntesfield

Rows of runner beans in the Kitchen Garden at Tyntesfield, Bristol
Rows of runner beans in the Kitchen Garden at Tyntesfield, Bristol | © National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

Find out more about our work on the estate at Tyntesfield. Discover how the Kitchen Garden contributes to the daily menus in the restaurant and café. Learn how grazing animals enable bats and wildflowers to thrive. Seek out the green wood workers called the Somerset Bodgers and see how they turn fallen wood into something new.

The Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden has been providing fruit and vegetables for the Tyntesfield estate since the 1860s. Today most of the produce is used in the Cow Barn restaurant and the surplus available to take home from our produce table.

Freshly picked

All the produce is freshly picked by volunteers and walked up the drive to the Cow Barn restaurant kitchen which is less than a mile away. Local food picked by hand and delivered on foot is helping to reduce food miles on the estate.

Wood worker using a pole lathe at Tyntesfield, Bristol
Wood worker using a pole lathe at Tyntesfield, Bristol | © National Trust Images/Alana Wright

The Somerset Bodgers

Tucked in a corner of the upper courtyard at Home Farm are the Somerset Bodgers, a group of skilled craftspeople who offer courses and workshops in this historic craft. The Somerset Bodgers are a local group affiliated to the National Association of Pole Lathe Turners and Green Woodworkers.

Greenwood working

Their aim is to promote green woodworking and keep alive ancient skills. Any fallen wood from the places we care for around Bristol can be readily transformed by the bodgers into useful hand-crafted items.

Take part in a course

Why not consider them to create a specially commissioned item, or take part in a course? There are regular woodworking courses including spoon carving to making your own chair. These are a great opportunity to learn a new skill or give a unique gift.

You can usually spot the Somerset Bodgers on Mondays and Fridays between 10am and 3pm. They are always pleased to chat about their traditional skills so please do stop by.

The new orchard

There are 300 trees in the orchard which were planted as part of a five-year project by rangers and volunteers and finished in 2019. The varieties include apple, pear, walnut, quince, plum, cherry and mulberry across 11 acres. There are 36 different varieties of apple trees with many of them old and rare varieties that were in danger of dying out. Local varieties of cider and juicing apples were also planted.

Creating space for nature

There is plenty of space between the trees to allow them to grow. This combination of fruit trees, grassland and scrub means that traditional orchards (unlike commercial orchards) create a similar habitat to woodland pastures, parklands and woodland edge. This creates a home for wild plants and animals, including many species of fungi which rely on decaying wood as the trees grow.

Continuing the work

At Tyntesfield we will carry on with the work to look after the orchard and its wildlife and harvest the fruit as the trees mature. Watch this space for Tyntesfield cider coming soon.

Hill radnor sheep and lamb in the orchard at Tyntesfield, Bristol
Hill radnor sheep and lamb in the orchard at Tyntesfield, Bristol | © National Trust Images/Alana Wright

Conservation grazing on the estate

Sheep graze in the orchard and move around the fields on the estate. The sheep and their lambs help to keep the grass under control as part of their daily diet.

Encouraging wild flowers

This helps to encourage the growth of wild flowers by giving the flowers room to grow and by trampling the seeds into the ground.

Angus cattle on the estate

You may also see local Angus cattle grazing in fields across the estate. This continues one of Tyntesfield's Victorian traditions of using this breed on the estate. The milk from the cows is used to make cheese which is added to cheese scones and other delicious meals in the Cow Barn restaurant and Pavilion café at Tyntesfield.

Food for beetles and bats

The cattle contribute to attracting a wide variety wildlife as their dung is a vital food source for beetles and bats to feed on.

Conservation tree work

Thanks to a generous donation from SC Johnson we have just completed the first year of a five year project to conserve one of the largest collections of ancient and veteran trees in the South West.

The trees are located at a number of National Trust sites across Bristol including Tyntesfield. The other places benefiting from the work are Leigh Woods, Shirehampton Park, Failand and Clevedon Court.

Caring for nature and wildlife on the estate

The diversity of the Tyntesfield estate makes it the perfect home for a whole range of wildlife.

Types of bats at Tyntesfield

There are 11 recorded species of bat at Tyntesfield including greater horseshoe, lesser horseshoe, brown long-eared, common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, noctule, serotine, whiskered, Leisler, Brandt and Daubenton bats.

During the summer the lesser horseshoe bats have a maternity roost in the Garden Passage in the house where they give birth and raise their young. This roost is of national importance for the local area and on a national scale. Entry and exit points are maintained to provide favourable conditions for the bats to return each spring.

How we care for bats

Because of the large bat populations across the estate, the Tyntesfield ranger team are careful to monitor the area and maintain good habitats. This includes creating and maintaining field margins, hedgerows and significant landscape features. Veteran trees with natural crevices all help to encourage the bats to stay here.

We work in liaison with our tenant farmer who ensures the cattle are grazed across the estate. The cow pats attract a wide variety of insects and beetles which is a good food source for bats. Ensuring the regular rotation of cattle across the estate helps the bats to thrive.

Emperor dragonflies

Emperor dragonflies can be seen near the pond in the Walled Garden. They spend the first two years of their life underwater before crawling out to the reeds at the side of the pond. Once there they shed their skins for the final time and sprout wings to take off. The whole process can last some hours and usually happens overnight in the summer when temperatures are warm enough.

How we help the dragonflies

To provide ideal conditions for the emperor dragonfly our ranger teams are careful to maintain the area. Each winter only a third of the vegetation is cleared from the pond. This reduces the disruption during this more dormant phase of the lifecycle.

In the meadows

The meadows at Tyntesfield are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna including silver-washed fritillary butterflies, hares and orchids. At the start of the summer, the wildflowers in Tyntesfield's meadows begin to appear, filling the landscape with colour.

We’ve been busy overseeing the reversion of most of the arable fields at Tyntesfield. It’s a slow process that involves growing certain crops that remove nutrients from the soil. Wildflower meadows thrive in poor soil conditions so this helps get them off to a good start.

How the wildflowers are encouraged

The soil is then prepared and the seed is sown using a good native local provenance seed mix to attract butterflies. During the first year the flowers and grasses are encouraged to grow and seed naturally. The hay is typically cut during July and August. The hay is removed and used by the tenant farmer for cattle feed. The plants will regrow and cattle brought in to graze the fields in the late summer and early autumn months.

A stewardship agreement

Our tenant farmers work in liaison with Natural England through a stewardship agreement. They leave some wild areas and don’t cut everything all at once. This helps to provide flowers and seed heads for insects and birds when they need them. The work fits around the changing weather conditions brought on by climate change.

The meadows were reseeded last year so it's the perfect time to find new flowers and colours.

Thank you

With your ongoing support we’re able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

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