Welford Park - Kingdom Of White Snowdrops

Welford Park - Kingdom Of White Snowdrops
Welford Park - Kingdom Of White Snowdrops

Video: Welford Park - Kingdom Of White Snowdrops

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Video: Welford Park Snowdrops 2023, February
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Welford Park is located in an old estate in Berkshire in the south-east of England. The park can be reached by bus from the nearest train station in the picturesque town of Newbury, dating back to the late 11th century.

You can get to this park only at the end of winter - during the flowering period of snowdrops. It was then, in February, that the owners of a private estate for a reasonable fee open the gates of their park to visitors for several weeks. Welford is the kingdom of snowdrops. They are everywhere here - from the bus stop to the pearl of the park - a forest with a million bulbs of these wonderful plants. Each visitor is amazed by the dazzling white sea of ​​snowdrops, spread over three hectares under the canopy of a transparent beech forest. And, of course, everyone is captivated by the classic English landscape park that surrounds the old mansion.

Wellford Park has changed many owners during its long history. Initially, these lands belonged to the Abingdon Abbey. It, like many other monasteries, was destroyed during the Reformation in the first half of the 16th century. In 1536, Welford passed into the possession of King Henry VIII and became his hunting ground, in which deer were the main game. Later, Welford was owned by many wealthy and worthy families of England, among whom were the treasurer of Queen Elizabeth I, a member of parliament, distant relatives of Isaac Newton and the governor of the Bank of England.

The stone house of the land owners was built in 1652 by the architect John Jackson. Since then, the building has hardly changed its appearance. Behind the house is a church with a high round tower and an old cemetery.

In the middle of the 19th century, the next owner of the estate, Charles Eyre, took up the improvement of the garden and park. He changed the direction of the main road, built a front entrance and installed an entrance gate. Since then, visitors to Welford have the opportunity to admire the openwork wrought iron doors topped with a sculptural depiction of a leg in knightly armor with an impressive spur. The leg is the coat of arms of the Air family. A family legend says that one of the ancestors, having lost a sword during the battle, grabbed the first weapon that came to hand, which turned out to be the severed leg of a knight with a sharp spur. Ayr had enough strength not only to successfully repel the blows of enemies with this object, but also to escape from the battle alive, to leave behind offspring and an eerie legend.

During the First World War, a sanatorium for recovering soldiers was organized in the house. In our time, the estate was inherited by James Puxley. He and his family live permanently in the mansion.

According to the legend, the beginning of the planting of snowdrops was laid by the monks of Abingdon Abbey, who grew flowers for the traditional decoration of the temple on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2), and also used the plants for medicinal purposes. In the Middle Ages, snowdrop potions were used to treat headaches. Modern medicine has confirmed the healing properties of these plants: preparations based on them are used to treat Alzheimer's disease.

The owners of the estate have done their bit to maintain the unusual plantings. Charles Eyre, for example, made sure that snowdrops settled on both sides of the new driveway, built in 1840. The white carpet under the century-old linden trees still delights visitors today. It serves as a prelude to the magical spectacle that awaits them ahead.

Galanthuses are very graceful. Snow-white flowers are located one by one at the ends of thin low stems. Closed, they resemble a frozen drop. This feature is reflected in the English name of the plant - snowdrop (snow drop). The scientific name (Galanthus) is given because of the pure white color of the petals and means "milky-flowered" in Greek. The Russian name for this charming plant reflects its remarkable ability to bloom despite frequent spring snowfalls.

The early bloom and graceful appearance of snowdrops have attracted the attention of people since the time of the Roman Empire. Botanists believe that this plant was introduced to England in the early 16th century. Now the snowdrops are completely naturalized here. Breeding well, they are found in abundance in parks, gardens, around old farms, along roads and paths.

Various legends are associated with snowdrops. One of them tells about the origin of this flower. When Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise, winter came on earth, everything was covered with snow. Eve was crying, and an angel came down from heaven to comfort her. He caught a snowflake in his palm, breathed on it and dropped a drop of water on the ground. In that place, a snowdrop grew, the flowers of which appeared from under the snow, giving hope.

There is another legend in Germany. When God created all that exists, he suggested that the colorless snow ask the flowers for some colors. Not a single flower agreed to share its beauty, only the humble snowdrop did not become greedy. Since then, snow has ruined the beauty of bright flowers, but the snowdrop is allowed to show off its whiteness in the first spring sun.

In the language of flowers, a snowdrop means purity and hope. Interestingly, in England it is considered a bad omen to put snowdrops in a vase.

The genus Snowdrop (Galanthus) belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. About 20 species of snowdrops are known in nature. They grow wildly in the forests and mountains of Central and Southern Europe, the Caucasus and Asia Minor.

Snowdrops are small bulbous ephemeroid plants. Their bulb spends most of the year dormant in the ground. The period of flowering and fruiting falls, depending on the climatic zone, in December-February or March-April.

The most common species in gardening is the snow-white snowdrop (G. nivalis). Its double form (Flore Pleno), known at least since 1731, is widespread.Another species often found in gardens, the Elveza snowdrop (G. elwesii), was first brought to Europe from Turkey in 1874. Plants of this species are larger than a classic snow-white snowdrop and bloom a little earlier.

Snowdrops can be planted both under the canopy of deciduous trees and shrubs, and in open spaces. They require moist, loose, well-drained soil, preferably with added nutrient compost. Too dry or, conversely, waterlogged soils are unsuitable for growing them.

Planting is best done during the dormant period of the bulbs: from July to September. Snowdrop bulbs, like other bulbous plants, are planted to a depth equal to the height of three bulbs. Plants do not require special care or bulbs digging out for the winter.

The use of snowdrops in garden design is very diverse. They form magnificent carpets under trees and bushes, or against the backdrop of a lawn. Look great in rock gardens. Planting of slowly growing perennials (peonies, host, etc.) is very enlivening in early spring.

Galanthuses look wonderful in group plantings with other small-bulbous (forest trees, kandyks, crocuses) and simply early flowering plants (corydalis, lungwort). They can be used to create colorful spring compositions in semi-shaded areas of the garden.

Guests enter the park through the old front gate with rectangular red brick pillars. The wrought-iron gate grille is simple, but it is crowned with exquisite cast-iron lace with the very heraldic leg of a knight. On the left side of the gate stands in English a cozy brick gatekeeper's house with a tiled roof overgrown with moss and ferns.

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Behind the gates there is a front driveway made of century-old lime trees. Under their canopy, snowdrops, interspersed with purple and yellow crocuses, whiten in snowy scattering among the grass and green moss.

On the way to the mansion, the alley crosses the small calm and transparent river Lambourne. It is pleasant to stand on the old stone bridge, admiring the smoothly flowing water. One can involuntarily recall the fun of the English bear cub Winnie the Pooh and his friends. I would like, like them, to throw chips into the water from one side of the bridge, then run across to the other and wait for the chip to be carried away by Lamborn's elastic flows.

Immediately across the bridge is a view of a classic English manor house with clusters of old lindens, a dark green yew hedge and the brick walls of a mansion topped with tall chimneys that grow behind it.

Here, under the canopy of lindens, by an old brick wall, entwined with ivy, there is a pet cemetery, founded, as a special sign says, in 1958. Everything is as it should be at this cemetery: stone gravestones with dog names and years of life engraved on them. And that's very English too.

Moving further along the alley, visitors leave the mansion on the left and the small regular garden adjacent to it. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed into the house. The garden in February, when most of the plants have not yet begun to grow, is of interest only for the collection of varietal snowdrops, crocuses, hellebores and fragrant bushes of blooming witch hazel. Although here you can see some of the gardeners' tricks. For example, pyramidal junipers are tightly wrapped in a soft net for the winter. This helps them maintain the correct conical shape of the crown and prevent it from falling apart with snow (although snow is very rare in the south of England).

The route through the park is designed in such a way that you make a big circle and do not go over the same section more than once. As it should be in an English landscape park, every next step opens up a new landscape for you. And although Welford Park is located in a rather flat and monotonous floodplain of the river, the organizers of the garden ensured that the views during a walk do not repeat themselves and do not tire the eye.

Temporary signs unobtrusively take visitors away from the master's house in the direction of a huge green English lawn, closed on one side by a group of old lindens (among other things, the tallest in Berkshire), and on the other - by thickets of deren (Cornus), flaming with bright red-beet bark. Deren bushes form an integral part of the framing of the open spaces of the landscape park. They are contrasting at any time of the year. There is a wide variety of varieties that differ in the color of the bark, the color of summer and autumn leaves and the height of the bushes. In winter and spring (before the leaves bloom), their branches add crimson or yellow-green accents to the landscape. In summer, the bushes, depending on the variety, dress with green, variegated or golden foliage. Autumn paints the dogwood in the most unexpected, but certainly bright colors.

In the bare crowns of lindens, green balls of mistletoe are visible - a semi-parasitic plant, to which the druids attributed the strongest magical properties. The English tradition of decorating rooms for Christmas with mistletoe twigs has survived to this day. If a guy and a girl are under a branch at the same time, they should definitely kiss. Young people are very fond of this custom.

Trees in England, having thrown off their foliage, do not turn dull gray at all. Many of them are densely entwined with evergreen ivy and decorated with balls of mistletoe. Ivy can occupy more than half of the crown of a tree. In summer, it hides under the canopy of the owner's foliage, and in winter it flaunts its brilliant dark emerald greenery with might and main.

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Under the linden trees, there are motley lawns of snow-white snowdrops and golden-yellow spring plants (Eranthis). All plants are planted in large numbers and very densely, creating a carpet effect. Here you can admire each plant individually, coming up close, and the whole multicolored mass, stepping back a few steps. In some places the flowers are mixed, and the ground seems to be covered with a cut of variegated spring chintz.

The genus Vesennik (Eranthis) from the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) has 7 species common in Europe and Asia. The scientific name comes from the Greek words er (spring) and anthos (flower) and, like the Russian, characterizes the flowering time of the plant.

Vesenniki are medium-sized herbaceous ephemeroids with tuberous thickened rhizomes. A few basal leaves are openwork, on the stem under the flower there is a "collar" of deeply dissected stem leaves. Flowers up to 3 cm in diameter, bright yellow or white, appear in February-May, depending on the species.

In culture, the winter spring (Eranthis hyemalis), which grows naturally in southern Europe, is most widespread. It is one of the earliest flowering species, its bright yellow flowers open in February.

In the garden, the spring growers prefer a bright location, but since they bloom very early, they can be safely placed under the canopy of deciduous trees and shrubs. Soils are required alkaline, light, nutritious, moist, but without stagnant groundwater.

These plants are propagated mainly by seeds, since new tubers are formed in small quantities. Seeds are sown immediately after harvest or in the fall, the garden is arranged in the shade. Seedlings bloom in the spring of the third year. In general, spring plants are unpretentious, therefore they reproduce well by self-sowing.

When propagating by tubers, they are planted to a depth of 5 cm, the distance between plants is 5-7 cm. Since spring plants look most decorative in group plantings, they are sometimes planted in 3-6 tubers per hole. They should be planted before early September.

In the garden, spring plants are perfectly combined with other low-growing ephemeroids, they look wonderful in monotype plantings.

The British are connoisseurs of ancient and simply old things. Fragments of ancient Roman columns and mechanisms of old water locks are picturesquely located in different parts of the park.

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Crossing the river along a wooden bridge, the banks of which are bordered by dead reeds and sedge, visitors enter the forest. Trees, mostly beeches, are devoid of foliage, but many of them are densely braided with ivy, so the forest looks very unusual, it does not have the familiar winter transparency and joylessness. In the forest, along the path, at some distance from each other, there are wooden sheds with wicker mats made of twigs. Under a canopy, you can take shelter from the weather, sit down, relax, have a snack, admire snowdrops and watch birds.

The main place of pilgrimage in the park is a large area of ​​beech forest, where the whole earth is covered with a dense carpet of milky white flowers. The forest looks like it is snowy. It even seems that it is noticeably colder here than around. Immediately you want to put on gloves and wrap yourself in a scarf. True, the Galanthus forest smells not of winter freshness, but of a subtle, barely perceptible floral, honey smell. This aroma is especially noticeable on a sunny day.

The park is a living organism. Despite leaving, he is aging. Several decades ago, the Galanthus forest was renewed. Only a few centuries-old trees and huge stumps have survived, the rest of the trees are young. Unfortunately, the new trees were planted strictly along the geometric lattice. This slightly disturbs the feeling of naturalness. But you should not be upset, walking around the forest around the perimeter, you can always find a secluded corner where the geometry of the landings is not striking. Here you can stop, put your face to the timid rays of the spring sun and fully enjoy one of the wonders of park design.

After leaving the "snowy" forest, visitors head along a winding path along the river. Here they are met by a blossoming hazel tree, hung with thick bronze-gold earrings, and branchy willows. Very funny look great mounds Carex paniculata (Carex paniculata). They look like the gray woods lurking on the shore.

The path winding along the coast is covered with gravel, and in some places with small chips, and is limited by a border of thin tree trunks. The grayish winter landscape along it is now and again enlivened by groups of bright red svidina. A small area along the bank of the river is decorated with dense thickets of the evergreen dwarf bamboo saza (Sasa veitchii).

Behind the next turn of the path, you stop in surprise in front of a small creek of the river, covered with a dense, as if fluffy, carpet of burgundy-green color. This aquatic fern Azolla (Azolla filiculoides) is a very exotic plant. It was brought to the Old World from America. In our homeland, you can only see it in greenhouses. In the south of England, famous for its mild winters, it feels good in clean pools with running water. Usually, small azolla leaves are green, but in colder weather they acquire a burgundy hue.

In the area of ​​damp forest, where frogs spawn with might and main in numerous reservoirs, you can see blooming butterbur (Petasites) - a kind of plant from the Asteraceae family. Its inflorescences stick out of the ground and resemble small heads of cauliflower surrounded by a fleshy rosette. In summer, butterbur releases large burdock leaves.

As you leave Welford Park, be sure to check out the old St. Gregor's Church behind the mansion. It is one of the very few Anglican churches to have a round tower. Traditional Anglican architecture provides exclusively quadrangular bell towers. A small old cemetery adjoins the church, where you will also see snow-white drops of snowdrops grieving over separation.

At the end of the walk through the park, it is a good idea to look into the tea room, which is open to visitors, and enjoy a cup of real hot aromatic English tea.

Photo by authors

Journal "Landscape solutions" № 1 (14) - 2013

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