Outside the walled garden there is an expanse of just over 20 acres of land owned by the Trust. It is mainly grass and shrubs with a fine show of spring flowers which include several species of snowdrops, daffodils, hellebores, aconites and primroses. These are followed by bluebells, lady’s smock, grape hyacinth and cuckoo pint.
Just outside the walled garden sits the Bothy, once an overnight resting place for the head gardener and on occasions the gamekeeper. By this building are ranged several compost heaps which provide warmth and shelter for rodents such wood mice, bank voles and brown rats. All are useful for controlling garden pests. Of course, they too are predated. Both stoats and weasels have been seen - although not often – alongside foxes, badgers, sparrowhawks and tawny owls. The owl is very vocal at night but can even be heard announcing its presence during the day as a territorial reminder to all others. It is extremely difficult to find in the trees unless a blackbird has found it and begins mobbing. Blackbirds are very good at finding the owls.
Elsewhere in the garden there are numerous nest sites. Wrens, goldcrests, blackbirds and various warblers are joined by some very special parents in the shape of nuthatches and kestrels. The nuthatch pairs can be heard calling from late January and there are at least three nest sites although not all are occupied every year. The kestrel pair often have to fight off jackdaws to secure their preferred nest but are usually successful. Young have been reared in both 2019 and 2020 and after raucous displays in the gardens can be seen practicing their hunting skills in the fields outside the house front entrance. They are remarkably successful as the image shows.
Kestrel with prey
As summer moves into autumn and winter the winter thrushes return to feed on the yew berries at first but once these are exhausted they move on to holly. The main garden visitors are redwings but fieldfares will come in from the fields in harsh weather. In some years we may see waxwings and there are always good numbers of resident thrushes.