Planning a visit to the Fernery and Gardens?
As part of this year’s Open Gardens event, we are pleased to share this information about the Fernery:
Danesbury Park is an extensive area of natural grassland, now rare in Hertfordshire, which is rich in fungi, wild flowers, butterflies and birds, and a range of grasses which reflect the changes in soil composition. The fields were formerly part of the estate of Danesbury House built in 1776.
The Friends of Danesbury Park LNR is a volunteer group which organises Work Parties once a month throughout the year, from 10 a.m. to lunchtime on the third Thursday of the month .We focus on path clearance, and clearance of invasive scrub to encourage the regeneration of , creation wildlife corridors, and restoring sightlines to many of Danesbury’s wonderful old heritage’ trees.
In September 2015 the Friends of Danesbury LNR started a new Project to ‘reclaim’ the abandoned and very overgrown Victorian Danesbury Fernery reported 1881 by the RHS as ‘the best fernery to be found in the Home Counties’. It was built in 1859 for the then owner of Danesbury House, William John Blake, by his gardener Anthony Parsons, on the site of an old chalk pit, in what is now the Motorway Field.
Apart from the renowned collection of rare ferns it once contained, of principal interest is the artificial rockwork, constructed in situ by James Pulham and now known as Pulhamite, The specification for the Danesbury Fernery included ‘a dropping well, a grotto, a pass, and a rustic bridge over a gorge’.
When the Friends of Danesbury started work in September 2015, the site had not been managed for well over 100 years and it was virtually impenetrable. But by June 2016 all the invasive nettles, elder and scrub had been cleared, and grass seeded to make the site look less derelict. In November 2016 we started the careful task of excavating the original pathways, during the course of which we began to uncover hidden rockwork. In the autumn of 2016 we planted 2000 English daffodils and 2000 snowdrops, and in February 2017 we planted 50 hawthorn, field maple and hazel. We are currently busy cleaning out the pockets in the rockwork, ready to start re-planting ferns and other rock plants in the autumn of 2017.
We welcome your interest to help us restore this piece of Welwyn’s rich heritage and any offers of help.
For more details please contact John Roper, Leader of the Friends of Danesbury Park Local Nature Reserve, 07910311589.