Gardens and Woodland
The Upper House has 10 acres of land comprising woodland, gardens and hay field.
The woodland and gardens were first created from new in the 1840s when the house was built. The aim of the current owners and gardeners is to maintain an area that encourages and maintains as much wildlife as possible, but in a tranquil and sometimes formal setting that a hotel requires for weddings and conferences.
The eastern side of the hotel holds a mixed broadleaved wood with a great number of different native trees, such as Oak, Beech, Yew, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Sweet Chestnut, Ash, Sycamore, Scots Pine, Rowan, Blackthorn, Silver Birch and Elder. Dog Rose and honeysuckle have been added to the mixed native hedge at the back of the wood.
In early spring snowdrops and daffodils are abundant, followed by bluebells that carpet the woodland floor in May time before the tree canopy takes over. Red Campion follow the bluebells. In 2017, wood anemones were added to a small part of the wood.
The wood contains a 19th century ice house, and is also home to a 9th century Anglo-Saxon grave, which was found when the wood was planted in the 1840s.
A copse with longer grass has been introduced towards the bottom of the hayfield to further encourage a variety of wildlife. The perimeter of the hay field has been left as long grass to supply a green corridor for wildlife, together with a corridor of old native broadleaved trees along the public footpath.
The gardens have many native and non-native trees. Shrubs, perennials and annuals are kept in more formal beds around the hotel, all separated by lawns.
The rose beds on the western side of the hotel contain Lady of Shallot roses held within wrought iron pergolas, with a water feature between the two beds. A border by the western side of the hotel contains shrubs such as choisya, hebe, fuchsia, pyracantha, hydrangea and cotinus (Smoke Bush). The whole western aspect overlooks the Trent Valley and looks towards the Hanchurch Hills.
The front of the hotel contains trees and plants that are suited to a shady and exposed northern aspect. As well as native trees, the hotel holds some specimen trees such as the Weeping Spruce at the top of the Japanese Garden, the cedars at the front and rear of the hotel, and the Cytisus Battandieri (‘Pineapple Tree’) outside the conservatory.
Specimen shrubs have also been introduced including different rhododendron species, the Cornus controversa variegata, (‘Wedding Cake Tree’) and Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Kilimanjaro’. Adding specimen plants and trees continues the Victorian and Edwardian tradition of importing specimen plants into Britain from around the world, including Asia.
There are also fruit trees including apples, damsons and plum, which helps to supply the hotel kitchen.
The rear of the hotel has a walkway leading to an arbour where outdoor weddings can be held in good weather.
To the rear of the arbour is a statue by local sculptor Neil Wood, named ‘The First Dance’ commissioned in 2016, of two lovers dancing. The flower beds bordering the arbourcontain predominantly white shrubs, perennials and annuals to reflect the traditional marriage theme.
The hotel boasts a Japanese garden complete with a teahouse and bridge. There are many different types of acer and azaleas within the garden, aswell as other Japanese garden inspired plants and shrubs, and all is overseen by a large Magnolia.
Woodland Suite Patio
The beds and banks surrounding the Woodland Suite on the shady eastern side of the hotel hold many woodland inspired shrubs and plants, and there are sandstone steps leading up to the wood and a bark path walk to the top lawns. Cyclamen nestle between geranium, fuchsia, hydrangea and rhododendron. Yew Trees at the top and bottom of the banks surround the Woodland Suite, together with other broadleaved trees.
Many bird species have been spotted at the Upper House including Robins, Wrens, Blackbirds, long Tailed Tits,Great, Coal&: Blue Tits, Chaffinch, Goldcrests, Nuthatches, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jays, Buzzards, Crows, Pied Wagtail, Treecreepers, Goldfinches, and Tawny Owls.
Foxes, Badgers, Grey Squirrels, Moles, Rabbits have all been spotted.
Ongoing improvements to the gardens and woods include the introduction of bat and bird boxes, and continuing to plant more insect and bee friendly trees and flowers to further encourage wildlife.
Areas of leaves are left under hedges in Autumn to encourage hedgehog and other wildlife habitation over the winter.
A dry-stone wall and flowerbed was created in 2017 at the top of one ofthe banks by the wood. Hedgehog houses were incorporated into thedesign. Elsewhere, log piles and other stone piles help to attract and help wildlife.
A compost heap was also created in 2105 to help to both reduce the needto import peat based compost, and to help wildlife and the wider environment. Mulch for the formal flower beds is sourced locally and is made from recycled green waste.