First impressions count

As garden visitor numbers hit record highs, it's time to smarten up our entrance

During the winter months, the estates team have been busy improving access for our visitors in the overflow car park. Plans are in place to redevelop the woodland car park to increase our all-weather parking.

This has become a necessity as last year, our visitor numbers hit two million, so on busy days and for programmed events, our parking is stretched to the limits.
When the woodland car park is redeveloped, we need to guide our visitors safely to the visitor centre so we are putting a path in to connect the two areas keeping pedestrians away from moving vehicles. The new paths are being topped with a pink chipping which is eye-catching, so directs visitors in the right direction, like ‘follow the yellow brick road’, only ours is pink!
To minimise damage to the grass parking areas, we have used plastic grids for reinforcement which will be seeded with grass seed.
We are also improving the planting around the car park, especially for winter colour and interest including Cornus with coloured stems and horizontal junipers for ground cover. We unfortunately had to remove some horse chestnuts that were suffering from leaf miner and were becoming unsightly. However, we used it as an opportunity to plant some American oaks that were looking for a home including Quercus macrocarpa, Q. virginiana, Q. × bebbiana and Q. × schuettei (these are new to the garden).
I find it fascinating working in the car park, watching people arrive; visitors that you have seen before (some frequent) and newcomers full of anticipation of what is to come. We are fully aware that first impressions go a long way and we want our visitors to feel from the moment they arrive that we are providing the best service possible. It is important for people to be able to park easily in pleasant surroundings, which is what we are striving to achieve.

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