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Apple and Bees Day at Gardens of Easton Lodge

Cider and roses, honey and lavender, apple juice and dahlias, jam and elephants – there is something for everyone at the Apple and Bees Day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge on Sunday September 25.

This year, for the first time ever at the Historic England grade II registered attraction in Little Easton, near Great Dunmow, there will be cider on sale from the gardens’ Easton Countess apples. Local producers have been working hard to perfect the blend and the label.

And the roses at the gardens have withstood the drought and are looking lovely, with the Lady of Shallot winning first prize at the Countess of Warwick show.

Apple and bees day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge (59266807)
Apple and bees day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge (59266807)

Michelle and Trevor will be bringing their bees from Ivy Cottage. Visitors will be able to find out how the bees live, work and make their honey, and how beeswax makes fantastic soap, face cream and other useful things. Honey will be available for tasting and visitors will be able to buy some for their toast and crumpets at home!

Visitors will also be able to press apple juice, with help from the Friends of Cressing Temple, and taste a wide range of apples and orchard produce, courtesy of the East of England Apples and Orchards Project.

And back by popular demand will be the Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust’s jam and jelly tombola and apple and honey cake tasting stall.

Apple and bees day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge (59266761)
Apple and bees day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge (59266761)

Visitors will enjoy the gardens in September hues, the lavender hedges and daisies and dahlias in the borders, the treehouse, elephant and children’s activities. Bishop’s Stortford Ukulele Society will strum out some fun tunes and there will be a range of plant, produce and craft stalls.

The gardens will be open from 11am to 5pm. Trust volunteers will provide hot and cold refreshments, including local bacon, cheese or hummus rolls and home-made cakes. Tickets can be bought online through the gardens’ website or Facebook page or on the gate. The entrance fee is £5.50 for adults, free for children under 16. Dogs on leads are welcome.

The Gardens of Easton Lodge, which are also open every Thursday during the season from 11am to 3pm, are the most important legacy of Harold Peto’s work in the East of England.

Frances Evelyn 'Daisy' Maynard, the Countess of Warwick, commissioned Peto to redesign her gardens in 1902. His designs include the sunken Italian garden and its 100 ft long pool with water lilies, which has recently been restored; a treehouse which has been recreated; and a glade with Japanese rill and other features which leads down to a trout lake.

Apple and bees day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge (59266805)
Apple and bees day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge (59266805)

After the Second World War, when the estate was returned to the Maynard family after its use as an airfield, the gardens went untended and most of the mansion was pulled down. Volunteers of the Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust have gradually restored the gardens and planted up the kitchen garden again, with lots of local historic fruit varieties.

The gardens around the remaining wing of the old mansion, which is now called Warwick House, are also open to visitors on Sunday open days.

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