Apple and Bees Day at the Gardens of Easton Lodge
Children and adults alike will enjoy apple and bee-themed activities at the Gardens of Easton Lodge this Sunday (Sept 19).
Angus Drever, chair of the Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust, said: “We're thrilled to be able to have a full range of activities again for our favourite open day of the year: Apple and Bees Day.
"And I've put in a request for a lovely Indian summer day!
"The Friends of Cressing Temple and volunteers from the East of England Apples and Orchards Project will help our volunteers and local beekeepers make the day go with a buzz.”
Apple activities will include juicing, apple variety identification, apple craft and sampling of all manner of produce made from orchard fruits, including cakes.
Beekeepers will have a display hive, and explain all about bees’ waggle dancing and honey-making. They will have honey and beeswax soaps for sale.
The trust’s regular jam and jelly tombola will be well stocked from all the soft fruits of the gardens. And other stalls will be selling plants, crafts and garden produce.
Music will be provided by Bishop’s Stortford Ukulele Society.
Visitors can enjoy climbing into the treehouse, seeing the restored lily pond and learning about Kim, the Countess of Warwick’s baby elephant.
At this time of year, the Italian garden and walled kitchen garden are really colourful and buzzing with bees, butterflies and dragonflies.
Trust volunteers will provide bacon, cheese or hummus rolls and a wide selection of home-made cakes, as well as tea, coffee and cold drinks.
The gardens are open from 11am to 5pm with last entry at 4pm. To ensure speedy entry, tickets can be bought in advance via the gardens website at eastonlodge.co.uk, Facebook page or direct through Trybooking. Visitors can also pay on the gate. Entrance fee is £5.50 for adults, free for children under 16.
The gardens, at Little Easton near Great Dunmow (CM6 2BB), are grade II registered with Historic England.
Frances Evelyn 'Daisy' Greville, Countess of Warwick, a campaigning socialist, brought her colourful life to her gardens and entertained guests there regularly and lavishly – including the Prince of Wales, who took her as his mistress before he acceded to the throne as Edward VII, and Labour Party and trade union movement leaders.
In 1902 she commissioned Harold Peto to redesign her gardens. His designs include the sunken Italian garden and its 100ft long pond with water lilies as well as a treehouse and a glade with Japanese rill and other features, which leads down to a trout lake. They remain one of the most important of his creations and the only one in the East of England.
The gardens of Warwick House, which are also open on Sunday open days, surround what was Easton Lodge. They include majestic trees, colourful borders and a pavilion in Peto’s style, which was restored in 1995.
After the Countess’ death in July 1938, the estate was requisitioned and an airfield built for use by the US Army Air Force and then the RAF in the Second World War. Subsequently the gardens fell into disrepair.
The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust – a charity run by volunteers to preserve, maintain and make the gardens open to the public – has brought them back to life, leaving some areas for nature while restoring order elsewhere.
This year its volunteers have completed restoration of the balustrade around the lily pond in the Italian garden and given home to a new elephant, a reminder of the many and varied exotic animals the Countess kept at Easton Lodge.
The gardens are open to the public one Sunday a month from February to October and on Thursdays from March to the end of November.