Snowdrop Sundays and Thursdays at The Gardens of Easton Lodge near Great Dunmow in February
The Gardens of Easton Lodge, near Great Dunmow, will be welcoming visitors for four snowdrop open days in February. Trustee Jill Goldsmith tells Indie readers what to expect.
February half-term is snowdrop season at The Gardens of Easton Lodge. The Gardens will be open to visitors for two Snowdrop Sundays on February 18 and 25 as well as two Snowdrop Thursdays on February 22 and 29.
After a cold snap in January and storms, we have our fingers crossed that the snowdrops will be at their best, as they usually are, for visitors and that the trust’s volunteers have been able to get the gardens ready!
Through the winter we look forward to the snowdrops as the first sign that spring is coming. They are everywhere in the gardens - at the front near the car park, at the top and sides of the glade and near the First World War practice trenches, around the elephant statue and in the surrounding wood and in the kitchen garden.
They look lovely in individual clumps and as a white carpet, with bees buzzing around them. Let us hope the sun shines so the snowdrops light up the grass and woodlands and visitors can relax and loiter, climb into the treehouse and enjoy the fun trail.
It has been a hard winter for our volunteers, with rain, cold weather and storms, but they are working hard to complete winter jobs. They managed to plant new bulbs in a cold snap and a new fern rill in pouring rain. Many freshly planted shrubs in a new border didn’t last long, unfortunately, as they became a playground and larder for the local deer.
But there are more shrubs to go in, trees to be planted and there is fruit tree and shrub pruning under way to help them flourish. The new path, from the entrance, should also be finished before the gates reopen for visitors.
Recent storms have brought down a few trees at the gardens, but, interestingly, they have been straggly ones and not the old trees planted as part of the Peto redesign of the gardens over 100 years ago, nor specimen trees.
And there are positives. The fallen wood is great for supporting biodiversity in the gardens. Jagged stumps provide nooks and crannies while trunks and branches are suitable for making log walls or dead hedges, all good homes for insects, birds and mammals. The space can be used for new plantings of different trees and brings light to the ground, enabling the undergrowth to thrive.
The trust’s volunteers and trustees always look forward to seeing visitors back in the gardens for snowdrop days. We have had gorgeous warm days some years, but also the Beast from the East in 2018, so we never know what to expect. Like all gardeners, we are optimists and plan accordingly.
Our bakers are ready to start baking and we have prepped our autumn squashes ready for making huge quantities of soup! And we love it when visitors want to chat about the work we have done and what to look forward to for the coming year.
On Snowdrop Sundays the trust’s volunteers will provide homemade soup, local bacon, cheese or hummus rolls and delicious homemade cakes as well as hot and cold drinks. The gardens will be open from 11am to 4pm, last entry 3pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Trybooking.com, from www.eastonlodge.co.uk or on our Facebook page. Adult tickets cost £5.50 and there is free entry for under-16s. Unsold tickets will be available on the gate at £6.50.
On Snowdrop Thursdays the gardens will be open from 11am to 3pm, last entry 2pm. On these days visitors cannot visit the neighbouring garden of Warwick House, but there will still be lots of snowdrops to see, hot and cold drinks and homemade cakes. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Trybooking.com and on the gardens’ website and Facebook page. Adult tickets cost £4.50 and under-16s get in free. Unsold tickets will be available on the gate at £5.
Dogs on leads are welcome. There will be snowdrops in the green on sale.
The open days are subject to the weather. In the event that the trust has to cancel an open day, advance tickets will be refunded and the cancellation will be posted on the gardens’ website and social media.