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Dog show part of open day at The Gardens of Easton Lodge near Great Dunmow in Essex on Sunday June 26



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Canine companions will take centre stage in a range of fun classes at The Gardens of Easton Lodge's next open day.

The Historic England grade II-registered gardens in Little Easton, near Great Dunmow, will be open to the public on Sunday June 26.

And pooches mean prizes as visitors are invited to take along their dogs to be judged by Wendy Paffey, of Wendy's Dog Grooming and Petcare Services, in a number of categories, including best puppy, best veteran, waggiest tail, prettiest bitch, handsomest dog and dog she would most like to take home.

The Countess of Warwick with some of her dogs (57248634)
The Countess of Warwick with some of her dogs (57248634)

The Countess of Warwick, who owned Easton Lodge from 1865 to 1938, loved her dogs and was a great supporter of dog shows, both in Essex and Warwickshire.

In her memoirs she remembered, with fondness, having been given a St Bernard by Marie, the ex-Queen of Naples. She was a breeder of Japanese spaniels and collies, and owned 13 dogs at the time of her death.

The gardens look magnificent in June, with foxgloves and poppies everywhere and giant onopordum acanthium (scotch thistles) making their presence felt.

Roses at The Gardens of Easton Lodge (57248641)
Roses at The Gardens of Easton Lodge (57248641)

The preservation trust's volunteers have been working hard to ensure the gardens will be looking their best for the open day – planting lots of new plants and watering when there was no rain, and now focusing on removing the weeds brought on by the showers we have had. In the Italian garden there are some unusual specimen plants and rich colours from the water lilies, roses, lilies and day lilies, among others, while the Periploca graeca, one of the gardens' Victorian heirloom plants, is smothered in its small purple flowers.

The walled kitchen garden's cut flower border is coming into life, starting with ixias among the love-in-the-mist. The soft fruit is ripening, the vegetables are filling out and there should be new-season produce on sale.

Visitors will also enjoy seeing the continued development of the Japanese garden at the bottom of the glade.

There will be a range of stalls, including plants, jams and honey, woodturning and crafts, and the trust's volunteers will provide bacon, cheese or hummus rolls, delicious home-made cakes, and hot and cold drinks from Daisy's Kiosk.

Water lillies at The Gardens of Easton Lodge (57248638)
Water lillies at The Gardens of Easton Lodge (57248638)

The gardens will be open from 11am to 5pm on Sunday June 26 with last entry at 4pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.eastonlodge.co.uk, via the gardens' Facebook page or at Trybooking.com. Tickets will be available on the gate from midday.

Adult tickets are priced £5.50 and there is free entry for children. It costs £2 to enter a dog for as many classes as they are eligible for, and they can explore the gardens on a lead.



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