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Book your tickets for the first open day of the year at the Gardens of Easton Lodge near Great Dunmow in Essex

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The Gardens of Easton Lodge is holding its first open day of the year on Sunday (April 18).

Volunteers will be joined by beekeepers and members of Essex Wildlife Trust to give visitors the chance to learn about the history of the gardens and local wildlife.

Visitors to the attraction at Little Easton, near Great Dunmow, will also be able to snap up some plants, local coppicers’ plant supports, honey, soaps and, perhaps, some rhubarb.

The gardens should be looking lush after all the winter rains. There will be the next wave of spring flowers – cowslips, bluebells and tulips – following on from the last of the daffodils, primroses and violets.

The first roses should be in flower in the Italian garden, surrounded by the fresh greens of euphorbia and other burgeoning herbaceous plants.

In the walled kitchen garden there will be blossom on the fruit trees, with bumblebees and honey bees busying themselves collecting pollen and maybe some early butterflies.

Leaves will be bursting open on trees around the gardens – which are grade II registered by Historic England – and birds will be busy nesting.

Although the really wet winter and Covid restrictions have limited the team’s efforts, visitors will be able to spot some changes at the gardens. More apple trees have been planted in the kitchen garden, with support from the East of England Apples and Orchards Project, and a few new specimen trees have been added to the glade. Work has also been done on the paths while other new planting will become evident through the season.

Guests will also see the progress being made by stonemasons who have been restoring the balustrade around the lily pond in the Italian garden.

And sustenance will be on offer in the form of local bacon, cheese or hummus rolls and delicious home-made cakes as well as hot and cold drinks.

The gardens will be open from 11am to 5pm on Sunday (April 18) with last entry at 4pm. Tickets must be bought in advance from www.eastonlodge.co.uk, the gardens’ Facebook page or Trybooking.com. They are priced at £5.50 (plus booking fee) for adults while children get in free. Dogs on leads are welcome.

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