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The Gardens of Easton Lodge spring back into life for a new season of open Thursdays and Sundays





The Gardens of Easton Lodge reopen for visitors on April 13 and will be open every Thursday throughout the six-month season as well as one Sunday a month.

The Historic England grade II registered gardens at Little Easton, near Great Dunmow, were scheduled to reopen on April 6, but recent heavy rain combined with construction work on new paths prompted trustees to delay the reopening.

The first main-season open Sunday is on April 23 – St George's Day – and will be a day for learning about the Tudor origins of Easton Lodge.

Daffodils in Lime Wood (63210991)
Daffodils in Lime Wood (63210991)

April is a gorgeous month at the gardens, with daffodils everywhere. The Lime Wood daffodils are particularly special, as they are a mix of hybrid varieties that were likely planted in 1902, when Edwardian designer Harold Peto redesigned the gardens for their owner, the Countess of Warwick, also known as Daisy.

She entertained guests at Easton Lodge regularly and lavishly, including the Prince of Wales, who was her lover for eight years before he acceded to the throne as King Edward VII in 1901 following Queen Victoria's death.

In 2003, the International Daffodil Registrar, Sally Kington, recorded the varieties. Now retired, she returned to the gardens in March to help trustees identify the daffs still thriving.

Sally Kington and trustee Sue Gilbert with the Telamonius Plenus daffodil, the oldest that Sally found in the Lime Wood 20 years ago when she was International Daffodil Registrar
Sally Kington and trustee Sue Gilbert with the Telamonius Plenus daffodil, the oldest that Sally found in the Lime Wood 20 years ago when she was International Daffodil Registrar

The oldest that she found 20 years ago, which can still be found in the Lime Wood, is the Telamonius Plenus, a double daffodil with grey-green leaves and the flower a mix of deep yellow and paler yellow. It was first recorded in England in 1629. This and the 20 or so other hybrid varieties developed in the 19th century would have been on the market in 1902.

Through April, cowslips and violets pop up everywhere, tulips bring a burst of colour to Peto’s Italian Garden and, by the end of the month, there are bluebells.

Magnolias flower in the Glade, and in the walled kitchen garden the blossom on the fruit trees follows on from the plums, peaches and nectarines, which start to flower in late March, and to the cherries, quince and first apples and pears by the end of April.

The trees break into leaf, with the acers a clear favourite, and the first rose, the canary bird, comes into flower.

Tulips in Edwardian designer Harold Peto's Italian Garden
Tulips in Edwardian designer Harold Peto's Italian Garden

The gardens, which fell into disrepair after their use by the US Army Air Force and RAF in the Second World War, are being restored and made open to the public by the Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust and its band of dedicated volunteers, who work throughout the year to make them the lovely place they are for visitors.

Income from gate receipts and catering enable the trust to add to the planting in the gardens, undertake improvement projects – such as a new path laid this winter – and restore historic features.

On open Thursdays the gardens open at 11am and visitors will see the trust’s volunteers at work until closing time at 3pm. Children can enjoy the treehouse and elephant in Lime Wood. Dogs on leads are welcome. Hot and cold drinks and home-made cakes are available.

Acer Platanoides and other trees break into leaf through April
Acer Platanoides and other trees break into leaf through April

On April 23 the trust will be hosting a Tudor Day. Visitors will discover the Tudor beginnings of the mansion and estate at Easton Lodge and learn about Tudor times.

Activities, provided by the Companye of Merrie Folke and others, include archery and armour, net making and weaving, Tudor games, quill writing and pottage making.

Fresh green leaves at the bottom of the Glade (63211005)
Fresh green leaves at the bottom of the Glade (63211005)
Magnolias flower in the Glade
Magnolias flower in the Glade
The first rose to flower, the canary bird
The first rose to flower, the canary bird
The elephant surrounded by daffodils April 2022 (63211013)
The elephant surrounded by daffodils April 2022 (63211013)

Tickets can be booked in advance. Gates open at 11am and close at 5pm. For more information go to www.eastonlodge.co.uk.



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