All set for the Gardens of Easton Lodge's first full season Open Day of the year

Acer in Japanese style garden

Acer in Japanese style garden - Credit: Supplied by The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust

Essex's Gardens of Easton Lodge will be open on Sunday, April 24 for the first full season Open Day of 2022. 

Visitors to the gardens at Little Easton, near Great Dunmow, will see the last of the daffodils and enjoy the tulips.

They will also see the first roses in the Italian Garden and the fruit blossom in the walled kitchen garden.

The historic gardens also have cowslips and bluebells in the grass and violets colonise its nooks and crannies. 

A spokesperson said: "It is a lovely time of year to appreciate trees and the Gardens have a wide range of interesting specimen trees.

Acer Palmatum, April 2021

Acer Palmatum, April 2021 - Credit: Supplied by The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust

"The fresh leaves of the acers are always spectacular in the spring, and the old trees in the Gardens have their stories to tell."

Visitors will also see the trees planted over winter, many of which were raised by Henry Girling, renowned local arboriculturalist, who passed away in 2021.

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Henry worked with the Countess of Warwick’s son in the 1950s, surveying trees all over the UK and planting trees at Easton Lodge.

His trees include unique specimens and other unusual varieties that will bring new colours to the Essex site's gardens. 

Tree planting in the Glade at The Gardens of Easton Lodge, January 2022

Tree planting in the Glade at The Gardens of Easton Lodge, January 2022 - Credit: Supplied by The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust

Children will enjoy visiting the treehouse and finding out about the Countess’ baby elephant, Kim.

There will be a fun trail and craft activities for children, too. 

At the Open Day there will be plant and craft stalls.

The Gardens of Easton Lodge Preservation Trust's volunteers will display archive information on the history of the Gardens and its trees and there will be guided tours.

They will be joined by local beekeepers, coppicers, the Woodland Trust and Essex Wildlife Trust, so that visitors will be able to learn about local wildlife too.

There will be the usual local bacon, cheese or hummus rolls and delicious homemade cakes, hot and cold drinks. 


When are the Gardens of Easton Lodge open?

The Gardens of Easton Lodge will be open from 11am to 5pm on Sunday, April 24, with last entry at 4pm.

Tickets may be purchased in advance, available through website www.eastonlodge.co.uk or directly through the booking agent Trybooking.com.

Tickets will also be available on the gate after noon. Adults pay £5.50, and it's free entry for children. Dogs on lead are welcome.  


History of gardens at Easton Lodge

The Gardens of Easton Lodge, at Little Easton, are Historic England Grade II registered.

They were redesigned in 1902 by the Edwardian designer Harold Peto, for their owner, the Countess of Warwick, also known as Daisy.

They are the only example of Peto’s work in the East of England.

The Countess loved her Essex home and regularly and lavishly entertained guests there.

In her young days her guests included the aristocratic Marlborough House set and the Prince of Wales – who took her as his 'Darling Daisy' mistress – before he acceded to the throne as Edward VII.

After the Countess became a socialist, she also hosted meetings of the Labour Party and Trade Union movement in her house and gardens. 

The Gardens fell into disrepair after their use by the US Army Air Force and RAF in the Second World War.

They are being restored and made open to the public by the Preservation Trust and its band of dedicated volunteers.

The Gardens comprise Peto’s Italian garden centred around a large lilypond; a reconstruction of Peto’s treehouse in an old oak tree in the lime wood; formal and informal gardens, including the old croquet lawn; a historic walled kitchen garden; a small but expanding Japanese-style garden; and a wide variety of specimen trees around the Gardens, including nine regional champion trees and the trees donated by Henry and Janet Girling. 

The gardens of Warwick House, which is the remains of the mansion that was Easton Lodge, will also be open to visitors, courtesy of their owners.