‘A Dream of Nirvana – Almost too good to be true’ – President Roosevelt on a visit to Easton, summer 1902
Easton Walled Garden
It’s a long old drive from Felixstowe in Suffolk up to Leeds. I was in no hurry to leave the comfortable and welcoming rectory in Alderton and join the busy A14 west and then the A1 north. The weather had taken a distinct turn for the better so I checked my list of possible stops en route and decided on Easton Walled Garden in Lincolnshire just a minute or two from the A1. By then I’d have more than half of the journey behind me. According to the website the gardens are open Wednesdays to Fridays and Sundays throughout the season. Dash it! I was travelling on a Monday. But wait. What’s this? The gardens had some additional opening days – daily for a week in February for the snowdrops and daily for a week 30 June to 6 July (this year) for Sweet Peas! My luck was in.
“The gardens are at least 400 years old. They cover 12 acres of a beautiful valley just off the A1. Home to the Cholmeley family for 14 generations, the gardens were abandoned in 1951 when Easton Hall was pulled down. The revival of these gardens has been ongoing since late 2001.
Easton Hall in the 19th century
There had been a house on this site since at least 1592 when Sir Henry Cholmeley (1562-1620) came to live in Lincolnshire on the death of his Uncle, Robert Cholmeley, in 1590 … Sir Henry built his house on a site overlooking the River Witham and this is believed to have survived until the beginning of the 19th Century …In 1805 the house was altered and enlarged by Sir Montague Cholmeley, first baronet (1772-1831). … In 1872 [the hall was described] as ‘large and handsome, with large and elegantly furnished apartments, containing many valuable paintings and other works of art’. … [The Hall] was requisitioned at the start of the Second World War. It became home to units of the Royal Artillery and and of the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (of Arnhem fame) for four years, in which time it suffered considerable damage both to the fabric of the building and to the remaining contents. In 1951 the Hall was demolished. … The family still own the estate and have been the driving force behind the gardens revival.” [From the website]
The remaining buildings from the orchard site now a wildflower meadow
River Witham canalised by the Elizabethans …
… shored up and bridged by the Victorians
Easton Garden. In the middle is the Yew Tunnel.
The Yew Tunnel
Bird Feeders from the Viewing Area
Having stretched my legs and inspected the extensive gardens I returned to the cottage garden, the pickery and the history and information rooms to look at the sweet peas and learn more about them and Easton Hall and Gardens.
Pick Your Own
Sweet Peas in the Cottage Garden
Sweet Pea Specimens
“Even the worst flower arranger cannot fail to make a decent fist of arranging sweet peas. To start they usually look best on their own, they will look good in a wide-necked or a narrow container and whatever you do, the scent will make up for any artistic shortcomings. The only rule to be aware of is to make sure your container is in proportion to the size of the stems. Short grandiflora peas look good in little vintage medicine bottles. Large flowers for exhibition can be placed in traditional vases up to about 10 inches high.” [Information Board]
Beautiful! – And smell even better.