Sweet Pea Week

Plan your visit during Sweet Pea Week…

Sweet Pea Week 2017. Open Daily 2nd -9th July 11am – 4pm

sweet peas

Are you thinking of planning a trip to Easton to experience 100 varieties of sweet peas in full flower? Here’s our useful guide to staying, visiting our area, how long to allow in the gardens and what to see.

New for Sweet Pea Week this year – you will find in the vegetable garden a display of semi-grandiflora. These beautiful sweet peas combine the old fashioned scent with the larger, modern blooms.

First, we are assuming you love flowers, our great heritage and the English Summer….and probably a fine piece of cake to go with it. If so, you are in good company! It has taken many careful trips on sunny afternoons eating cake, drinking tea and wandering around the beautiful parks and gardens nearby to make sure this is a properly well-researched list. It’s a hard life but somehow we have forced ourselves to make the effort. So to start, here are a few timings from some of our beautiful market towns:

Stamford, Lincolnshire: Georgian, gorgeous Stamford is a 20 minute drive south of us just off A1. Filled with fine restaurants, interesting shops and heart-stopping architecture, it boasts Elizabethan Burghley House on the south side of the town. Stamford is also a great place to stay if you are visiting the area with some excellent hotels.

Oakham, Rutland: Oakham is the capital town of picture perfect tiny Rutland. Again, this is a 20 minute drive from Easton Walled Gardens. Rutland Water and Barnsdale Gardens are just this side of Oakham. Barnsdale Lodge Hotel is an exceptionally comfortable place to stay and a great place to base yourself if you are exploring the Lincolnshire Vales and Rutland.

Grantham, Lincolnshire:

15 minutes away, the main rail line to Scotland stops regularly at Grantham and a taxi to the gardens will cost about £20 one way. The station is just 1 hour 10 mins from London, Kings Cross and two and half hours from Newcastle.

Grantham’s charms have been somewhat obscured in recent years but it still boasts a fine church (St.Wulframs) and The Angel is an ancient coaching inn. Beautiful Belton House is on the town’s north east fringe and has an epic adventure playground.

Nearer to home: Easton Walled Gardens is in the ‘Golden triangle’ of gently rolling countryside bounded by Burghley House to the South, Belvoir Castle to the West and Grimsthorpe Castle to the East.

Grimsthorpe Castle is not far from the market town of Bourne and is, despite its name, a stunning hidden gem built in creamy local limestone. Home to the family of the Dukes of Ancaster, its 3,000 acre parkland is popular with walkers, naturalists and families who can hire bikes for the day here.

Sir Isaac Newton’s home, Woolsthorpe Manor, is less than 2 miles away (as the crow flies, slightly longer by car).

WHERE CAN I EAT?

The Olive Branch, Clipsham – a traditional country pub serving award winning food, real ales and fine wines.

The Cholmeley Arms, Burton Coggles – part of the Easton Estate; this lively, award-winning local pub and farm shop is extremely popular so ring ahead to avoid disappointment.
The Pantry, Corby Glen – ideal for a slice of cake and a pot of tea in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
The Tearoom at Easton Walled Gardens – perfect for light lunches and cream teas.
The Woodhouse Arms, Corby Glen – a lovely mix of light bites, traditional pub classics and gourmet treats.

WHERE CAN I STAY?

In one of our beautiful self-catering cottages in the heart of rural lincolnshire Click here for full details.

Barnsdale Lodge Hotel, Barnsdale
The Cholmeley Arms, Burton Coggles
The Cross Swords Inn, Skillington
The Beech House at the Olive Branch, Clipsham

HOW LONG SHOULD I ALLOW FOR MY VISIT TO EASTON WALLED GARDENS?

During Sweet Pea Week we are open every day from 11pm – 4pm and, on a warm day, you could bring a rug and spend the whole five hours here. It is a very relaxing place to be! If you are on a schedule, allow about 2 hours to see the gardens, enjoy lunch or a cream tea and do some shopping. We are easy to find, but for full directions and a handy map, Click Here

WHAT IS THERE FOR CHILDREN?

We have developed the garden to allow adults and children to enjoy the gardens together so we hope that you will find something to catch young imaginations throughout the gardens. We also hope that they will be properly worn out to allow a peaceful trip home! Here are a few ideas:

The Wren Trail – Children can search the gardens to find the hidden letters. If they find all the letters and guess the word, they will receive a small prize to keep and take home! (£1.50 per child)

The Bird Hide – The perfect spot for a bit of bird watching. Come and spy finches, kingfishers, blue tits and swallows.

We also have a tree swing, turf maze, the Yew Tunnel and various footballs, croquet sets and tennis balls available to be played with on the lawns- plenty of fun for children and adults alike!

WHAT CAN I SEE IN JULY AT EASTON WALLED GARDENS?

100 varieties of sweet peas are displayed in the pickery, vegetable and cottage gardens. Herbaceous displays fill the 80m Long Borders and Velvet Border. Throughout the garden, roses may still be flowering but it is the meadows that provide the wow factor. Scabious, knapweed and waving grasses are alive with insects, butterflies, moths and bees. Swallows swoop over the river and into the potting sheds and bossy wrens will tell you how it is if you stop to watch them from the bridge. Red kites visit the gardens on most days of the year and there can be dramatic aerial displays when they encounter buzzards or rooks. The gardens are over 400 years old and surrounded by mature parkland (for more click here or visit the history room). It’s not hard to feel the timeless beauty of an English landscape wherever you are in the gardens.

We hope this has encouraged you to visit us this summer. If you would like further ideas on where to stay or what to do visit southwestlincs.com or hiddenengland.org If you have any queries about the gardens please contact Angela on 01476 530063 or you can tweet us @ewgardens

The Science of Composting

Who knew there was an art to composting? Ollie, our Senior Gardener, explains what’s behind the perfect compost…

Compost is beloved by avid gardeners everywhere and the process by which it is created is magical. The scientific word for compost is humus and it is created by decomposition. Decomposition is the breaking down of organic matter to humus. Typically, the kinds of organic matter that are added to a compost heap are grass clippings, paper shreddings, cardboard, fruit and veg, twigs, leaves and wood chips, but organic matter is anything that is/was alive.Compost

Humus is a wonder material for plants, often called “black gold”. It is very difficult to describe as its qualities vary depending on the organic matter it was derived from, but it is a dark, spongy substance, full of plant nutrients that improves aeration and water retention when added to soils. So how is it made?

We see many macro organisms such as worms, ants, mites, centipedes and fungi living in our compost heaps and although they play an important role in mixing up organic matter and breaking it into smaller particles, bacteria are the main organisms that do the work in decomposition. There are millions of species of bacteria and between them they are capable of digesting any organic matter.

Bacteria are divided into two groups, aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic means with oxygen, anaerobic meaning without oxygen. Aerobic bacteria are vital in the composting process, whereas anaerobic bacteria can create toxins harmful to plants. It is important therefore to keep the compost heap aerated to promote aerobic bacteria and discourage anaerobic.

compost heap

The good bacteria feed on nitrogen and carbon, which are the chemical elements that all organic matter is made from. Soft plant tissues, such as grass clippings, veg peelings and young leaves contain more nitrogen than carbon, whereas woody material such as bark, twigs, wood chip, paper and cardboard are higher in carbon than nitrogen. The aerobic bacteria need a balance of carbon to nitrogen to function properly (ideally around 40% C to 60% N).

In order to make good compost we need to carefully manage the decomposition process. The best way to manage a compost heap is to add layers different organic matter at a ratio of 40% carbon rich material and 60% nitrogen rich material, encouraging aeration by periodically turning/forking over. Carbon rich, woody materials such as shrub prunings are best chopped or shredded into small pieces to increase their surface area and speed up bacterial decomposition.

There is an art to making compost, but if you understand aerobic bacteria and give them what they need you’ll have no problem in producing your own black gold!

compost heap