Things didn’t bode well for the first garden visit of 2015, a crash on the M1 threatened to make the views of cars on tarmac rather than beautiful gardens and wonderful topiary and after that cleared the weather tried its hardest to put a dampener on the day. But EBTS UK members don’t let things like the weather get in the way of a good day out and after some delicious home made tea and cakes the sun came out for the rest of the trip.
The aim of the day was to visit three gardens that have in one way or another undergone restoration. The first having dealt with box blight by replanting with lavender, the second having had a lottery grant to bring back its original splendour and the third on a grand scale managed by English heritage.
The Manor House
The first garden of the day was The Manor House, Church Road, Stevington. Owned by Kathy Brown & her husband Simon this is a garden made up of a variety of artist inspired rooms and borders, a range of different walks, herbaceous & edible flower borders, formal & cottage gardens.
The Swiss Gardens
Our next garden was The Swiss Gardens at Old Warden Park, Biggleswade. This garden has just undergone a £3.5m restoration which aims to bring it back to its original splendour as a romantic pleasure garden.
The garden was started around 200 years ago by Lord Robert Henley Ongley who transformed a boggy brickfield into a garden dotted with small buildings and features, this was both a private sanctuary and for show.
In the 1870s, a few Victorian flourishes were added by the new owner Joseph Shuttleworth, whilst retaining the original layout.
After lunch it was on to Wrest Park where the gardens are being restored by English Heritage in a 20 year programme of works. The project is vast and Sheila who looks after the Upper Gardens gave us a very clear and detailed guided tour of the works. Some of these caused some discussion particularly around the planned removal of some very old box plants that had rather beautifully flopped onto the path that they originally bordered onto exposing their wonderfully coloured stems.
By the end of the day the EBTS UK group had seen a range of interesting examples of garden restoration and the different ways of doing things dependant on size, funding and an organisations aims.
Thanks to all who made the day so enjoyable.