We start the first day with a tour of the garden of the Dower House, Melbourne, Derbyshire by the owner, Griselda Kerr. She is an EBTS member and the author of The Apprehensive Gardener, published in May 2019. Her garden takes advantage of its sloping site by means of hidden paths passing through a copious variety of herbaceous borders, shrubs and trees to the river below, with topiary and formal hedging cleverly providing punctuation.
Wheelchair access is to the upper garden only.
On our short walk to the Melbourne Hall Tea Rooms for lunch Griselda has recommended that we visit the spectacular Norman parish church, one of Simon Jenkin’s Top Hundred. Time will be allowed in our itinerary.
After lunch we visit the historic gardens of Melbourne Hall, the family home of the Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr. We will see formal gardens laid out in the early 18th century, with avenues, a parterre, and a yew tunnel, in the manner of Le Notre. Twenty of the decorative features in the grounds are Grade I listed and include the ‘Vase of the Seasons’ said to be one of the finest Baroque lead sculptures in an English garden.
Afternoon tea will take place at the Tea Rooms.
The second day starts with a visit to Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire, the ancestral home of Lord Byron. Ash Davison, gardener there and an EBTS member, will take us on a tour of the gardens, which include a formal garden, where he will show us the work he’s been doing for the last five years to restore the parterres and shaped trees. Much of the garden was landscaped by the fourth Lord Byron in the early 18th century but the garden fell into ruin during the time of the spendthrift fifth baron. Even trees were sold, to pay debts. Only relatively recently has its current owner, the Nottingham City Council, paid particular attention to the historic gardens.
A simple pub lunch at the Griffin’s Head, Papplewick follows.
The day concludes with a visit to Felley Priory, Underwood, Nottinghamshire. Felley was founded in the twelfth century but its garden was created by Major and the late Mrs Chaworth-Musters in 1976. Topiary forms the original framework from which the garden was established. Fantastical and formal shapes emerge from the formal hedging, complemented by topiary swans, castles and peacocks. All provide a wonderful setting for the priory, built of warm, red brick.
The day ends with a cream tea in the tearoom, at around four o’clock or earlier for those who wish to start long journeys home.
Two Optional Extras
After tea on Day 1 there will be a chance to visit the award-winning Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery, Smisby (15 minutes away). The owner, Robert Vernon, has invited us to look round, free of charge. It is one of the leading suppliers of rare woody plants in the U.K. The nine acre garden, which surrounds the nursery, is on the RHS’s list of recommended gardens.
Robert has warned us that there is no topiary at his nursery, but he does have a Metasequoia hedge which might be of particular interest to us.
Dinning with friends in Melbourne
Dinner is not included but members who would like to see more of each other at the end of the day are invited to book dinner at The Bay Tree Restaurant in Melbourne (tel: Susie on 01332 863 358 or email: email@example.com). The suggested time is 8pm. Members should please make their own bookings directly with the restaurant and mention EBTS. The restaurant will pass to EBTS the names of those who have booked, for administration purposes.
The restaurant is holding open enough covers for us until 18th August. After this date booking will be available to all, so please book before this date to ensure you have a member’s booking.
Accommodation in the Melbourne area
Accommodation is not included. We have been given the following suggestions, but your choice is yours and we cannot say whether any might be suitable for you.
Breedon Hall 01332 864935535
Melbourne View Hotel 01332 8653530
Harpur’s of Melbourne 01283 704149
Priest House Country House Hotel 01332 810649
Donnington Cottage Guest House 01332 810618
Early booking is recommended in view of the current demand for staycations.
A detailed itinerary will be emailed to all participants nearer the time along with lunch menus and optional dinner menu. It is important that you let us know your menu choices in a timely manner to allow the venues to properly prepare for our visit.
Suitable clothing for UK weather and sensible shoes with a good grip are recommended as we can’t guarantee sunshine and there are a variety of ground conditions in the gardens being visited.