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Friday, 28 February 2014

Snowdrops at Easton Walled Gardens

I've wanted to go to Easton Walled Gardens in Lincolnshire for ages. Last Saturday, a beautiful, bright, sunny day, and as a treat following my husband's hernia operation, we finally made it. This is the garden which Franklin D. Roosevelt described thus:-

''A dream of Nirvana...almost too good to be true.'
 
He and Eleanor spent part of their honeymoon here but much has changed since that time. During the Second World War the grand house was requisitioned by the army and left in such a damaged state that in 1951 it was demolished. For the next fifty years the twelve acres of gardens were abandoned, until 2001 when Ursula Cholmeley, whose family has owned the estate for over 400 years, came to their rescue. And what a rescue it has been. Easton is renowned for its David Austin roses and sweet peas amongst other things but we were there for the snowdrops.

 
 
There was a short talk by a local Galanthophile, Jackie Murray, where we learned that the snowdrop which we consider to be English, Galanthus nivalis,  originates from the Eastern Mediterranean and  it is believed to be the spread of Christianity which brought them to Europe. This explains why some of the most beautiful displays of snowdrops are at religious sites such as Hodsock Priory or Anglesey Abbey and in small country churchyards. Snowdrops are also known as Candlemas bells and it is traditional to place snowdrops on the altar at Candlemas (February 2nd). Snowdrops are seen as symbols of hope and bringing some of the flowers into the house is thought to purify the home.
 
There are over 600 varieties of snowdrop and the Russian snowdrop is actually the Sochi snowdrop. Apparently when the snow melts the slopes will still be white, but covered with these beautiful white flowers. The bulbs for this particular variety travelled West with people returning from the Crimean War. Some snowdrop bulbs can fetch enormous amounts of money. Recently one bulb was reported to have sold for £700.

But back to Easton. The gardens nestle in a valley and the River Witham wends its way through the grounds.

 
 

And at the moment there are swathes of snowdrops around almost every corner.




There are sunny aconites too.

 
 
And plenty of space for children to kick a ball around, a lovely place to have some delicious, freshly prepared food and a swing attached to a big old tree. I can't resist a swing. If there's one around I have to go on it!
 
 
 
 
There are snowdrops in small, hidden places.
 
 
 
 
And beautiful, wide benches to sit on and reflect.
 
 
 

 


If you want to spend a little longer in contemplation there is this wonderful little retreat to hire.




It is light and airy but cosy inside.




I can just imagine sitting in here to do some writing. It would be so inspirational.

Hopefully we'll be able to go back to Easton in the summer to see the roses. The gardens open again for the spring/summer season on Sunday March 2nd if you would like to pay a visit.

In the meantime I shall enjoy the snowdrops in my own garden. They are mainly Galanthus nivalis but there are also some lovely double ones which I had from my mother. She would certainly have agreed with the following quote:-
 
'One can hardly picture an English garden without the snowdrop.'
 
E.A. Bowles (1914)
 

Thank-you so much for dropping by and reading this post. I hope you have a lovely week. 


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