A couple of hours at the Gardens of Easton Lodge
Yesterday (Sunday) I visited the GoEL to look at the snowdrops. Haven’t been there for a few years and was also curious to see how the Trust’s volunteers had been getting on with their restoration of the gardens.
As some of you already know there are generally two successive weekends where the gardens, both private (thanks to the Warwick House owners) and public sectors, are open to everybody. The previous weekend’s opening was unfortunately cancelled due to Storm Desmond. Far too dangerous to be viewing snowdrops under those trees! Seriously!
Sunday was better. It didn’t rain whilst I was there but the noise of the wind, although nowhere near as bad as the previous two weekends was certainly making itself known. The car park was full and I was directed to park across the road and drove a short distance along one of the concrete tracks used by the farmer. I got out of the car and was nearly blown over. I have noted before that the wind really picks up across the flat fields and slightly undulating countryside but was assured by a parking marshall that the wind would die down once I got into the gardens.
I walked behind a young family along the track, the toddlers with them struggling to walk in a straight line but their parents were encouraging them to ignore the wind with promises of the tree house they were obviously excited about seeing.
Once in the garden the tall trees did their work in breaking the back of the wind. Mind you, it was still blowy and you had to secure your belongings when sitting down. And more than one person’s flat cap got blown off his head!
The snowdrops were plentiful. It was a good year, this year. The tree house was terrific. (Of course I had to climb the steps and try it out.) And the Italian Garden was a revelation compared to when I last saw it.
It was couple of hours very well spent.
But as I drove away I wondered about the future. What would the gardens be like if they were surrounded by 10,000 houses. 20,000+ people living in the immediate vicinity. Would the future risk to the GoEL be as great as Hatfield Forest is experiencing today?
“Hatfield Forest is currently experiencing rapid and unsustainable growth in visitor numbers which is putting it under considerable pressure and there are signs that designated/protected features are being degraded and damaged. Part of the growth in visitor numbers can be attributed to the increase in housing in the local area.”
(Hatfield Forest SSSI NNR Mitigation Strategy – 24 June 2019)
And perversely I also thought about the wind blowing across the fields where 10,000 houses may go. Those who visit Easton Park most days know full well just how windy and cold it can get. Recent winds are extraordinary but even a breeze can be magnified manyfold across the fields at Easton Park and with no trees to break it up (not for decades at least) it wouldn’t be my first choice to live there. But with no choice I’d have the numbers of a local builder and fencing erector on speed dial!
The Gardens of Easton Lodge – pay a visit. It might be one of your last chances to witness historic gardens in an historic setting if development at Easton Park is approved.