As part of their 'Learning from Work' module, horticulture foundation degree students have recently undertaken a project that has seen them replant two of beds within the Italian Garden at Easton Lodge.
The Gardens of Easton Lodge belonged to the Countess of Warwick who was a well-known figure in the late 19th century, a "society beauty, royal mistress and early Socialist". Harold Peto redesigned the gardens in 1901 including the creation of a formal Italian Garden with a hundred-foot long balustraded lily pool. The gardens deteriorated after the First World War, and in the 1960’s much of the stonework and paving from the Italian Garden was sold off. A partial restoration of the gardens took place in the 1990's which included clearing the Italian Garden of over 100 self seeded trees.
Although the gardens had to close to the public last year (due to financial constraints), they have re-opened this year (one Sunday per month April to October) (23 May, 20 June, 18 July, 22 August, 19 September and 10 October).
The Italian gardens at Easton Lodge have always attracted attention, especially with articles in Edwardian gardening journals describing the beauty of the Canna, Dahlia and Heliotrope. Students from Writtle College chose to continue with the planting scheme and included the same plants within their design (although not necessarily the same varieties) along with other suitable tender perennials including five different varieties of Salvia.
The scheme is in the spirit of historical accuracy, but is not a restoration. This replanting project is a transitional/ temporary planting before a full restoration takes place
Robert Hanchet is the hort student leading the volunteer project, he said; “The majority of the plants were grown by me at Writtle College from seed and cuttings. I have tried to select plants that don't need too much looking after, work together well, and grow quickly, so there should be quite a display for visitors to Easton Lodge by late summer.”
The project is sponsored by http://www.diyallotment.co.uk/,which is a business run by Hort student Karen Hook.
A full restoration of the Italian Garden back to its 1902 former glory has been planned for the future by Trustees of the gardens http://www.eastonlodge.co.uk/content/?page_id=82