Garden Showcase - Mount Ephraim Gardens
There is something to see at Mount Ephraim Gardens at any time of the year. Spring and early summer, of course, are the obvious seasons, when the flowering plants are at their best and most colourful, but every season has its attractions. Late summer, when many of the plants have finished flowering, is the time to appreciate the incredible variety of the foliage, particularly the trees, displaying every hue of green imaginable. Later, when the trees acquire their autumn colouring, the gardens are truly spectacular. Even in winter, although the gardens are not open to the public, there is much of interest, not least the open vistas revealed only when the trees have shed their leaves.
Mount Ephraim Gardens are both privately owned and maintained and create an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity with a wonderful contrast between the formal and informal. The gardens offer a fresh and relaxing approach for our visitors, and although we have a suggested route, we like our guests to wander through the gardens at leisure. As one of our previous visitors remarked "Very relaxing and peaceful - no formality - will visit again".
The nine acres are remarkable for their variety, and against a backdrop of trees of outstanding shapes and contrast they include unusual topiary, water garden and arboretum, all set in the heart of a progressive fruit farm. Magnificent views extend over the Swale and Thames estuary, and the gardens are surrounded by woodland parks and orchards. Rose terraces enclosed by yew hedges slope down to a lake with a woodland area as a backdrop. Planting throughout is intensive giving colour and interest throughout the year.
Mount Ephraim Gardens are in the heart of an 800 acre estate incorporating the house, gardens, progressive fruit farm and grazing. The splendid late Victorian mansion and gardens have magnificent views over the parkland and the Swale and Thames estuary.
Japanese Rock Gardens
The Japanese rock garden, ornamented with stone lanterns and based on a series of pools, follows an alternative gently winding route.
Japanese rock gardens were a fashionable feature at the turn of the century. The rock garden at Mount Ephraim followed this trend with its stone lanterns and bridge, but no attempt has ever been made to plant in an oriental style there is a series of pools with a miniature cascade. Spring bulbs are followed by flowering cherries, dwarf rhododendrons and azaleas. Shrubs are widely used, with foliage effects produced by beriberi's, cotinus maples and variegated hollies.
The rocks came from a quarry near Maidstone and were transported by means of a trailer drawn by a steam engine. The driver of this lived in the Keeper's Cottage in Blean woods and the noise of his engine travelled so far that a child was sent out to listen for it, so that his wife could time the cooking of the dinner to coincide with his arrival home.
The special charm of the rock garden is the meandering path that gives access to all parts, enabling the visitor to view many of the diminutive plants at close quarters.
The Mount Ephraim gardens are a wonderful place to visit and ideal for weddings and receptions. Mount Ephraim opens each season on Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, and from then every day except Tuesdays and Fridays from April to September from 11am until 6pm. To find out more about the gardens, special events or group visits please contact Lesley Dawes on 01227 751496 or visit www.mountephraimgardens.co.uk
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