17 May 2012 By Billy Hawkins
It was a perfect day; the sun shone and the rain stayed away, the gardens awash with vibrant spring greens bursting into life.
However the day was all about the Kitchen Gardens at Myddelton House Gardens and the new and impressive range of Alitex Glasshouses which have been an ongoing project for the last two years. The glasshouses were painstakingly designed to replicate the ones used by the Bowles family who lived at Myddelton House.
Derrick Ashley, Chairman of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority kicked off proceedings and introduced Tim Smit KBE who with John Nelson restored the Lost Gardens of Heligan and is Co-founder of the Eden Project. Tim commented that the glasshouses were stunning and the detail of the Victorian mechanisms fantastic. He explained that the insight to invest in the project and further invest in the management process really has enabled Myddelton Gardens to capture a sense of one man's soul - E A Bowles. The gardens maintain the wonderful quirkiness of British eccentricity - nothing about Myddelton Gardens is phoney. It is real and at a second glance there is always something there to make you smile. Andrew Turvey, the Head Gardener shows around members of the press in our image here.
Quote of the day about the glasshouse (albeit somewhat controversial) from Tim was "If you can't drink it, if you’re not inspired to dream in it and you can't make love in it - you may as well tarmac it!" He was pleased to say that you could do all those things in the Alitex glasshouses at Myddelton Gardens!
Following in E A Bowles footsteps, Andrew Turvey Head Gardener had arranged for a tulip tea party to follow, which is something Bowles did every year to celebrate his birthday. Proper finger sandwiches, scones with strawberries and dainty cakes were all washed down with tea. The tables were adorned with large tea cups with tulips standing upright in tea, like something straight out the Mad Hatter's Tea Party! Nicola Browne (one of the gardening team at Myddelton) let us into the secret...there is oasis beneath the tea - don't tell anyone! I feel a summer trend coming on...
Myddelton House and Gardens is a stellar example of a restoration project that not only scientifically replicated history but also managed to encapsulate, as Tim said, the soul of the man behind it. We strongly recommend you have a look at the gardens for yourself and be prepared to smile! Click here for visitor information and more about the fabulous EA Bowles.