Now the days are getting longer, Samantha Lyth knows the perfect haven for some fresh air, beautiful plant life… and a few surprises on the way
Although it is still cold outside a keen observer can see and hear the signs of spring. Daffodils and crocuses are peeping through in sheltered spots; there is a hint of green around the hawthorn hedges as the buds are just waiting to welcome the sun; the dawn chorus is starting up as resident birds lay claim to territory and a mate.
With spring about to burst in to action, my thoughts turn to how I will spend the much anticipated long summer evenings and lazy summer afternoons. I want somewhere beautiful, peaceful, close to nature and, being a good Yorkshire lass, not too expensive.
We are lucky in York to have quite a few places that fit the description, but perhaps my favourite is Stillingfleet Lodge Gardens, near Cawood. It is one of those places where the cares of the world fall away and you can immerse yourself in a few hours of beautiful flowers and nature watching.
The garden is the work of Vanessa Cook who has spent the last 30 years transforming the paddocks surrounding the family home in to a series of cottage style gardens, grown in an environmentally friendly way. She now welcomes the public into this space and her passion for the garden is obvious as she meets and greets the visitors.
The garden is a bit quirky. There are one or two surprises among the perennial borders, not least of which are the free-range guinea fowl and bantams.
It is a wildlife paradise – the pond attracts dragonflies, the meadow butterflies and moths, and the many trees are home to a varied bird population. The flowering borders hum to the sound of bees. With plenty of benches throughout the garden there is plenty of time to sit and stare.
With a lovely coffee shop serving locally baked cakes and a plant nursery selling plants and seeds from the garden, this is quite simply one of my favourite places to while away the hours. I am delighted to read that it will be open until 7pm on the second Wednesday of the month this summer, so we can call in after work and relax.
- The gardens are on Stewart Lane in Stillingfleet, about 20 minutes’ drive from the centre of York
- Stillingfleet Lodge Garden and Nursery will be open until September 27 every Wednesday and Friday and the first and third Saturday and Sunday of the month from 1pm to 5pm (7pm on the second Wednesday of the month)
- Price: £4.50 for adults, 50p for children aged five to 16
- There is a Wildlife Day on the 15th June from 10am to 5pm when there will be bird-ringing, owl pellet dissection, bee-identification walks, moth trapping and many experts offering advice on gardening for wildlife