The Questions - Lady Ursula Cholmeley

Lady Ursula Cholmeley is the owner (with her husband) and inpirational/motivational force behind the revival and restoration of Easton Walled Gardens.  The introduction on the website calls it Lincolnshire's 'lost' gardens and this is an apt description.  The gardens date back to the 1500s but had falled into total disrepair.  Since 2001 these gardens have been cleared, restored and re-planted and this remains work in progress.  Every time I visit I usually find something new to see.  It is a garden I enjoy any time of year, but the snowdrops are worthy of note and Ursula has made Easton the sweet-pea garden to visit.  Based mainly in the the part of the garden called 'The Pickery', she grows hundreds of sweet peas using over 100 different varieties.  I love sweet pea week, (this year it is July 5th - 12th but the sweet peas last longer than that if you cannot get that specific week), I wander up and down the rows of sweet peas, sniffing them, admiring them and noting down names.  I have bought my sweet pea seeds from Easton Walled Gardens for the past few years and I always find a new variety I 'have' to try this time.
This year Easton Walled Gardens is also hosting a photography competition for the first time.  This is very exciting, it is a place that is heaven for photographers.  The prize is £500 and there is a prestigious panel of judges.

The Questions

In which garden do you feel happiest?
Easton Walled Gardens (of course)
If you could only have five gardening tools, which would they be?
Decent secateurs, Joe’s gardening gloves, wheelbarrow, sharp trowel and ladies spade.
If you could only have five garden-related books, which would they be?
RHS encyclopaedia of garden plants, Christopher Lloyds ‘Meadows’, Anna Pavord’s ‘Bulb’ ‘A bunch of Sweet Peas’ by Henry Donald and, if possible, access to the internet.
What was the most defining moment of your life so far?
Deciding to restore Easton Walled Gardens.
What are you most proud of?
That we are still working on it!
If you won the lottery, what would you do?
Repair walls, design and plant new areas, train new gardeners and set up a foundation to ensure the future of the gardens.
Who are your garden heroes (no more than three)
John Tradescant, Charles Jencks and Beth Chatto
What skill would you like to learn and why (does not have to be gardening related)
We have some excellent and interesting gardeners from Europe who visit the gardens. I would love to be fluent in at least one foreign language.
If you could visit any garden right this minute, which one would it be?
West Dean.
What is your current plant obsession?
Which garden tool is never far from your hand?
My iphone: For making notes and taking pictures to remind me of our successes and failures when planning next year’s plantings.
What is your favourite gardening/plant related word?
‘Plantist’ – slightly derogatory word (poor banter) that my teenage children use to describe their mother. See also J. Clarkson ‘Vegetablist’
What do you wish you could do better?
Predict the weather!
What is the most important lesson you have learned so far?
Oh dear, there are so many, I think working with plants means you never stop learning.
What makes a perfect day for you?
Weeding with the sun on my back, discussing gardening with my horticultural friends, lots of tea and cake.
If you had one piece of advice to offer to someone what would it be?
Have a go, don’t wait until everything is perfect, just try it
Gnome or no-gnome?
Gnome..all the way.

I was really pleased that Ursula agreed to answer the questions and very grateful.

Next time:  Chris Collins

(photo from Easton Walled Garden's twitter profile).


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