Resplendent with perennial blooms, Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and Restaurant is much loved for its beautiful gardens. It’s during spring that the grounds really come into their own. Visitors staying at this time of year will notice yellow, white and purple crocuses popping up on the lawns, along with scatterings of snowdrops and a sunny assortment of daffodils, both large and small.
Head Gardener Mike is particularly busy in February and March, harvesting the first few batches of spring produce. “At the moment, we’ve got some great micro salads that we’ve had growing since the start of this year,” he explains. “This kind of produce is really useful for our chef, along with the leeks, curly kale and cabbages that we’ve been growing in our polytunnels.”
The gardening team works closely with the kitchen to make optimal use of its vegetable patches and to supplement ingredients required for the daily menu, whether it’s freshly picked runner beans or a flourish of fragrant sweet peas to garnish. “Steve, our chef, is always happy to use what we can grow,” Mike says. “If there is something specific that he’s interested in, we try our best to make it happen. Last year the kitchen was really keen on experimenting with different varieties of mint, so we grew a selection including chocolate mint, which the bar was also keen to use. Minimising waste on the produce we use is a priority for us.”
Having joined Summer Lodge last year, Mike has big plans for the gardens. “One of my missions is to bring back all the traditional perennial and annual plants such as lupins and foxgloves. I’m hoping to introduce those again to fill out our herbaceous borders and really give the garden its traditional English country garden feel.”
In addition to its new blooms, the gardens at Summer Lodge recently unveiled a new games den, which was installed to welcome children of all ages to the hotel for the first time. Mike comments: “The den means our younger guests will be kept very busy exploring the garden while also creating some free time for their parents. It’s well-stocked with games, paper, pens and toys, and it even has wifi and heating!”
Mike has plenty of useful tips for creating a beautiful garden at home. ‘My suggestion is to consider your garden a bit like an outside room. It should be an extension of your home. At Summer Lodge we’re trying to create plenty more personal spaces. Wander near the pond and you’ll notice a Japanese influence. We’re busy creating different pockets, such as a little wild section that we’ve re-established for our resident hedgehogs and frogs. My final piece of advice is to try things out and have the confidence to make mistakes—Mother Nature can be very temperamental but don’t be disheartened.”
Experience the delights of an English country garden in spring while staying at Red Carnation Hotels’ Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and Restaurant.