Day 102 of (floral) Lockdown – the ‘Open Gardens’ edition

Day 102 of (floral) Lockdown

On Day 102 of lockdown we have two floral stories, Open Gardens 2020 and a giant Echium.  In other news, two shorts:

  • New plye equipmentFollowing the recent announcement by the Prime Minster, the lockdown restrictions will be eased further with effect from 4th July.  There will be more venues opening, including playgrounds for children, & pubs/beer gardens for adults, but the main guidance remains.  The rules for social distancing are now set at 2m OR 1m with additional precautionary measures (e.g. face masks, being side-by-side etc…).
    You can read the full guidance here.  This guidance sets out the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent with others outside your home is as safe as possible. If you are clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, you should follow the guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people and you can also get support..
  • The Lorkin Daniell Playground will not reopen tomorrow, as it had been hoped, but is expected to reopen next weekend (weather permitting) once installation of new swings has been completed.

Oh, and this update wouldn’t be complete without Terry Wogan!

West Bergholt Open Gardens 2020

The West Bergholt Open Gardens has been a biennial event since 2014 and raised thousands of pounds for local charities. This year it had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the plan is it will return next year. We would like to share a few photos of the gardens that were due to open on 28th June, and hope you find them uplifting and will encourage you to join us, hopefully, next year.

Open Gardens Collage 1

Open Gardens Collage 2

Open Gardens Collage 3

Open Gardens Collage 4


Carole Easey & Giant EchiumGiant Echium

Not the first time we’ve reported on one of these during Lockdown, but John Easey (we’ve seen his NHS-inspired Radish plants previously), has been growing a massive example as reported recently in the Gazette:

TOWERING high into the West Bergholt skyline, this is the sight of what could be the UK’s tallest flower.

The hulking Echium, grown by keen gardener John Easey, 76, often draws envious stares and admiring glances from passing neighbours at their plot at the village allotments in New Church Road.  It was planted with a tiny, “barely visible” seed, but over the course of a year has rocketed skywards.

Several gardeners across the country have come forward over recent years to proclaim their Echium the tallest in the land.  But at almost 16 and a half feet, the average height of an adult giraffe, Mr Easey’s whopper towers at least two ft higher than most of its kind.  Another 16ft Echium, grown by Barbara Thatcher in 2017, was previously proclaimed the tallest garden plant in the country.  On beating this envied record, Mr Easey’s wife, Carole, 75, said:

Well I can’t imagine there’s many bigger – I don’t know how it doesn’t break.  He had to pull a lot of the bottom leaves off because the leaves get big and go all over the path, they also get quite prickly.  Yes, he’s extremely proud, there’s already another one coming through for next year.

Mr and Mrs Easey approached the Gazette after spotting a recent story on a 14ft Echium.  Mr Easey quickly scrambled to measure his specimen to see how it matched up to this effort.  The garden flower, which is known as the Blue Steeple Tower of Jewels, is native to the Canary Islands and is an endangered species.  Mrs Easey said:

He got hold of two eight foot sticks, which he taped together and then he got them right up to the top.  He measured the little bottom bit too, and it is exactly 5 metres tall.

She added:

When the village held an open gardens event, they do open allotments as well, we had a notice up saying people could walk down and have a look at it and everyone loved it.  Originally it’s from a seed which you can hardly see – how you get something like that from a seed I don’t know.  Our friend was given one from her brother’s allotment, and he said ‘That can grow up to about 10ft.’  John said ‘No, they’ll grow more than that – you want to come to the allotment and look at ours.’  She said ‘Christ, I don’t want that in my garden!’”

The couple have long kept a plot at the allotment, which has served as a lifeline to many during the months of lockdown.  The couple grow and harvest everything from spring onions and runner beans to cabbages and potatoes.  Mr Easey even grew out radishes to spell out ‘NHS’ in honour of the country’s healthcare workers.  West Bergholt parish councillor Norma Smith said:

It’s the centre of the village and when the lockdown was put in place we kept it open, with very strict rules.  When I was here I looked around and for people, especially the elderly gents, it was hugely beneficial to their mental health – it was really important.

Mrs Easey, who has owned a garden landscaping company with her husband for 35 years, said:

John was up here every day during lockdown.  When I said  ‘You’re going back to work’ he said ‘Have I got to, I’m quite getting used to this.’  It must’ve been awful for people living in flats.”

Amused, she glances at the Echium and adds:

I think John wants a row of them next year.  When you see it in the wind you wonder how it even stays up.  He’s put a lot of care into these plots, he’ll be here most weekends and evenings.”


Terry Wogan & Floral Dance with Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band


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