On Sunday 13th of April (12 noon – 4.30 pm), Winton House near Pencaitland in East Lothian throws its doors open for its annual Family Spring Open Day, with funds being raised for The Bethany Trust, which helps turn around the lives of 5,000 homeless people in Scotland every year, and Scotland’s Gardens which raises funds for Scottish charities like Maggie’s.
Winton House is a castle and family home, now used as an exclusive use hospitality and wedding venue, set in beautiful East Lothian countryside outside Edinburgh.
James Maynard, Winton’s General Manager, tells us what is planned for the day:
“We’re having stalls with locally made arts, crafts, clothing, and, of course, some plants. There will be lots of entertainment for families and children: face painting, a bouncy castle, obstacle courses, the Haddington Pipe Band and a few surprises!
“Kim Osborne, the local author of children’s books for 4 to 10 year olds, will be signing and possibly reading her books, ‘furry tales for little people’: ‘A Sticky Moment in the Treacle Mine’; ‘Algy in the Dragon’s Den’; and ‘Ghoulies and Ghosties – The Halloween Party’. She’s currently working on her next book.”
The author adds: “From an early age, I loved the magical world of books. When my children were young I read to them at night, and often found myself making up entertaining tales, encouraging their growing minds to become active and imaginative. Today’s children are forced to grow up far too soon – stories should inspire and stimulate their creative instincts. Come back childhood innocence and fun.”
James Maynard continues: “Café Winton will be in our rejuvenated ‘potting shed’ with its terrace in the walled garden, providing delicious homemade sandwiches and cakes. The Lucas ice cream van will also be featuring.
“Historically minded visitors can go on guided house tours to see the Scottish Renaissance ceilings and master pieces, and hear about the house’s links to the Seton family, Henry VIII, Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Elgin Marbles.
“We’ll also be running a photography competition on the day with some great prizes. Visitors should send in their best Winton Open Day photos to firstname.lastname@example.org”
Picnics can be set up in the grounds, and visitors can enjoy walking through the walled and terraced gardens, now in the seventh year of a major replanting plan. Most of the plants at Winton are raised from seeds and cuttings in the poly tunnel and glasshouse, which is also a source of cut flowers for clients’ events in the House.
Head Gardener, Toby Subiotto, adds:
“Visitors will be able to see Winton’s famous wild daffodils which are already in full bloom. Early flowering cherries, shrubs, hellebores and cyclamen should also be out.
“We’re well into our 7 year garden plan and most areas are now nearing completion. This year should see the final stages of planting although some plants are still young. The terraced gardens have been planted with wall shrubs, climbers, and tender and semi hardy sub-shrubs which have survived the mild winter well, and will put on a good show this summer.
“In the walled garden Salvias, sunflowers and squashes will provide interest later in summer, while some colourful bedding schemes are also on the cards.
“The Dell woodland area has now undergone a final thinning allowing more light in, opening up further planting opportunities and uninterrupted vistas. Last year one end was planted to provide interest in the autumn, whilst the lower end was cleared of an invasive cover of Rhododendron and stocked with Camellias and other shrubs for early spring colour.”
Nearer the house, the walk between the car park and the house has also been thinned for a long planned ‘winter garden’. This will shortly be planted with cherries, witch hazels, daphnes, winter sweet and other interesting shrubs to add colour in dark winter days.
Entry to the gardens and estate is £4 per adult and children are free. Guided house tours are £3 (concessions) to £5 per person.
Bethany Christian Trust is an Edinburgh-based, award-winning Scottish charity whose aim is to relieve the suffering and meet the long-term needs of homeless and vulnerable people.
The charity now provides support to over 5,000 people across Scotland every year to help them turn their lives around. Bethany’s services support people to overcome addictions, tackle social and educational barriers, equip and maintain a home and move on to a brighter future. These services include drop-in centres, addiction support, housing advice, emergency accommodation, supported housing and education and community reintegration projects. These services are available to all, irrespective of background or belief.