On Sunday 15th of April (12 noon – 4.30pm), Winton House near Pencaitland throws its doors open for its annual Family Spring Open Day, with funds being raised for Maggie’s Centres, the Scottish cancer care charity, and Scotland’s Gardens.

Lamb in daffodils in front of Winton House
A lamb in Winton's daffodils. Photo Tony Marsh

The Events Manager, Kerry McCabe, tells us what is planned for the Winton Open Day:

“For the first time we’re having a ‘Friends, family and farmers market’ with stalls for locally made arts, crafts, clothing, and, of course, plants. Visitors will be able to buy personalised children’s clothing, patchwork quilts, jewellery, etched glass and handmade cards.

“The mild weather means that the daffodils, crocuses and spring flowers will be out in force. There will be lots of entertainment for families: dog and duck herding; bouncy castles with slides; fancy ‘glitter’ face painting by Shirley Hamilton; and delicious homemade soup, sandwiches and cakes at Café Winton.

“Visitors will be able to go on guided historical tours of Winton House with its fine Scottish Renaissance ceilings, master pieces on the walls, and links to Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Elgin Marbles.”

Entry to the garden and estate is £4 per adult and children are free. Guided House tours are £5 per person and £3 for concessions.

The arts, crafts and clothing displays will include Tigerlily Kids from Pencaitland who make personalised kids clothing, blankets, comforters, bags and T-shirts, decorated with elephants, names, trains or birds. Magghi Mclean’s Puffin Patchworks from Musselburgh will also be on display. She designs and hand stitches made-to-order patchwork quilts. Haddington-based Bands and Beads will be displaying their handbags and jewellery.  Lydia MacDonald will be showing off her hand crafted glass etchings of insects, animals and skylines. Carol Brackenridge from Musselburgh will be displaying her handmade cards and bunting.

Keen gardeners will be able to stock up on plants from Macplants, based in nearby Boggs Holdings. Macplants are one of central Scotland’s largest growers of herbaceous perennials, alpines, ferns and ornamental grasses, and grow on site their highly praised autumn gentians and meconopsis cultivars.

Picnics are welcome and visitors will enjoy walking through the walled and terraced gardens, which are five years into a major six year replanting plan. Most of the plants here are raised from seed and cuttings in the poly tunnel and glasshouse. Planting also generates cut flowers for functions in the House.

Head Gardener, Toby Subiotto, gives an update on the garden’s redevelopment:

“Both of the walled garden borders have been planted with a mix of herbaceous plants for impact and height, with shrubs following on from early spring bulbs. The walls have been planted with old fashioned roses, Jasmines, honeysuckles and tender wall shrubs. Salvias, sunflowers and squashes will provide interest later in summer.

“In the terraced garden, the middle terrace has recently been planted with old fashioned shrub roses, and, in time, will be complemented by plantings of campanulas, pinks, sweet williams and lavender. A dahlia border will be on display and providing interest in late summer up until November.

“An Iris and peony border is planned and starting to take shape along the edges in the lower terrace. The planting in shade at the far end has a more ‘woodland’ feel to blend into the area beyond the gate.

“As a result of a recent thinning of the Dell near the House, this woodland area has been opened up. The areas at each end will be planted with shrubs, with complementary planting along the edges. Fine ornamental tree collections of Japanese maples, flowering dogwoods, magnolia and witch hazels are being built up, many grown from small pots. Himalayan rowans, parrottia, nyssa, and euonymus will provide further autumn colour and interest, creating a middle canopy height in time.”