Country Diary of an Edwardian Garden

Edwardian Gardens

Mount Ephraim Gardens is a beautiful place to visit, with plenty to offer and delight visitors. Unwind in these ten acres of gardens, set in the heart of an 800 acre estate with magnificent views over the Swale and Thames Estuaries. Whether you choose to enjoy the tranquility of the Japanese gardens, take on the challenge of the wildflower and grass maze or just relax on the Edwardian tea room terrace, Mount Ephraim gardens have the power to charm you all.

Mount Ephraim Gardens are home to an extensive collection of spring bulbs, trees and shrubs including Rhododendrons, many types of Camelias and Magnolias. Visitors can experience the sight of the Millennium Rose Garden in full bloom and the intoxicating colours and scents in mid summer. The unique 'Miz Maze' creation, planted with ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennials is something to look forward to as the days get shorter with its dancing grasses and dramatic swirls of wild flowers, which are alive with pollinating insects and wildlife best seen as the summer draws to a close.

Mount Ephraim has been home to the Dawes Family for over 300 years and is a lasting monument to a more graceful and leisurely age. Every time of year at Mount Ephraim Gardens brings it own distinctive pleasures. Enjoy simple pleasures in life at Mount Ephraim Gardens with a wonderful atmosphere of peace and charm that have offered visitors a tranquil escape for many years.

The gardens were laid out in the early 1900s, but after wartime neglect were substantially restored by Mary and Bill Dawes from the early 1950s. Mary Dawes was involved in the day-to-day running of the gardens until she sadly passed away in 2009, at the grand age of 93. Mount Ephraim has never been a 'professionally' maintained garden, but Mary had always lovingly tended it. Although comparatively small, Mount Ephraim has a personal charm so often lost in larger gardens.

Today, the gardens continue to be cared for by two full time gardeners and some occasional part time and volunteer help under the instruction of Lesley Dawes, who has taken over the overall management of the gardens from her Mother-in-Law.  Although not a trained gardener or horticulturalist, Lesley has lived at Mount Ephraim for 25 years and has a great love for the gardens and the willingness and energy to take forward the legacy that Mary has left behind.

Edwardian Gardens at Mount Ephraim
Edwardian Gardens at Mount Ephraim
Edwardian Gardens at Mount Ephraim

The Mizmaze

Planted in 2004 on the slopes of a former vineyard, the idea bore fruit after initial research into different types of mazes revealed an ancient labyrinth called a Mizmaze - a touching coincidence given that Mary Dawes, who lived at Mount Ephraim for sixty years, was always known to family and friends as 'Miz'.

Medieval Mizmazes were nine circuit labyrinths of raised turf paths and thought to have been used by monks for exercise and meditation. The interpretation at Mount Ephraim has been to flank the turf paths not with bare earth but with ornamental grasses and herbaceous perennials, which creates a delightful meadow effect blending into the pastoral landscape beyond.

TOPIARY GARDEN AND HERBACEOUS BORDERS

Elaborate and intriguing topiary cut into a miscellany of birds, animals and First World War memorabilia in clipped yew truly captures the imagination. The long herbaceous border with its sheltering brick wall provides colour throughout the season. 

JAPANESE STYLE ROCK GARDEN AND WATER GARDEN

The rock garden is based on a series of pools ornamented with a Japanese stone bridge and lanterns. Together with the water garden it is a place of tranquility and renewal.

MILLENNIUM ROSE GARDEN

A glorious extension to the topiary garden, the Millennium Rose Garden feature a vast profusion of roses enhanced by an arbour and arches of wrought iron. The intoxicating colours and scents are best experienced in midsummer.

ARBORETUM

The arboretum was planted to commemorate the late Mary Dawes' 80th birthday and also 300 years of the family's ownership of Mount Ephraim. Sited on an artificially raised mound, the are gives an excellent view of Blean woods, Hernhill church and the Miz Maze.