Step into a world of apple enchantment this autumn at the idyllic Houghton Lodge Gardens, Test Valley, Hampshire. On Sunday, 24th September, a green carpet will be rolled out for an Apple Day celebration and the last of the 230th-anniversary events commemorating the history of the historic house.
Meet the apple whisperers and join the renowned horticulturist Mr. Chris Bird, M.Hort (RHS) of Sparsholt College, along with his team of green-thumbed experts, who will be on hand to get to the very core of all things apple. Ask and learn about the art of apple tree growing, cultivation and pruning and get to taste an extensive variety of heirloom apples (and pears!). Bring along any apples from your garden for Chris and his team to identify.
Prepare to be spellbound as Hampshire's own storytelling maestro, Michael O'Leary, weaves captivating folktales that transport you to the mystical lands of Hampshire and Sussex. Don't miss his spine-tingling account of a close encounter with the mythical Apple Tree Man!
Add a dash of vibrant tradition to your Apple Day experience with the Red Stags Morris dancers! Gracing the gardens with their unique flair, this talented troupe will be performing their very own style of Border Morris dancing. With colourful costumes, spirited movements and rhythmic beats, the Red Stags Morris dancers promise to captivate and entertain.
Young detectives can embark on an "Apple Trail" adventure to solve the curious case of the stolen golden apple. Will the alpacas spill the beans, or is there a more mysterious culprit hiding in the lush gardens?
Wander through and discover our sprawling gardens to marvel at over 32 apple tree varieties, including the Champion espaliered pear tree ‘Beurre Diel’ which is the title of the ‘longest espaliered plant’ in the world at 16.44 m (53 ft 11 in). Throughout the day, visitors will be invited to toast the trees in the ancient orchard in an open wassail to ensure a bountiful harvest and connect with the spirit of the apple trees.
For those who prefer to indulge in apple treats, Bloom Bloom tearoom will be serving apple-infused cakes and bakes for a leisurely and delicious break from apple exploration!
Visitors who would like to know more about the history of the house, exclusive House Tours are running throughout the day. It is an opportunity to delve into the rich heritage of the Busk family's 18th-century Cottage Orné. Tickets are £30 per person and are available for booking online or on-site.
Gardens open at 10am, and the apple festivities run from 11am to 4pm. Enjoy FREE ENTRY to The Orangery for expert talks and art exhibitions. Standard garden entry fees apply. Advance booking is recommended.
Admission tickets can be booked online at www.houghtonlodge.co.uk.
Don't miss this apple-tastic day of fun, food and folklore.