On Saturday afternoon, Katie and I were given leave to escape the shop for the afternoon and escape we did. It was a freezing cold afternoon, the kind that Oxford specialises in, cold and misty with an orange sun lurking on the horizon. I had seen in the local news that Waterperry Gardens in Wheatley, off the M40 to London, were holding an Open Day and thought this would be a great excuse to have a bit of a jolly and see where our favourite apple juice comes from.
The drive over to Wheatley is lovely and we arrived mid afternoon. Made famous by Beatrix Havergal who established her School of Horticulture for Ladies here from 1932 to 1971, it’s now home to 8 acres of beautifully landscaped ornamental gardens, a garden centre and shop, gallery and gift shop, museum and teashop.
Waterperry describe their juice as “hand-pressed on a traditional cider press on our estate and its wonderful taste reflects the care and pride we take in producing our apple juice.” We have sold their juice for the last 10 years in our shop, delighted by its delicious taste and that it is grown and bottled locally. My favourite variety is Suntan, it seems to be sweet and sharp without being cloying and I often recommend the Lord Lambourne apples as they have the best crunch.
They also offer seasonal fruit grown in their own orchards and honey from their own bees. They encourage you to join them for Apple Weekend to welcome the season and celebrate all that is great about the apple! You can sign up for a mailing list and they will presumably update you with what is coming into season and for the other great events they hold throughout the year.
I had only ever been there to pick up orders for the shop and hadn’t seen the garden or the shops and so this seemed like the best opportunity to see what else they had to offer. The gift shop is small but lovely. Full of great little presents and the gallery was wonderful. I’ve already picked my next birthday present from there and came away with a handful of ceramic buttons to adorn a new cushion with. There’s a great shop full of gardening bits and pieces and would make for great presents for green fingered friends. I bought my mother, who’s currently obsessed with marmalade, a book about preserving and some liquorice to keep her going!
We had a brief walk, on account of it getting dark and being freezing cold, around the gardens as they were free to visitors on the Open Day and although it was still very wintry, you could see that in the summer months they would be beautiful and well worth a visit.
We didn’t make it as far as the teashop but I imagine that would be a perfect end to a walk around the grounds. The menu looked delicious and they open for breakfast on a Saturday and Sunday which would be a lovely way to start the weekend.
There’s also an ampitheatre in the grounds which stages plays in the warmer months and you are encouraged to take a picnic which seems like a lovely idea. I also have my eye out for the herb garden talk by Jekka McVicar, who is the herb lady who advises Jamie Oliver, in August. In fact, the whole place seems to be taking up my calendar!
Waterperry Gardens, Nr. Wheatley, Oxfordshire, England. OX33 1JZ. 01844 339254