Summer weekends are made for exploring rural Lincolnshire. One particularly sunny Sunday we decided to pay our first visit to Walled Garden Baumber, a beautifully cultivated complex on the cusp of the Lincolnshire Wolds. Created by a designer and photographer who have revitalised a crumbling old estate, the gardens incorporate a lake, tea rooms, plant shop and deckchair areas, all interwoven with sculpted greenery, and open to the public with free entry. It’s dog friendly, which meant we could bring Regan with us! Here’s our quick review of Walled Garden Baumber and what you can expect on a day out.
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What is Walled Garden Baumber?
The timing was perfect: we were all set for a weekend away in the Lincolnshire countryside, and so we were on the lookout for new things to see and do. An advert came on the radio for a place called Walled Garden Baumber, which happens to be located perfectly on the route between our home in Lincoln and The Stables in Firsby, where we were going to stay.
I’m not sure how we hadn’t heard of Walled Garden Baumber before, or how we hadn’t noticed it before when driving along the A158. But it sounded like exactly the kind of place we’d love to spend a sunny Sunday mid-morning.
So, what exactly is Walled Garden Baumber? It is a breathtakingly imaginative double-walled gardens enclosed within a four-acre space, incorporating a variety of features among a colourful array of plants and flowers. It’s hard to believe that just two decades ago, the grounds were little more than a building site.
The gardens have been created by a local couple called Sonia and David Elton. When they acquired the site in 2006, it was completely abandoned and falling into dilapidation. This was a far cry from its 19th century heyday, when it was a kitchen garden for Stourton Hall, a stately home that was demolished in 1955.
Bringing the gardens back to life
The restoration of the garden space was a private project at first for Sonia and David, who are a photographer and a designer by profession.
Basing themselves in the old head gardener’s cottage, which was the first focus of the renovation, they set about rebuilding and designing the gardens from the ground up.
They created new features and found creative uses for old ones. The old potting shed was transformed into tea rooms, and an artificial lake and tropical house were brought into the mix; all of this punctuated by immaculate flowerbeds, plants, bushes and grasses.
Opening the gardens to the public
In 2016, the Eltons decided to tentatively open the space to the public to see if it would attract any interest. Sure enough, the response was overwhelming, and they expanded the opening schedule to six days a week.
The opening times at Walled Garden Baumber are now 10am–4pm, Sunday to Thursday.
The garden keeps growing and remains a work in progress. It’s now a venue for weddings and events, and new buildings have spring up, like the bright pink “Snack Shack” with upcycled seating by the lake.
Walled Garden Baumber is free to enter!
You would expect most attractions like Walled Garden Baumber to demand an entry fee. But the Eltons have kept the space free to the public, supported by takings from the tea rooms and plant shop.
Dogs are welcome within the grounds as long as well, as long they are kept on leads.
What’s inside Walled Garden Baumber?
The temperature gauge was hitting 30 degrees celsius when we parked up at Walled Garden Baumber at 11am on a Sunday. It is, in fact, a double walled garden, and the free parking area is enclosed between the outer walls.
Stepping inside is like entering an enchanted oasis, with copious flower beds and huge leafy plants flanking the pathway around the lake. The variety of plantlife around the grounds is remarkable; everywhere you look there’s a different shape or colour to marvel at. It’s obvious that a huge amount of time and care goes into tending the place.
The gardens almost seem tailor-made to explore slowly in the heat. We loved how the direct sunlight accentuated the bright colours of the flowers and the contrasting green hues of the plants, with the dense tree canopies providing natural shade for the seating outside the café.
Relax at the tea rooms
The Potting Shed Tearooms inside the gardens serves breakfast until 11:30am and lunch thereafter. Everything is freshly made, mostly from local ingredients, and the choice is extensive. Salads, sandwiches, paninis, and various classic Lincolnshire delicacies. You know you’re in Lincolnshire when you see haslet on the menu!
It’s all very reasonably priced, too – everything on the lunch menu is below £10. We order some toasted Lincolnshire plum bread with cheese and freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam.
Simple, delicious, local tea room classics that are perfect for enjoying in the sunshine with a cuppa.
Explore the plant varieties (and buy one to take home!)
The plant stall at Walled Garden Baumber is one of the biggest draws for us, as we’re always looking to expand our home jungle. It’s stocked with a mesmerising variety of plants and flowers from near and far, including some exotic varieties we’d never seen before.
After looking meticulously through the lilies and succulents, we eventually picked out a “hosta guacamole” lily to take pride of place in our garden.
Eat by the lake at the Snack Shack
The bright pink and yellow “Snack Shack” was the first building we saw when we entered the grounds. Tucked away in a corner by the lake, you can buy ice creams or snacks here and take a seat at one of the rustic wooden tables (made from reclaimed materials) under the gaze of a giant Egyptian statue.
A new wedding venue inside the gardens, called Montagues, features a bar that’s usually open to the public. You can get a cool refreshing Pimms here to take outside.
Live music in the gardens
As our visit happened to be on a Sunday, it meant we were treated to some live music. A local saxophonist performed in the gazebo in the middle of the grounds.
There’s a rolling schedule of live local acts on Sundays, providing a gentle backing track if you sit outside at the tea rooms or on the lawn deck chairs.
Take a tour of the gardens
For more detailed insights into the history of the gardens, you can take a tour of the grounds with the owners. There isn’t a set schedule published, but if you give them a call on 01507 578763 you can find out when the next tours will be available.
Where to stay near Walled Garden Baumber
Our visit to Walled Garden Baumber was on our way back to Lincoln after a weekend in the Lincolnshire countryside. We stayed at a fabulous self-catered cottage called The Stables near the village of Firsby.
The Stables is set within the grounds of campsite with beautifully cultivated grounds, including an artificial lake. The whole place was very quiet, despite the fact our visit was on a sunny weekend in June, and so it felt like a tranquil wellness retreat.
Check out our full review of The Stables for all the finer details about this lovely converted cottage and the campsite grounds.
If you want to stay somewhere closer to the walled gardens and make a weekend trip of it, there are some lovely options around nearby Horncastle, on the threshold of the Lincolnshire Wolds. These are three we picked out:
- Magpies – a great restaurant with rooms in Horncastle, where you can be sure of an amazing breakfast!
- Grooms Cottage – a friendly and welcoming B&B between Baumber and Horncastle just off the A158
- Laurel Lodge – a B&B in a converted home on the outskirts of Horncastle
If you do make a weekend of it, you could try this scenic circular walk and pub lunch in Belchford that’s just ten minutes drive away from the gardens.
How to get to Walled Garden Baumber
Walled Garden Baumber is located along the A158, mid-way between Wragby and Horncastle. It’s easy to reach by car, only half an hour’s drive from Lincoln – just look out for the big sign as you drive past.
Parking at the gardens is free.
Have you visited Walled Garden Baumber before? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.