I think I first heard about Emmaus House in Bristol through my local church, as it’s a centre for religious retreats and other courses with a spiritual theme as well as hiring out meeting rooms and serving delicious lunches in the week at their restaurant. Despite being situated in the heart of Clifton Village in a beautiful Georgian building with amazing views over Bristol, Emmaus House in not that well known even by those living locally.
I heard that their gardens were open this weekend, so we went to have a look and were well rewarded as the sun shone and the garden was blooming. We sat first on the Rose terrace at the back of the house and bumped into a couple of friends who were having lunch, so we felt it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to try some ourselves, as many of the ingredients come from the organic kitchen garden. I tried the salmon and fennel en croute and my husband had aubergine baked with tomatoes and cheese, both with fresh salads and new potatoes from the garden.
Then we took a tour of the garden, which is divided into many separate areas on different levels. There was so much to admire that I went a bit wild with the camera – you can see all my photos here on flickr. There’s the herb garden with a small fountain playing and lavender bushes – I love to rub the flowers in my hand to get the fragrance.
Then there was the Japanese inspired Zen garden with pebbles and running water and the gentle sound of the wind chimes.
Below is a ‘secret’ garden which you can only reach through the two others with quiet shady corners and a small summer house where you could hide away with a good book
Then the courtyard garden with a swing seat and small lily pond fed by the old watercourse that once supplied the house.
But the kitchen garden was the most wonderful thing, with the golden raspberries just coming into fruit, elegant box hedges adding a formal touch and the greenhouse with grapes hanging from the roof.
Emmaus House is open under the National Gardens Scheme where private gardens open several times a year in aid of charity. You can also have lunch there in the week if you ring and reserve in advance, and they also offer Bed and Breakfast if you’re looking for a special and tranquil place to stay in Bristol.
Emmaus House, Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN Tel +44 (0)117 9079950
e-mail: [email protected]