After a successful visit to Lavenham’s Hidden Gardens last summer, I decided that it would be good fun to spend a day in Bury St Edmunds – to explore the hidden gardens of its historic town centre.
The event first started in 1987 and has been raising money for the local St Nicholas Hospice ever since.
It was a very hot and humid day with a mixture of sun and cloud – combined with a reasonable amount of walking around to see all the gardens. I managed to visit two-thirds of the gardens on show – and the following galleries highlight either favourite gardens or favourite plants that I discovered along the way …
Garden 1 – Chantry House.
This was actually the last garden that I visited and was right in the heart of the old town. Luckily by late afternoon it was cool, peaceful with few remaining visitors.
Garden 4 – 59 Southgate Street.
There was a long walk in the hot sun to get to this out-lying garden. The advantage was that it was much quieter than the central ones and there was some welcome cooling shade. It was very attractive with lots of cottage garden plants – including aconitums and geraniums.
Garden 5 – 6 Southgate Green.
This garden particularly appealed to me because of its mix of wild flowers with the more traditional garden species. It had beautiful herbaceous borders with wonderful colour combinations and areas of wild grasses with ox-eye daisies. There were lots of happy bees and other insects busily feeding – and many people ( including me !) feasting on Gabrielle’s wonderful home-made cakes …
Garden 6 – 32 Maynewater Lane.
A beautiful clematis with huge purple flowers caught my eye in this garden …
Garden 11 – 6 College Lane.
This garden had once been the exercise yards of the old workhouse and had the feel of a serene and peaceful cloister. There was plenty of room for sunny and shaded areas – and I was delighted to see numerous thriving Astrantias – one of my most favourite plants.
Garden 12 – The Guildhall Feoffment Trust, College Square.
This garden was a real revelation to me, as I was expecting it to adhere to a certain formula – of bedding plants and conventional planting. I was pleasantly surprised at how imaginative the choice of plants was – and this ended up being one of my top gardens of the day …
There were wonderful beds of scented roses in blocks of colour for maximum impact, beautiful aquilegias with long graceful spurs, dahlias and Honey Garlic ( Nectaroscordum siculum) Anyone growing the latter two plants is always going to get ‘brownie points’ from me ! I imagine the residents really love and appreciate such a beautiful garden …
Garden 13 – Greyfriars
This was another beautiful walled garden with more interesting plantings – such as a majestic goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus) and the most impressive and beautiful peony that I had ever seen.
Garden 18 – Turret Close
My final gallery today is from this massive garden filled with many different sections and types of plant. It was beautifully designed and cared for – and understandably appeared to be attracting ‘Top Garden of the Day’ votes from many of my fellow visitors. I prefer the more humble and understated – and this was reflected in the plants that I chose to capture from this garden …
I had a thoroughly enjoyable, albeit tiring day, exploring the gardens normally hidden from public view. The garden owners and visitors were all extremely friendly and there was a lovely atmosphere around the town.
I was glad though to have worked out a route that kept me away from the crowds that were swarming like bees around this beautiful collection of gardens, as I prefer to do my photography in a more peaceful setting, where I can truly capture the essence and atmosphere of the garden -without getting in anyone’s way.
My special awards for the day have been chosen with that atmosphere in mind – and are as follows :-
Runner up – Garden 4 Peaceful and cottagey.
Bronze Medal – Garden 12 Imaginative, perfumed and restful.
Silver Medal – Garden 11 Serene and secluded.
Gold Medal – Garden 5 Full of colour and wildlife with a wonderful feel of the countryside within the town.
A truly wonderful day in Bury St Edmunds – where the Hidden Gardens revealed Hidden Treasures …