Wyken Hall Gardens

 

As my followers will already know, I have a very good friend & neighbour who inspires me to visit new gardens each year. Lisa is rather like my researcher, finding delightful places to visit and photograph – often well away from the ‘madding crowd’.  Wyken Hall, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, is just that sort of place – an Elizabethan manor house surrounded by woods, fields and quiet lanes …

The estate is situated on land that has been occupied since Roman times and today is home to the Leaping Hare Vineyard, restaurant and country store – yet everything is tastefully low-key, resulting in a distinct atmosphere of ‘country life’ at its most peaceful. The house and garden are privately owned by the Carlisle family – Kenneth Carlisle being a descendant of the Mclarens of Bodnant Gardens in Wales. It is Kenneth and his wife Carla who have created the beautiful gardens here at Wyken Hall.

The Manor House is in itself an impressive sight, with its glorious chimneys, gables and woodwork bleached to a pale ashen. It originates from the 16th Century, appearing deceptively compact from the entrance – with its full extent only apparent from the rear.  Further wings were added in the following century, with a major face-lift in the 1920’s. A fascinating aspect for me was the copper red lime wash covering the exterior walls. Apparently, this is the original version of the ‘Suffolk Pink’ we know today – or at least how it was in Elizabethan times. Hardly pink at all !

 

The front of the house pays homage to Carla’s homeland – she was born in Mississippi;  and the blue rocking chairs amongst the espaliers of apples serve to create an english version of a southern state verandah.

My initial impression of the garden here was that it was wonderfully understated. The strong structural elements of flint walls, pergolas, hedging, fountains and paving did all the major work, leaving the planting to be romantic & relaxed, simple & pleasingly natural. The rose garden was beautifully fragrant and there was no hint of trying to fill the available space with variety after variety. Just a few choice plants grouped together to form a pleasing colour range – from delicate pinks to vibrant magenta. My favourite close-up shots of the day were those deep pink roses and the delicate lilac Wisteria flowers.

The main things I loved about the garden were the vistas – from one ‘garden room’ to the next – made possible by the classic structural elements. I really enjoy the lure of ‘the view beyond’ – it somehow conjures up a magical journey through the gardens; eliciting excitement and promising wonder …

Fruit played a prominent role with old apple trees, ripening pears and grapes – the latter being most apt for a house with its own vineyard. I especially enjoyed seeing the chickens roaming free in the orchard area – one of my personal dreams …

The Hot Border was also of great interest to me, as I have my own version in my front garden at Marlborough House. Vibrant, without being showy – Heleniums, Helianthus, Coreopsis and Achilleas blended together with scarlet Dahlias, Trumpet and stunning Mina Lobata Vines. Very inspiring …

The views and details continued to arrest my attention – yet the resulting effect was one of calm.

I have saved my favourite view and image of the day until last. The twin gates enclosing the lime tree avenue planted to commemorate Kenneth Carlisle’s father presented themselves to me as one of those perfect vistas – one I knew instantly would not be surpassed by any other from my visit.

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