A Wildflower Meadow For Boxted

I’ve always loved the idea of a wild meadow or lawn, filled with my favourite flowers from Nature and showcasing beautiful, naturalised bulbs in Springtime.

I created my own modest version in my front garden 2 years ago by planting a host of Narcissus bulbs suited to naturalising in the lawn – and have really enjoyed the difference that it makes to the enjoyment of my garden.

When the opportunity arose to join the Boxted Village Biodiversity Group, I decided to become a member in order to get involved with the planning and care of the new Village Green – which was created when the new housing development was built close to my home.

A village green is something that’s always been missing from Boxted – and the idea of creating a beautiful area for residents and visitors to enjoy – as well as encouraging wildlife back to the village – was too hard to resist !

Together with fellow Biodiversity members/gardening buddies Karen & Lisa, I started thinking of a plan that could be implemented quickly in order to provide flowers for Spring 2022 – and change a rather forlorn area of patchy grass with encroaching brambles into something special for all to enjoy.

Proposed Wildflower Meadow Zones

We firstly surveyed the village green area, referring to the above plan that Jon (our Biodiversity Group Coordinator) had drawn up from the original housing development plan – and then set about considering which varieties of Bulbs and Wildflowers would work well in the different areas.

As part of our research, we also spent a rather damp but enjoyable morning visiting the Wildflower Meadow area at East Bergholt Place – the beautiful garden which is home to the Place for Plants Garden Centre. Lisa and I have visited many times because of our interest in gardening – and I have hundreds of photographs of the special plants that grow there.

The most wonderful array of springtime flowers adorn the meadow area during March & April – with naturalised Snowdrops, Narcissi, Wood Anemone and Crocus – closely followed by one of my all-time favourites, the Snakeshead Fritillary – Fritillaria meleagris. The meadow features both purple and white forms.

Fritillary, Anemone and Primroses – all perfect candidates for Boxted Village Green.

This romantic, chequered bloom grows wild in damp meadows, although there are only a few strongholds left in the UK. One such location is the Fox fritillary meadow in Framsden, Suffolk – where I first saw this amazing flower. It grows beautifully in the damp conditions at East Bergholt Place, as well as succeeding incredibly well in my own garden border – the latter being neither damp, nor meadow-like. As it has been noted that parts of the village green area have been quite damp (plus the success I have had with it spreading and thriving in my own garden just a few hundred yards away), we think that the Snakeshead Fritillary would be a worthy plant for the wildflower areas on the new green.

Here are some more views of Spring bulbs naturalised in the Wildflower Meadow, which have further inspired us for the planting at Boxted -:

The Boxted verge areas, the periphery of the green and the sections where there are new and existing trees/hedgerows would seem to be a perfect place for the naturalised Narcissi, along with woodland species, such as Cyclamen, Anemone, Snowdrops, Snowflakes, Bluebells and Muscari. A fine example of how this would work perfectly can be seen only a short distance away in Mr Reese’s garden at Hill House Farm.

Although the Wildflower area at East Bergholt Place is at its best in Spring and Summer – we thought that a visit in late October would show us how our own ‘Boxted’ version would shape up in the quieter, less glamorous months … We were pleased to see, despite the rain, that the area looked very natural and neat – much tidier than our fledgling Village Green back home in Boxted.

Autumn View of Wildflower meadow, showing mown pathway.

Sarah Eley, the garden owner, advised me that the wildflower area is only mowed once a year and suggested that we left ours as late as we possibly could, weighing up the benefits of that for self-seeding versus the need to have an aesthetically pleasing area of grass. It is important to remove any grass cuttings to keep the area free from anything which would serve to nourish the grass. The latter tallies with expert opinions at out meeting. The Biodiversity Group have already agreed on having regularly mown paths around the wildflower areas – both to enable people to walk and enjoy the Village Green, as well as delineate the borders of the wildflower zones. This is also the situation at East Bergholt Place, which has a mown path through and around the planting zones (see above).

Sarah also stressed the need for Yellow Rattle – Rhinanthus minor – to be sown through our proposed wildflower areas. This serves to control the dominance of the lawn/meadow grasses by living a semi-parasitic life, feeding on the nutrients in the grass roots. It enables the more delicate wildflower species to establish themselves within the planting scheme. It also adds to the summer flowering by producing yellow, tubular flowers from May to September. Following a quick search, I’ve found that getting Rattle seeds sown by the end of November will get our project off to the best start – as the seeds benefit from about 4 months of temperatures below 5 degrees C in order to germinate successfully in Spring.

Yellow Rattle

The above photograph is courtesy of the Independent’s gardening correspondent Anna Pavord, whose success with Yellow Rattle meant that Orchids were able to flourish in her wildflower meadow.

We had all discussed the pros and cons of a Wildflower Lawns versus Wildflower beds at our first Biodiversity meeting. Following our visit to East Bergholt, we believe that flowers naturalised within grass would create a more pleasing effect – as well as fitting with our theme of bringing the countryside into the heart of the village.

I captured the following image at Helmingham Hall Walled Garden during the winter months. This shows an area of wildflower planting in a very striking design. It is only one small part of the garden’s make-up and the fact that it is bare for a large part of the year is not detrimental to the overall garden design. I feel that this would not work for Boxted’s village green, as I believe that bare earth would look very boring for most of the year and would require lots of weeding maintenance to keep it from appearing untidy. Grassed wildflower areas would therefore seem much more appropriate.

To conclude; my fellow members Karen and Lisa are busy drawing up the lists of potential plants required for initial planting, in order for the group to create a pleasing display for next spring. Enquiries are also underway to find out more about funding for these plants – and to hurry along the weed killing required to remove the brambles and other persistent weeds from the green area.

We hope to be doing some serious bulb planting very soon !!

A Suffolk Cottage Garden

Last week I was privileged to be able to visit The National Collection of Sir Michael Foster’s Irises – planted and cared for by his Gt Gt Granddaughter Lucy Skellorn in her inspiring Suffolk garden.

As well as photographing the Foster Irises ( please see my previous blogpost), I was drawn to the romantic beauty of Lucy’s cottage-garden planting.

 I envy people who can create a mass of intertwining plants that form such a beautiful, cohesive flow of texture and colour like this.  I know it has to do with having enough of each plant type to form a drift – not using too many different species and introducing plants for foliage interest ( grasses, Stachys and Cardoons in Lucy’s case) amongst the patches of colour in order to accentuate the effect of both foliage & flower. The creation of different heights and textures is vital, along with – in the best examples- a coherent colour palette. This one was perfect for my taste – purples, soft blues, dusky pinks and whites, nothing jarring or out of place.  It all looked relaxed and natural, although I’m sure was the result of tasteful and careful initial planning – and then the patience to wait for your plan to develop over a few years.

The final ingredient, perhaps, is that added touch of magic that only Nature can bring to a scheme when it sorts out exactly how it wants things to appear. What plants will struggle and fade away – or thrive, spread and mingle together.  

Papaver orientale ‘Patty’s Plum’

Here, in Lucy’s garden, the recipe above, together with the golden light filtering into the garden through the surrounding trees and hedgerows adding its magic, made this a summer’s evening to remember. It was the perfect time to be there enjoying the sights, perfumes and birdsong – and hopefully capturing a spirit of this in my images

A cottage garden is always best with its adjoining cottage – and climbing roses covered the walls of this one, giving a perfect backdrop to the flower beds.

There was Gertrude Jekyll, wonderfully crammed with its ruffles and full of old-fashioned fragrance, next to the paler pink St Swithun.  I was pleased to discover 2 new varieties for me – Buff Beauty and Meg. The latter, with its semi-double flowers, was Lucy’s favourite and I could see why. I don’t think single or semi-double roses are represented enough in the average garden – and people are really missing out without these beautiful flowers. Perhaps it would be a choice for me if I decided to clear away my ever expanding Bay bushes from either side of my porch to grow roses around my door ? So romantic …

There were other roses in the garden, arranged to add height to the planting scheme.

Rosa ‘Mme. Isaac Pereire’

The roses were not the only inspiration from Lucy’s garden. I’m definitely going to be trying the Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ with my new white Foster Irises.

– and also grow some purple and white Hesperis

– and my favourite flower of the whole garden – this dusky poppy. I’m going to see if I can get some seeds from Lucy, although I believe most don’t come true. I shall need to ask her which variety it is.

Here are some more views of Lucy’s beautiful plants …

If I’d been invited to visit Lucy’s garden without her Foster Irises being there, I would still have been spellbound. The natural, romantic feel of this intimate garden offered me such an enjoyable experience and the late evening sunlight cast a magical spell over everything, as each plant took its own special place within the garden’s wonderful tapestry …

Foster Irises – The National Collection

I first met Lucy Skellorn at Helmingham Hall Autumn Plant Heritage Fair in 2019, where I found she was selling historic Irises. I’ve always been interested in finding out more about the origins of our garden flowers, so stopped to chat with her about it.

Lucy Skellorn

 I discovered that Lucy is the Gt Gt Granddaughter of Sir Michael Foster (1836-1907) – a Victorian Professor of Physiology at Cambridge University, who loved to collect and breed bearded Irises as a hobby.

A contemporary and friend of Charles Darwin, he set about collecting Iris species plants from far flung corners of the world as was the Victorian tradition. He was able to breed new varieties by mixing what he chose to be the best species and is now thought of as the Father of the modern Iris hybrids. His ground-breaking plants were stronger with better and bigger flowers – and highly scented. These more successful new plants turned out to have a greater number of chromosomes than the originals, although scientific knowledge was not advanced enough at the time to realise that this was why the plants were more successful. Sir Michael’s progress was based purely upon his observations, note-taking and contemporary scientific skills, as he continued to strive to produce the best hybrids. These plants were later found to be tetraploids ( 4 sets of chromosomes) and this factor, because of his work, meant that later breeders were able to produce an almost never-ending list of colourful varieties – although the scent has diminished considerably from many.

Whilst on the subject of chromosomes; there was obviously a strong enough ‘genetic memory’ for Lucy to switch her career after 10 years to retrain in Horticulture – and through this – and some previous research carried out by her mother, she began to discover just how important her ancestor had been. Her quest to collect her Gt Gt Grandfather’s creations and preserve them for posterity had begun …

When I met up with Lucy again – at the 2021 Spring Plant Heritage Fair – she invited me to visit her Suffolk garden whilst the Irises were in bloom in order to take some photographs.

 Lucy’s cottage is in the middle of nowhere, where just a few houses are dotted along a small country lane in rural Suffolk. Stepping into the garden felt like escaping from the world’s mayhem for a while, especially as the overall style was relaxed, informal, definitely ‘cottage garden’. Lucy apologised that the grass and general appearance was rather unkempt, as she had just been away for a week’s holiday. I actually thought that it was delightful; the lushness adding to my feeling of escape to a simpler time and place – where children explored and played hide and seek amongst the wildflowers and tall grasses, chickens clucked contentedly and a small scruffy-haired black dog darted about the undergrowth keeping watch over his territory. There were no long gardening ‘to-do’ lists, no garden manicuring required – just some dead-heading of spent Iris blooms here and here – heavenly.

It was a wild, romantic garden, separated into sections by informal hedges, culminating in a rented meadow-like area, past the chicken run and overgrown with nettles, cow parsley and wildflowers – within which Lucy has expanded to create a cultivated section for her to grow more of her historic Irises. Lucy had told me not to expect anything grand for the setting of her National Collection – however I loved the fact that these beautiful flowers existed in this informal wild space. The Irises, unperturbed by their surroundings, were all growing happily, their rhizomes baking in the hot, afternoon sun. They had all that they needed.

Juxtaposed with this peace and solitude is an army helicopter base within a few miles of the cottage and I asked Lucy if this bothered the family. She told me that they honestly didn’t notice it too much, as it had been something they had become accustomed to. I had to admit that I found it hardly intruded during my visit and decided it was a small inconvenience when set against the benefits of such a swathe of unspoilt and largely uninhabited Suffolk countryside.

After a tour of the Irises from Lucy and an introduction to the hens by Lucy’s children, I set about exploring the garden on my own. I’d picked one of the sunniest days in June to visit, so photographs were mostly reserved for much later when the sun started to set and a golden glow pervaded the garden. 

There were 5 main varieties of Sir Michael’s hybrids in bloom, plus one notable collected Iris, called Amas (collected 1885), the latter being used extensively in his breeding programme. Some were planted within the cottage garden itself and giving height and structure to the borders. The rest were in special Iris beds, each hybrid having its own section. To keep Bearded Irises at their best, they need the space around them so that their rhizomes are exposed to the sun and not shaded by other plants. In addition, Lucy has kept Irises sourced from different places separately, so she can keep a watch on whether there’s any difference in their growing patterns.

Sir Michael created around 68  hybrids and also had his collection of species plants from which his cultivars were created. Lucy has managed to source about a dozen of these in total – and has 2 exciting newcomers arriving from the US later in the year.  It’s not an easy thing to track down these plants and some have sadly disappeared forever – so her research started with the most obvious ones. I asked if she had Sir Michael’s notebooks detailing his Iris breeding work. They were interestingly bequeathed to his friend and fellow plant breeder, Ellen Wilmott of Warley Place ( which I love and have visited several times) and they are now kept in the Linnean Society’s archives. Lucy has visited but says the notes are difficult to follow and very technical. I wonder if a knowledgeable hybridiser could recreate any lost varieties – if expense was no object and if the species Irises used in the breeding were still obtainable?

For my visit, I was treated to 3 white cultivars :-

Firstly, the striking and tall ‘Kashmir’ (1912); white with its golden-patterned falls –


Next, ‘Mrs Horace Darwin’(1888) and ‘Mrs George Darwin’ (1895) – named after 2 of Charles’ daughter-in-laws. The former is white with purple streaking on its falls and the latter has gold mixed with the purple veining. I have purchased a small group of these two  for my own garden and I’m very excited because they looked beautifully pure and ethereal in Lucy’s – especially the ‘Horace’ grown in her borders with the smoky purple of Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’. An idea that I am definitely going to attempt to replicate next year at home.

‘Mrs Horace Darwin’ with Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’
‘Mrs George Darwin’

There were 3 blues – all tall with multiple levels of blooms. Caterina (1909) with its copper-coloured streaking and Crusader ((1913) with its scented violet blue blooms.  Amas, a very striking Iris collected by Sir Michael, has pale violet standards with rich violet falls.


The lighting conditions gave me many different effects on the petals, as did the myriad of shapes produced by the standards when viewed from different angles. The beards, in differing intensities of yellow and gold provided a flash of contrast to the petals, the latter having, (on all the varieties),  a lovely glistening lustre/ frosting which adds a touch of magic to the flowers, especially if you can catch it on the photographs.

‘Mrs George Darwin’

Here are some more of my images of the different Foster Hybrids – starting with ‘Mrs Horace Darwin’ which was my favourite of the day -:

Next is ‘Kashmir’ -:

…and finally for the whites, ‘Mrs George Darwin’

‘Amas’ was so striking and beautiful …


One of Sir Michael’s collected Irises was this delicately simple paler blue species from Italy, called Loppio. It was found growing on the northern slopes of Monte Baldo overlooking Lake Loppio in the Trentino region. Monte Baldo was given the epithet ‘Hortus Italiae’ – ‘The Garden of Italy’ – because of its richness of vegetation and number of botanical rareties. I wonder which hybrids Sir Michael created from this beauty ?


Lucy is also very interested in – and collects – the Irises created by one of Sir Michael’s mentees, W R Dykes – who went on to produce many beautiful hybrids, with the help of his wife, in the 1920’s. Unfortunately, the sun was too strong to get suitable images, however, I hope to focus on those another time.

To complete Lucy’s Iris collection are some Cedric Morris ‘Benton Caramel’ in the borders, which complemented the other garden colours beautifully in the evening sun. Lucy is very much involved in promoting the re-establishment of Cedric Morris’ Benton End House in nearby Hadleigh. However, that’s a very interesting subject for another day….

Cedric Morris Iris ‘Benton Caramel’

By the time it has passed 8 o’clock, the sun, still not set, had cast its golden glow over the garden and the irises stood, still resplendent and fresh after a day of baking hot temperatures. That’s an amazing quality to have when you think of how delicate the petals appear with all their ruffles, twists and turns. I guess we have Sir Michael Foster (and now his Gt Gt Granddaughter Lucy) to thank for that !!

My Hosta Renaming Project

I’ve been a Hosta fan since the early 90’s, when I first discovered the miniature varieties which I planted around our first pond.

Upon moving to Marlborough House, I planted 2 varieties in my front garden – all around my new pond. Nowadays, however, they are swamped by a mass of Knautia and Linaria. Torchlight and Siashu Yahne Sito   had proudly survived slug & snailess in my pond patch for many years with only the addition of Tête-à-tête daffodils in the Spring. My ex-husband wasn’t one for flowers on a big scale, preferring symmetry and order to the romantic wilderness of my imagination.

The Hostas came from Mickfield in Suffolk – home to Mickfield Hostas ( who own the National Collection) and another grower whose name I have long-since forgotten after she retired from her business.

I’ve added to my collection since those early days – mostly buying from Mickfield Hostas at shows and by visiting their amazing nursery. I defy anyone with a love for plants to leave that place without at least half a dozen fledgling varieties …

My visit last year coincided with a couple who were definitely more ‘Hosta Mad’ than me. The floors of the various greenhouses were littered with their newly chosen additions to bump up a collection which already numbered over 300 varieties !

My purchase was more modest, although once home and repotting into my terracotta pots, I realised that I was running out of space for them.  I vowed to stick there and resist future additions, although I was guilty of buying a few new ones at a Helmingham Hall Plant Fair last autumn, where Mickfield Hostas had a stall which held me under a similar spell to that of my childhood sweet shop.

I now have 27 different varieties – small, medium and large, which sit in the shade nearest my house on the north-facing patio.

The pots have customarily been topped with pea shingle, which I gauged to be a perfect deterrent to leaf-munching pests and also set off the foliage well. At the end of last Hosta season, however, I bought some organic wool slug pellets to try. I’ve never had a major issue with pests, however this year I’ve noticed an increase in nibbling on a couple of varieties – so I think I will return to the shingle pretty quick. In fact, I’ve just found a baby snail on the underside of one of the leaves. Definitely a thumbs down for the organic wool pellets!

My major task for this season is one I needn’t have had. All plants had new labels written out last year and marked with a so-called permanent ink marker. Unfortunately, the labels have faded and my task today is to rediscover which variety is which and take photographs of them all. Establish a proper catalogue. There are one or two that haven’t opened their leaves yet – so I will have to add them later on.

Luckily, the Mickfield Hosta website is an excellent one – with detailed descriptions and photographs of all their varieties. That coupled with the labels, my list of names and the existing photographs should mean that I can be 100% successful. Only one of my Hostas lacks a name – I never knew it, as I picked it up for a snip at the end of a Suffolk Show when a fancy display was being dismantled. I could probably give a good guess – although I will never be entirely sure.

Time to set to work … First job is to look at my existing images and match up the most obvious ones. I have 10 photographs. Then I will see if I can read any of the invisible ink labels at all. I’m so glad that I wrote down all the names last year and I now know why so many gardeners at the village ‘Open Garden’ events cannot tell you the name of that wonderful variety you’ve just spotted for the first time in their garden.

2 hours later …

I’ve taken all my photos and I’m left with 3 mystery Hostas. One hasn’t come into leaf yet – and could be either Stiletto or Whirlwind. I’m thinking it’s the latter, as I seem to recall losing the Stiletto early last season.

That leaves 2 plants where it’s impossible to read the labels and I have stupidly forgotten to record them anywhere. My plan is to see whether Mickfield Hostas can identify them for me, so I have sent them an email with the photographs attached. Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow’s job is to give them all a thorough soak, remove the wool pellets, replace the shingle and set them out nicely on their display table to be admired.

Mission Complete !

Helmingham Hall & Gardens – New Venture for Wildcarrot Photography

After my enjoyable experience at Suffolk Plant Heritage’s Autumn Fair, I was really pleased to hear from Helmingham Hall’s event manager – Katy Day.

Chairman, Maggie Thorpe, had forwarded her a copy of my blogpost for the event and Katy was delighted with my images, saying they were the best she had seen in her 10 years involvement with the fair.  I was naturally delighted !

This prompted me to arrange a visit to see her;  with the result being that I’m now going to officially photograph all the public events held at Helmingham,  as well as providing year-round images of its Grade 1 Listed garden ( which normally open to the public only from May until mid-September).

Katy and her colleagues will be using my images for promotional purposes and also to provide an out of season insight into the life of the gardens – for its many devotees. 

 My cameras were packed ready for my trip to Sussex,  it was a pleasant October day – and I had my ‘trusty’ companion Rusty the Labrador at my side.  It made sense to start right then and there.

So follow me through the gates and read my October Blog …



Boxford Open Gardens – 2019

The arrival of June heralded Open Garden Season with a flourish – and saw me visiting Boxford’s annual celebration for the 4th year in a row. It is always a highlight of my year !

The weather was sunny and very hot, as usual – and I knew that visiting 31 gardens in 5 hours would be impossible, especially as I wanted to ensure the quality of my images was kept to a high standard. I still had a thoroughly enjoyable time even though I only managed to visit 11 gardens.

The following images are my favourites from the day …



Always my starting place for the day’s visits;  I am never disappointed.

The plants on show are always impressive – and this year I was particularly struck by the ferns and other foliage species near the stream.


5, Church Street

This courtyard garden had undergone a major transformation since first opening last year. The new owners have worked hard and created a delightful extension to their living space. I would be extremely happy to have such a wonderful garden for relaxing in.


Mary’s House

I always love to pop my head into the back garden of this little house. Preserved as a museum by the church and cared for by the village parishioners – it has a quaint backyard filled with cottage garden plants & vibrant colours.


Hendrick House

A delightful, large walled garden, where the owners have successfully blended several different themes together, providing plenty of interest for the visitor. Gorgeous roses, vintage touches and cottage garden plants. I was especially pleased to see the lovely irises – always a joy ( and challenge) to photograph.


17 Swan Street

I’m always pleased to see Guy’s potted Hosta collection, which was looking splendid, as always. His Constance Spry rose is late flowering this year, however, there were other beauties to enjoy – such as the warm orange foxglove working perfectly against the old brick wall. Hacker, the Norfolk Terrier, made a brief appearance to have his tummy tickled !


Weavers House

Maggie Thorpe’s garden is always one of my favourites. Although it is relatively small, she has designed it beautifully, with lots of more unusual plants. The cascading urn always looks splendid, as does the Carpenteria californica.


18, Goodlands

This was a new garden for 2019 and the owner was an artist; displaying her attractive lino cut artwork. My favourites here were the Clematis – especially ‘Ville de Lyon’, as well  her vintage rhubarb pots.


45, Swan Street

This was another new garden for me. It had a perfect cottage-garden feel to it, with Foxgloves, Lupins and Roses. Unfortunately, the owner didn’t know the name of the wonderful pale pink rose which rambled against the wall of the cottage, as it had pre-dated her move there.


2 Cox Hill

It was time to leave Swan Street and walk a short distance to Cox Hill. These were my favourite images from Ginny Budd’s garden. I have to admit that is was Ginny’s beautiful new dog, Gyp, who stole the attention this time !


Boxford Views

Time was passing by quickly, so I headed back to the car in order to make my way to Groton & Edwardstone. There were many pretty gardens in view on the way – and these were my 2 favourite images …


Crown House, Groton

I always look forward to my trip up to Crown House to see Chloris’ wonderful garden. I could spend the whole day just photographing the beautiful plants there. Always keen to expand her planting, there have been new beds created since last year with some impressive Irises. A mixture of Cedric Morris and new varieties created by Chloris herself. I never fail to fall in love with the impressive rose collection and ‘Phyllis Bide’ was looking wonderful on the archway in the secret garden.

The French Lavender ‘Papillon’ was my favourite plant this year  – looking wild & romantic, set off perfectly by its gravel bed.


Dormers, Edwardstone

My last garden of the day, which was luckily open until 5pm. I was the last person to visit this very special place – and there were many many views and beautiful plants to capture. This was my favourite garden of 2018 – and I have to say that I haven’t changed my mind for this year. The vistas, roses and especially the gorgeous Lupins were enthralling. The owners and their friends were very welcoming, as were their 2 dogs – Bella & Daisy. I would really love to own this garden, although I’m sure a great deal of hard work goes on behind the scenes to create the finished effect !

I will be writing a separate blog dedicated to Dormers because I so many images that I wish to share.

Time had unfortunately run out for my garden visits, however the heat of the day had made me feel very tired so it was probably just as well.  Although I should have liked to see more of the gardens, I was so pleased to have seen such beauty and creativity in the ones I did explore.  I suggested longer opening hours to the organiser as I left, although the village seemed deserted of all other visitors as I drove on my way home.

My own “Garden Awards’ for this year are as follows :-

1st Place – Dormers

2nd Place – Crown House

3rd Place – Weavers House & Hendrick House ( Jt)

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.

Boxford Open Gardens 2018

Flowering Urn



Sunday 3rd June was my 3rd annual visit to Boxford Open Gardens.

A firm favourite with me (despite always being a scorching hot day with tricky light conditions) and so I was expecting great things from my journey around the gardens, even if I could only manage a small proportion in the 5 hours available. I actually managed to visit 19 of the 27 gardens and loved every minute …

I have a passion for my Flower Photography and hope that you will love my images.

I’ve collated my images in order to post my favourites – and most of the gardens have been included. There are new favourites every year – yet 17 Swan Street, Weavers House & Crown House are always eagerly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed. I do hope you enjoy my peek behind the back gates of the beautiful houses in this charming Suffolk village …

4, The Causeway

This was a lovely, natural garden with lots of wild flower areas and a beautiful Weigela.  A good start to my day !


2, Cox Hill

I was the first visitor of the day to this charming garden, which had a definite Plantswoman’s touch. It was lovely to chat to the owner, Ginny Budd, about her choice of flowers – especially the Cedric Morris irises. There was also a very attractive double geranium that I had never seen before. One of my favourite gardens of the day …


15, Holbrook Barn Road

The roses were magnificent back in early June, before the long dry spell kicked in – and this garden was a spectacular showcase for many beautiful examples. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit here, although it was tempered with sadness that the owner had recently lost his wife – who had been the driving force behind the garden’s creation. He had done a marvellous job keeping it in perfect condition and promised faithfully that he would learn the names of all the roses ready for my visit next year ! This was one of the loveliest smaller gardens that I have ever visited and I especially loved the views through the rose-clad archway !


21, Brook Hall Road

I was lucky enough to coincide my visit here with some beautiful singing by the Madrigalia Choir and enjoy some shade in this restful garden.








15, Brook Hall Road

The houses along this road all back onto a brook ( hence the name) and the owners of this particular garden had taken full advantage of this feature, creating a wonderful series of paths & decking around the brook. It had involved a great deal of hard work and expense, yet the result was totally worth it. They had even unearthed some special friends who lived down near the water !!




13, Brook Hall Road

Another peaceful garden with plenty of welcome shade and nature trees. I particularly loved the alpine sink with the pretty pink Lewisia.




I headed back down into the village towards the church to one of my favourite gardens from last year. I had spent ages in this garden then and was pleased to see that it held the same charm, even though the weather conditions of 2018 meant that there was a completely different display on show. This year I was also able to meet the owner, Sarah, who had been very pleased with my photos from last year’s visit.




3, Church Street

This was my favourite photo from this small courtyard-style garden, recently taken on by new owners. A beautiful rose – and I can never resist bunting !


Rambling Rose & Bunting
Rambling Rose & Bunting


Mary’s House

I always stop off for a quick visit to this lovely property. The tiny garden is always brimming with colour …




Hendrick House

This garden is always very popular with lots of interest, as well as a lovely view of St Mary’s Church tower. The plants on display were quite different to last year because of how different our weather has been – and the roses were especially pretty.


17, Swan Street

I was pleased to arrive here, as it is always one of my top gardens…

I especially love Guy’s Hosta display and the beautiful climbing rose – Constance Spry. Needless to say, these 2 were in stunning form, as always !



Weavers House

Another firm favourite with me – with the added bonus of being able to chat to a wonderful Plantswoman, Maggie Thorpe. Her small courtyard garden always looks special and is filled with more unusual varieties. This year,  I was particularly taken with the Monkshood – this image being one of my best loved of the day …



Crown House

Time was passing quicker than I thought, so I decided to make my way by car up towards Groton & Edwardstone – as I had never managed to visit many gardens from that area. I started with an old favourite at Crown House – the home of another talented Plantswoman – Chloris of ‘The Blooming Garden’ Blog.
It was as beautiful as last year – with the Rose “Phyllis Bide” looking really splendid on the trellis & arches of the Secret Garden. The latter has really come into its own this year and looks established and luxurious with the heady perfume of Honeysuckle – Lonicera “Scentsation” and a very pretty double Philadelphus “Snowbelle”. I’ve included images of my other favourites of the day, including a wonderful white single rose with flushes of pink.
All in all; a truly inspiring garden …


From Groton to Edwardstone and -:

8 The Winthrops

I had been recommended not to miss this garden if I liked roses –  and there were definitely some wonderful blooms here, as well as some delightful cottage-garden species.


Edwardstone Cottage

This garden had stunning Cistus purpureus with petals like crushed silk …




Walnut Tree Cottage

By the time I found this delightful property it had just gone 4.30 and the garden was officially closed. The owners were extremely friendly,  however,  letting me have a look around and providing me with welcome refreshment ! It was a lovely garden with the highlights being a wonderful brick outbuilding adorned with climbing rose and a stunning deep-raspberry-red lupin – which gave me another favourite image of the day.




I had planned to visit Dormers as my finale because it was open until 5pm. It was a marvellous way to finish the day, as it was a stunning garden in a most favourable setting.
Being surrounded on 3 sides by open fields gave a perfect backdrop to the planting schemes, which had been cleverly designed to maximise vistas from all angles. Beds were planted up to be viewed both looking back into the garden from the field perimeter as well as to be admired with the fields and woods beyond.

There were numerous pathways around the garden which led me to new vistas  &  garden ‘rooms’. It would be difficult for me to choose my favourite feature of the garden – as there were so many-:

The gorgeously romantic pink clematis;

The pond area with views to open countryside;

The amazing selection of roses in the front garden …

Perhaps I would have to say that the vistas created by the rose & clematis-covered archway in the side garden were the loveliest aspect ?


Certainly my image below of this vista is my top photograph of the day …


Overall – and it is a very tough decision – this was my favourite garden of the day. You will have to visit Dormers next year and decide for yourselves ..!

Dahlia – Henriette

I captured these images of this gorgeous cactus Dahlia in my friend Lisa’s garden. It’s called Henriette and has the most wonderful blend of pinks & yellows to be refreshingly different. The fantastic shapes created by its spikey, yet delicate petals are a joy to photograph …