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 –

Kashmir

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.

‘Caterina’
‘Crusader’
‘Amas’

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 …

‘Amas’
‘Caterina’

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 ?

Loppio

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 !!

October at Helmingham Hall

It was bright and sunny when I began my October tour of Helmingham’s Grade 1-listed Gardens, although the fresh breeze was hurrying along some darker clouds. It felt strange to be there when it was so quiet, without the hundreds of people milling about and the grounds filled with parked cars. It was extremely peaceful and the  sheep and deer grazed close to the hall itself.

I started my visit in the Rose Garden, with its accompanying accents of purple provided by Asters and Aconitum. One of my favourite David Austin roses – the wildy romantic Harlow Carr – was swirling in circles in the wind as Flora looked on unperturbed.

I’ve always loved the view of the Knot Garden from the raised walkway that runs beside the moat. It was designed back in 1982, specifically to provide such a vista from the house and for those progressing, as I was, towards the walled garden on the opposite side of the hall. The two urns flanking the steps down to the Knot Garden are always a favourite photographic subject for me with their richly-coloured Pelargoniums.

The Hall itself is one of my favourite historic buildings and always seems more romantic when the dark clouds gather in the sky above its orange/red brick facades. There was definitely a brooding nature to the sky as I walked closer to the Parterre Garden.

The two large stone urns in the Parterre’s round beds had been emptied and the white Cosmos taken away. In its place neat rows of Wallflower were newly planted. I’m looking forward to the privilege of seeing them when they first come into flower. It was at this point that the heavens’ opened, giving me the chance to capture the Parterre in the rain as we sheltered under a delightful canopy to the side of the garden.

 

Thanks to the fresh breeze, the rainstorm was soon over and I was able to continue through the wrought iron gates into the Walled Garden. I love the way the pink and white Anemones provide  a soft counterpoint to the statuesque gate pillars with their majestic Pegasus finials.

Entrance to The Walled Garden

Once inside the walls, I visited each area in turn, trying capture the spirit of the garden as it begins its period of hibernation. The gardeners had been busy cutting away spent foliage, clearing the wildflower spiral and spreading manure on the flower borders. The Gourd Tunnel still hung with fruits, which glowed in the autumn sun.

The flower borders seemed asleep apart from the purple and pinks of Asters – yet the Sunflowers in their wrought iron tunnel seemed to be refusing to acknowledge the end of Summer.

Beautifully vivid pink Nerines lined the inside of the west wall and provided a perfect backdrop to the glossy green leaves of the box sculptures.

Dahlias in the cutting bed dazzled me with their jewelled brilliance – the gardeners told me that they would remain until the first frosts, although the tubers in the herbaceous borders had already been lifted.

It was time for me to think about finishing for the day and starting my journey down to Sussex. I couldn’t resist a few more images of favourite things, as I left the Walled Garden.

As I left Helmingham Hall and gazed back up the long main drive with its wonderful avenue of trees, I felt honoured and very happy that I will be able to follow the Hall and its beautiful gardens each month as it gently and peacefully makes its way through Winter and into Spring.

I look forward to seeing you again in November …

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.

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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 !!

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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.

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Chequers

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.

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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 …

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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 !

 

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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 …

Monkshood
Monkshood

 

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 …

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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 …

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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.

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Dormers

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 ..!

Boxford Open Gardens – Sunday 4th June 2017

The prospect of another gloriously sunny weekend added to my eager anticipation of visiting Boxford Open Gardens in Suffolk – celebrating its 20th year.

In 2016, on a scorchingly hot day, I had to juggle my time between Boxford’s delights and the beautiful garden at Leaven Hall in Leavenheath – which had its doors open under the National Garden Scheme.
I was therefore looking forward to covering more ground at Boxford this year and definitely managing to visit some of the outlying gardens in Edwardstone & Groton.

Full of determination and excitement, I purchased my programme and made a start opposite St Mary’s Church – at Chequers, a former coaching inn …

Chequers.

My quest of photographing 24 Gardens in 6 hours seemed remotely feasible until I stepped over the threshold into this awe-inspiring garden, which managed to captivate me for well over an hour !

I started in the Walled Garden and was amazed to find that the land behind the house was far ranging. There were many beautiful flowers, arranged in an informal style – the borders flowing harmoniously from one colour to the next.

When I turned around to face the house, I was pleasantly surprised by the most picturesque view of St Mary’s church tower rising up behind the characterful Chequers itself.


I loved the gentle nature of Walled Garden. Nothing grand or showy – just charming … I found the palette of colours – provided by Geraniums, Veronica, Alliums and Euphorbia – to be very pleasing.

There were many individual flowers that caught my eye -:

A path from the Walled Garden led through a vegetable patch to a gate in a crinkle-crankle wall …

Once through, the garden opened up into an area of more greenery – trees, shrubs and a slope down towards a wooden bridge.
This bridge led me across the River Box (which flowed delightfully through the wider expanses of the garden) and took me onto a huge meadow area with trees, a pond and natural planting.

I was enthralled by Chequers, despite now being seriously behind schedule – yet couldn’t think of a better place to lose all track of time …

 

Mary’s House.

This was my first stop along Swan Street – a tiny, but quaint cottage garden. It belonged to a home bequeathed to the church by its owner and was a sun-trap full of colour.

 

Hendrick House.

The sun was at its hottest whilst I was visiting this beautiful garden, presenting me with some tricky conditions for my photography. It was a fun challenge to work with that in order to produce images which truly represented the beauty of the place.

The garden occupies a large area backing onto the River Box and the garden at Chequers. It has similarly beautiful views of the church.

The following are my favourite photographs, with a special mention going to the impressive delphiniums, whose bold blues & purples were still able to wow me even in the extremely bright sunshine -:

I mustn’t forget my favourite garden sculpture, which I remembered fondly from last year …

 

Number 17 – Swan Street.

This was my favourite garden from last year and it was easy to see why I had been seduced by its beauty. Smaller than the previous garden (which it abutted), this still had the wonderful feel & atmosphere to it that I had loved so much before. The look of the garden was quite different to last year, due to the flowers all blooming earlier. There were, however, most capable & beautiful replacements to step into the limelight. It was tricky to pick out individual areas as favourites because it was the overall planting design and combinations of colours that meant the whole garden worked for me as a delightful place to sit, relax and stare ( and take photographs, of course).

Mention must go, however, to the gorgeous climbing rose, Constance Spry (above & below),  which I had spotted eagerly from the previous garden.

The Iris siberica were coming to an end – yet were still as beautiful as last year.

I especially loved the owner’s new planting arrangement of Poppy, Geranium, Cerinthe and Valerian.

I was also lucky enough to catch a cheeky photo of Hacker the dog …

 

Weavers House.

Next stop was the garden belonging to Maggie Thorpe, from the Suffolk Plant Heritage Society. Always a pleasure to meet and so knowledgeable; Maggie has a gorgeous suntrap of a garden with an abundance of beautiful plants worked perfectly into a small courtyard area,  full of interest and attractive combinations and colours.

My favourites this year (as it looked quite different to last) were the dainty rose, Ballerina, and the exotic Carpenteria Californica – with flowers like Japanese anenomes.

 

Number 55, Swan Street.

This was a new garden of a recently-built property, a little further along Swan Street. Related to the family at Hendrick House, the owner had set out some very attractive landscaping & beds – ready for what will be a beautiful garden of the future. The owner explained that lots of plants had come from her family’s garden, so it is clear that it will be a garden with an excellent choice of species. Starring already were the striking delphiniums and lupins in the rear borders – as well as a lovely rose in the front garden.

 

I look forward to seeing how the garden has matured by 2018 !

 

Crown House, Groton.

My last garden of the day involved a trip out to Groton on the shuttle minibus. Maggie had encouraged me to visit – saying that Crown House was a garden not to be missed – and one to linger in for the remainder of the day. I was also swayed to venture up the hill by a message I had recently received, regarding last year’s Boxford article on my Wildcarrot blog.  A fellow blogger, under the pen name ‘Chloris’, had visited my post and sent her hopes that I would come to visit her garden this year. I had no idea which of the outlying gardens ‘Chloris’ had created, but was keen to see if I could find out. I was delighted to find that I chosen the correct one – and was able to meet ‘Chloris’ in person !

So many delightful plants, unusual varieties and a lovely serene, peaceful feeling about the garden, soon let me know that I had chosen well. There were lots of interesting elements – such as the beach garden – which inspired me and renewed my interest in getting my beach hut & beach area finally underway. It was especially interesting to see the horned poppy – which I will definitely be planting at Marlborough House.

There was also an interesting alpine gravel garden – with an eye-catching Rhodhypoxis baurii …

Here are a few of my other favourites -:

My overriding pleasure from this garden, however, came from the roses. Firstly the 2 tree-climbers: although one, Grace, is not a climber – it has just taken to its location superbly well and adapted to tree-living …

The single/semi-double roses were a joy and it made such a refreshing change to see them featured so prominently.

There were also plenty of beautiful doubles in a myriad shades of pink. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a lovely collection of roses in such a natural, cottage-garden setting – truly wonderful.

I’m so glad I finished my thoroughly enjoyable day here, as there was so much to see & photograph.

I would love to discover the name of every rose I’ve featured and I’m hoping that ‘Chloris’ will let me know in due course, so that I can update my galleries.

 

This is the longest post I’ve completed so far on my blog, which is a testament to the extremely high standard of gardens at this year’s event. It is much too tricky to pick a favourite …

 

Thanks to all the friendly, welcoming owners who were happy for me to spend a long time in each of their gardens, enabling me to get some amazing images. I do hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing your wonderful creations displayed in my post.

See you all – and hopefully a few more in 2018 …

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Otley Hall – 29/6/16

Otley Hall is an enchanting 16th Century timbered hall in Suffolk, surrounded by beautiful gardens. It is unmistakably Tudor and supposedly the oldest house in Suffolk to have remained largely unaltered by the passing of time and fashions.

There is something magical and mysterious about the place, which is difficult to explain. It is a certain feeling that I get when I visit – rather like entering a secret garden that only a few people know is there.

This may be because it’s only open in the summer months – and only on a Wednesday for a few hours ? Or perhaps because it is still a private home with a completely separate identity when visitors are not around  ? It may also be because it is located in a ‘sleepy’, unspoilt area of Suffolk which many pass by on their way to somewhere more famous, such as Helmingham Hall ? Or it may be because the planting has a relaxed informal feel about it – with areas given over to wildflowers, orchards, and a soothing labyrinth. I always feel that I can lose myself there, totally absorbed in my photography, as if it were just me and the flowers and no one