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 else …

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On this particular visit, I was too late to see the mass of Ox-Eye Daisies and Columbines – which are a speciality of early Summer in the garden. In their place were many other species that I had not been able to photograph before – such is the beauty of Nature – always being able to produce something beautiful to please us. I was lucky enough though to spot a small patch of the daisies amongst the trees …

 

 

I started my day in the knot garden, which was looking delightful – with old-fashioned pinks, lavender, corncockles and roses.

 

 

From there, I was attracted towards a shady walkway where I had spotted one of my favourite flowers – Astrantia major. There are so many different versions of this flower ranging from white, through rose, to deep claret. The original white, with its pink-tinged stamens always remains my favourite. ‘Hattie’s Pincushion’ is a wonderful common name for this flower, as it describes the bloom so much better than its old-fashioned name of Masterwort. It also has the most artistic way of flowering, with each main flower-head surrounded by radiating blooms at a slightly lower level – rather like a princess attended by her ladies-in-waiting. My aim is to get a perfect image of this effect, with exactly the right focus on all the beautiful elements. Whatever the outcome, I certainly have immense fun trying …

 

The herbaceous borders closest to the house are set out around a square area of lawn – with 3 sides in the sun and the 4th a shade border. Although it would seem like a suitable template for a more formal area of the garden, the planting has a cottage garden feel to it, with a definite romantic nature. It is a prime example of a great deal of hard work being undertaken to give the impression of a nonchalant planting scheme. This results -in my opinion- in an enchanting area of the garden ( and my personal favourite ) with the wonderful timbered hall as its backdrop.

 

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wc-3Unfortunately, the wind was quite fresh on this particular visit and so flowers like the gorgeous Cephalaria gigantea were swaying in the breeze. Not good for photography – although beautiful to watch – with a multitude of different bees feeding greedily on its creamy-yellow blooms.

 

There were plenty of other exciting flowers to photograph, whose blooms were closer to the ground – so I spent the rest of my visit happily working my way around the borders – watched only by one of the resident peacocks, who was resting in the rose garden closest to the house.

 

 

wc-1 I would like to end my piece by giving a mention to the Head Gardener, Simon Nickson. I have been lucky enough to speak to him on each of my visits to the garden, finding him to be very approachable and friendly. He has always been happy to chat about the garden and help with identification of particular plants. It was great to be able to thank him for the root of Epilobium angustifolium ‘Stahl Rose’ (a garden version of the Rosebay Willowherb) which he had saved for me last Autumn. I had admired it the previous summer – and it is now blooming beautifully in my pond border. I feel proud to have a small part of the wonderful gardens of Otley Hall in my own modest patch.

I believe that the romantic beauty of the garden here owes a great deal to his hard work and vision, which in turn creates the magical, mystical atmosphere that I love so much …

 

 

Chelsworth Open Gardens 26/6/2016

Of all the ‘Open Garden’ events on my calendar for the summer months, Chelsworth was the one that I had been looking forward to the most. It had been 3 years since I last visited this wonderful event – in a village that I consider to be one of Suffolk’s most picturesque.

The characterful houses and cottages that line the main winding route through Chelsworth always catch the eye – and make me want to linger a while to soak up the atmosphere of a country village that seems unspoilt by the passage of time. 

The pretty 13th century church, the pair of narrow bridges that span the River Brett and the abundance of green open spaces, all add to the village’s charm – as does the Peacock Inn, which is a quintessentially English country pub, dating back to the 14th century.

The alluring prospect of wandering freely around the beautiful gardens hidden behind these gorgeous listed buildings was too hard to resist – and I was determined to visit as many as possible. There were 22  gardens in the programme and I was able to look around 16 of them. I started at the west end of the village -so I will just have to begin at the opposite end next year !

I was very excited to be taking photographs of the gardens for 2 reasons -:

Firstly, I didn’t have my SLR camera with its special macro lens on my previous visit, which prevented any close-up shots – and secondly, this year was Chelsworth’s 49th Open Garden event and they are running a photographic competition to produce a 50th Anniversay Calendar …

These are my favourite images from the wonderful selection I visited – each garden having its own special charm …

 

Garden 21 – Swifts 

Chelswoth Blog-1

This garden was of special interest to me, as I was hoping to see a rather gorgeous tabby cat who lived there. I had managed to capture a wonderful close-up photograph of her on my previous visit. Unfortunately, the garden was quite waterlogged after the excess of recent rain, so no doubt Tigger had found a dry, cosy place inside the house ?!

 

Garden 20 – Meadow Cottage

This was the first of the gardens lining the north side of the valley – with many of them lucky enough to have their own meadow land rising up behind them. Perfect for fruit trees, vegetables and wild gardens. I contented myself looking at the lovely cottage plants closest to the house.

 

Garden 19 – Woodstock Cottage

 

 

Garden 18 – Hope Cottage

This garden belonged to a modern cottage which had been blended in perfectly with the older properties surrounding it. The garden was also new and had been made out of a field that belonged to the owner when he had lived next door.

 

Garden 17 -Tudor Cottage

A very pretty cottage garden, where the owner had transferred her upper garden to neighbours since my last visit.

 

 

 

Garden 16 – Church View

Some of my favourite plants were growing in this garden, which was vast and divided into lots of separate ‘gardens rooms’.  My absolute favourite was the Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’  –  dancing like pretty ladies in the breeze …

 

 

Garden 15 – Oak Tree Cottage

A wonderful place for tea and cake under the shade of a glorious walnut tree – with an amazing Delphinium bed.

 

Delphinium Bed

 

 

Garden 14 – The Grange

A beautiful garden adjoining the church and belonging to an impressive Hall House originating from the 14th century. It had a walled garden, statuesque formal planting and lovely cottage-garden borders. The roses were beautiful and the atmosphere of this garden (which was also serving afternoon tea & cakes) was friendly and relaxing.

 

Garden 10 – The Summer House

This delightful garden belonged to an old house tucked neatly behind The Peacock Inn. There was a wonderful collection of beautiful roses – mixed with complementing cottage garden plants.

 

 

Garden 9 – Princhetts

A massive garden belonging to a grand old residence. It had a lovely walled garden with an inviting wrought iron gate at its far corner, leading through to a vegetable garden, trees and a wildflower meadow.

 

Garden 8 – Middle House

 

 

 

Garden 7 – The Old Manor