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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Bury St Edmunds Hidden Gardens – 19/6/16

After a successful visit to Lavenham’s Hidden Gardens last summer, I decided that it would be good fun to spend a day in Bury St Edmunds – to explore the hidden gardens of its historic town centre.

The event first started in 1987 and has been raising money for the local St Nicholas Hospice ever since.

It was a very hot and humid day with a mixture of sun and cloud – combined with a reasonable amount of walking around to see all the gardens. I managed to visit two-thirds of the gardens on show – and the following galleries highlight either favourite gardens or favourite plants that I discovered along the way …

Garden 1 – Chantry House.

This was actually the last garden that I visited and was right in the heart of the old town. Luckily by late afternoon it was cool, peaceful with few remaining visitors.

 

Garden 4 – 59 Southgate Street.

There was a long walk in the hot sun to get to this out-lying garden. The advantage was that it was much quieter than the central ones and there was some welcome cooling shade. It was very attractive with lots of cottage garden plants – including aconitums and geraniums.

 

Garden 5 – 6 Southgate Green.

This garden particularly appealed to me because of its mix of wild flowers with the more traditional garden species. It had beautiful herbaceous borders with wonderful colour combinations and areas of wild grasses with ox-eye daisies. There were lots of happy bees and other insects busily feeding – and many people ( including me !) feasting on Gabrielle’s wonderful home-made cakes …

 

Garden 6 – 32 Maynewater Lane.

A beautiful clematis with huge purple flowers caught my eye in this garden …

 

Garden 11 – 6 College Lane.

This garden had once been the exercise yards of the old workhouse and had the feel of a serene and peaceful cloister. There was plenty of room for sunny and shaded areas – and I was delighted to see numerous thriving  Astrantias – one of my most favourite plants.

 

Garden 12 – The Guildhall Feoffment Trust, College Square.

This garden was a real revelation to me, as I was expecting it to adhere to a certain formula – of bedding plants and conventional planting. I was pleasantly surprised at how imaginative the choice of plants was – and this ended up being one of my top gardens of the day …

There were wonderful beds of scented roses in blocks of colour for maximum impact, beautiful aquilegias with long graceful spurs, dahlias and Honey Garlic ( Nectaroscordum siculum) Anyone growing the latter two plants is always going to get ‘brownie points’ from me ! I imagine the residents really love and appreciate such a beautiful garden …

 

Garden 13 – Greyfriars

This was another beautiful walled garden with more interesting plantings – such as a majestic goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus) and the most impressive and beautiful peony that I had ever seen.

 

Garden 18 – Turret Close

My final gallery today is from this massive garden filled with many different sections and types of plant. It was beautifully designed and cared for – and understandably appeared to be attracting ‘Top Garden of the Day’ votes from many of my fellow visitors. I prefer the more humble and understated – and this was reflected in the plants that I chose to capture from this garden …

 

I had a thoroughly enjoyable, albeit tiring day, exploring the gardens normally hidden from public view. The garden owners and visitors were all extremely friendly and there was a lovely atmosphere around the town.

I was glad though to have worked out a route that kept me away from the crowds that were swarming like bees around this beautiful collection of gardens, as I prefer to do my photography in a more peaceful setting, where I can truly capture the essence and atmosphere of the garden -without getting in anyone’s way.

My special awards for the day have been chosen with that atmosphere in mind – and are as follows :-

Runner up – Garden 4  Peaceful and cottagey.

Bronze Medal – Garden 12  Imaginative, perfumed and restful.

Silver Medal – Garden 11  Serene and secluded.

Gold Medal – Garden 5  Full of colour and wildlife with a wonderful feel of the countryside within the town.

A truly wonderful day in Bury St Edmunds – where the Hidden Gardens revealed Hidden Treasures …
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Boxford Open Gardens – 5/6/2016

A beautifully sunny and extremely hot Sunday set the scene for a day of total indulgence for me – Boxford Village Open Gardens followed by a visit to the nearby Leaven Hall in Leavenheath.

The prospect of visiting the gardens of Boxford filled me with excitement and enthusiasm, although I knew that I would be restricted in the number of gardens that I could fit in to my limited time frame. I therefore decided to choose those closest to the centre of this picturesque Suffolk village …

There was a vast array of wonderful gardens to choose from – I only managed to visit 5 out of the 21 shown in the leaflet !  I took my time in each one, especially my 3 favourites, so that I could really concentrate on getting some special images – rather than rushing around madly with the photography suffering as a result.

The weather, albeit gorgeous, was not presenting the best lighting conditions for close-up flower photography, so it was necessary to choose plants in dappled sunlight or shade wherever possible. It was also scorchingly hot and I therefore moved slowly and tried to keep in the shade as much as I could.

Here is my gallery of images from each of my Top 3 Gardens …

 

Garden 17 – Swan Street

My choice for  ‘garden of the day’ – with lots of my favourite plants in – including the wonderful Nectaroscordum siculum. The bright sunlight meant that I could not really do the beauty of this garden justice. Luckily, the owner had a shady area near to his house, where he kept his wonderful collection of container-grown Hosta …

 

Weavers House, Swan Street

The second fascinating garden that I visited was that of a truly dedicated plantswoman, named Maggie Thorpe, who is president of the Suffolk Plant Heritage group. Her garden was full of unusual varieties and she was happily explaining about them all to her many visitors. The garden was a wonderful sun trap with little space for me to set up my tripod – so unfortunately I only have photos of the one flower that really caught my eye… It was a beautiful lemon-yellow Aquilegia longifolia – with its graceful spurs lending it an angelic quality.

 

 

Causeway House

My final featured garden was the last one I visited that morning. It was leafy, cool and peaceful with a stream running along one side. The planting here was different to the other two, with many shade-loving species. It was easier to photograph here with the light filtered and softened by the trees.

Despite not normally being a great fan of shade-loving plants, I was quite taken by the Brunnera, with its flowers so like Forget-me-nots, that I originally believed that the latter were growing through the perennial forming a perfect partnership with the cream and green leaves.

The other plant combinations that caught my eye were the bold and spiky Allium cristophii surrounded by the frothy yellow and lime-green flowers and soft olive leaves of Alchemilla mollis – and a beautiful soft pink peony set off against the dark-purple leaves of a Sambucus nigra or ornamental Elder.

Sad to be leaving Boxford with so many wonderful gardens unexplored, I nevertheless decided that I had done remarkably well in choosing such a superb small selection of plant havens. I certainly hope that my images convey the beauty that I found there.

Next year I will be a guaranteed visitor to Boxford Village on Open Garden Day 2017, with the mission to explore all of the gardens and take many more images ..!