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 …

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

 

Garden 6 – The Old Forge

 

 

Garden 11 – Bridge House

As its name suggests, this house and garden sat just across the old bridges by the side of the River Brett.  It was an amazing garden, due in part to its wonderfully setting beside the river – although mostly because of the vision and hard work of its owners. I heard many people declare that it was their favourite of the day – and from my perspective, it was definitely in my ‘Top Three’. There was just so much to photograph …

To begin, there were the vistas –

…then the plants …

…structures and majestic urns …

… and finally, bridges …

With all of it beautifully illuminated in the late afternoon sunshine, you can certainly see why visitors adored this garden !

Garden 13 – The Coach House

My last garden of the day – I arrived almost as the clock struck 5 o’clock. The friendly owner told me not to worry or rush, which was a lovely relaxing way to end my visit. The garden, set behind an extremely attractive red-bricked house, was full of charm and delicate colours. It was surrounded by fields and had the sense of being miles from anywhere …

 

My ‘garden pilgrimage’ of Chelsworth was at an end – and to be honest, I was exhausted. My schedule to cover as many gardens as possible had meant that there was only time for one refreshment break – and so I felt that a well-earned cold drink at The Peacock Inn was the perfect way to conclude my visit to the village. The Open Gardens event had been superbly organised and the garden owners were friendly and enthusiastic. There was a lovely atmosphere amongst the many visitors to the village, who – like myself – were seriously impressed with the beautiful plants and garden designs, as well as the gorgeous old buildings.

Is it possible that this year’s event could ever be surpassed ..?

Something tells me that the gardeners and their friends will be doing their utmost to make Chelsworth’s 50th Anniversary Open Gardens in 2017 the ‘best ever’ !

 See you there …