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 !!

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.

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

 

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 !!

SaveSave

SaveSave

 

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.

SaveSave

 

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.

SaveSave

SaveSave

 

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 …

SaveSave

SaveSave

 

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 !

 

SaveSave

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 …

SaveSave

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 …

SaveSave

SaveSave

 

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.

SaveSave

 

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 ..!

Wildcarrot Meadow

This year I was treated to an amazing spectacle – the most glorious Wildflower Meadow, over-flowing with my favourite Wildcarrots …

Chuch View Gardens are a wonderful source of inspiration for me – and there is nowhere better to spend a lazy summer’s afternoon soaking up Nature’s work at its very best. 2017 has been the best year yet for the Wildcarrots – and the meadow has really flourished.

The Wild Orchid Display in late Spring/early Summer was also the best ever seen here – so I can’t help thinking that it’s largely down to the careful management of the owners; Christine & Bob – who have been very sympathetic to the garden’s individual micro-climate and terroir – allowing Nature to take centre stage.

Here are some of my favourite images :-

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 …

Blog -35

 

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.

 

Blog -25

 

 

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 …

 

 

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 …
Continue reading