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Helmingham Hall Garden

15 GARDENS TO VISIT THIS summer in Suffolk

Wimbledon, cricket and a stroll around a country garden; summer just wouldn't be the same without them. And so we have compiled a list of 15 Suffolk gardens for you to visit in the coming months.
 
Not all of them are in the countryside - some are peaceful oases in busy towns - but all are lovingly tended and relaxing, even inspiring, to walk around. We invite you to open the garden gate and step inside...
Gardens of Suffolk
Hidden gardens of Suffolk

1. ICKWORTH HOUSE & GARDENS, HORRINGER

Ickworth House offers a slice of classical Italy in Suffolk: its neoclassical rotunda houses treasures collected from tours around 18th century Europe, while its Italianate gardens are the earliest in England.
 
Set in 1800 acres of parkland, highlights include rolling landscapes, a magical stumpery and a seasonal meadow whose flowers change naturally depending on which month you visit. The gardens are generally open from 9am to 4.30pm throughout the year.
Ickworth House The National TrustIckworth House in Horringer is surrounded by exquisite Italianate gardens

2. GLEMHAM HALL, LITTLE GLEMHAM

Built in circa 1560, and later given a Georgian façade, Glemham Hall is a picturesque place to spend time. As well as looking around the hall itself, you can also explore the 300 acres of parkland surrounding it, including a walled rose garden, some 600-year-old oak trees, topiary, classical urns and a sculpture garden. 
 
Book a tour of Glemham Hall and its grounds (it takes 1 hour 30 minutes) for £13 per person by calling 07920 855041. 
Glemham Hall Gardens SuffolkThe magical gardens of Glemham Hall close to the riverside town of Woodbridge

3. THE PLACE FOR PLANTS, EAST BERGHOLT

Set in East Bergholt in the heart of Constable Country and the beautiful Stour Valley, The Place for Plants is a 20-acre garden and arboretum full of rambling roses, unusual flowering trees, fruit trees and wildflowers.
 
The garden is open to the public from March until late September, and entry costs £6 for adults in the summer (children, free). After a tour of this sprawling, beautiful place, you can enjoy a bite to eat in the café, and pick up some seeds and plants of your own in the well-stocked garden centre.
The Place for Plants SuffolkFind inspiration at The Place for Plants

4. Bury St Edmunds’ Hidden Gardens

Discover the Hidden Gardens event of Bury St Edmunds. Blooming beautiful gardens usually shielded from sight open their gates to visitors in aid of St Nicholas Hospice Care. This year, around 30 gardens, mature and new, large and small - and all within walking distance - will be opening across the town centre on Sunday June 16, giving visitors the chance to enjoy a delightful walk around this historic town.

 

Hidden Gardens Bury St EdmundsExplore the private gardens in Bury St Edmunds on one day of the year!

5. The Gardens at RIVERSIDE HOUSE, CLARE

This private garden is set beside the River Stour in the charming village of Clare, and opens this year on Sunday June 9th in aid of Age Concern between 12pm and 5pm.
 
The owners of Riverside House are bulb specialists and sell over 130 varieties of spring flower bulbs from the beginning of September to early November (the shop is open from 10am - 4.30pm). Customers wishing to buy bulbs are also welcome to wander through the garden, which is planted to look especially appealing in the autumn. Visit The Clare Bulb Company website for details.
Clare Bulb Garden SuffolkThe annual showcase of this private garden in the historic village of Clare

6. CHRISTCHURCH PARK, IPSWICH

Christchurch Park in Ipswich is 70 acres of rolling lawns and woodland, with a botanical garden of beautiful trees that’s home to over 100 species of bird.
 
At the park’s centre, next to a rippling pond, is Christchurch Mansion: a museum and art gallery that holds a large collection of works by artists John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough.
 
Christchurch Park is free to enter and open all year round, so if you don’t get a chance to visit this summer, fear not: it’s just as magical on a cold, frosty day in winter.
Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich ©ShowCaptureChristchurch Mansion Gardens in Ipswich

7. HELMINGHAM HALL, HELMINGHAM

Much admired, the Grade I listed gardens at Helmingham Hall, not too far from historic Framlingham, are a joy to visit, not least because it won the garden of the year award back in 2017. Designed and maintained by award-winning garden designer and owner of the hall, Lady Xa Tollemache, they include an elegant parterre overlooking the moat and hall; a knot garden; a fragrant rose garden; a walled vegetable garden; orchards; and walkways with the most gorgeous, seasonal borders.
 
Benches are dotted about the gardens, inviting the visitor to linger and soak up the peace and beauty of the place. There's a cafe and shop on site and regular events throughout the year.
 
The gardens are open from 1st May until mid-September on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday (and bank holidays) from 11-4.30pm. Entry to the gardens is £7 for adults and £3.50 for children.
Helmingham Hall Gardens SuffolkThe gardens at Helmingham Hall were created by award-winning garden designer Lady Xa Tollemache

8. MELFORD HALL, LONG MELFORD

Another spectacular Suffolk estate is Melford Hall (National Trust) in Long Melford. Home to the Hyde Parker family, this historic hall was frequented by Beatrix Potter, a cousin and a regular visitor. She spent many a summer’s day wandering the grounds and dreaming up stories about the animals that lived there.
 
Its landscaped gardens are a perfect place to play a spot of croquet and watch some summer theatre; explore the wildlife-friendly woodland or take a walk in the surrounding countryside.  Melford Hall is open every day, except for Mondays and Tuesdays, until the end of October.
 

Exploring the garden costs £9.00 for adults and £4.50 for children. It includes entry to the house.

Melford Hall SuffolkFine topiary at Melford Hall in Long Melford, where scenes from the long-running TV series Lovejoy was partly filmed
Somerleyton Hall and Gardens (c) Visit EnglandSomerleyton Hall boasts acres of lavishly manicured gardens. Photo (c) Visit England

9. FULLER'S MILL GARDEN, WEST STOW

The founder and former resident Bernard Tickner of Fullers Mill Garden in West Stow, near Bury St Edmunds, spent over 50 years crafting its seven acres into a diminutive paradise of woodland, flowerbeds and hedgerows, all intersected by the babbling River Lark. Visit the 'low garden', 'quandaries', and 'the strip'.
 
It’s a fantastic place to see rare plants that don’t grow wild in England. The garden is open Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays between 3rd April and 29th September, and entry costs £4.50, children 16 and under are free. Light refreshments provided at The Bothy.
 
Fullers Mill Garden West Stow in SuffolkThe magical gardens at Fuller's Mill in West Suffolk, near The Brecks

10. SOMERLEYTON HALL & GARDENS, SOMERLEYTON

Set in the picture-perfect village of Somerleyton, north of Lowestoft, this elegant Victorian hall is surrounded by exquisite gardens. You can lose yourself in the yew maze - reportedly one of the finest in Britain - relax in the walled garden, walk through the 90 metre blossom pergola, or admire the ornate greenhouses, built by the architect of Crystal Palace.
 
Somerleyton Hall & Gardens are open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and bank holidays from mid April to late September. Entry is £11.45 for adults and £6.50 for children (5-16). If you decide to just 'do' the gardens, it's a bit of a bargain at half the price.
Somerleyton Gardens Suffolk
The stunning pergola at Somerleyton Hall and Gardens in Suffolk

11. KENTWELL HALL, LONG MELFORD

At first glance, you might expect the gardens of this mansion to be as traditional as its Tudor façade. However, among the gardens of Kentwell Hall in the village of Long Melford, you’re likely to find anything from quirky sculptures to a model galleon. And if you happen to visit during one of their famous medieval recreation days, you will travel back in time and meet people going about their business, cooking, gardening and gossiping, Tudor-style.
 
There are seasonal walks in the spring when the woodlands on the Kentwell estate look particularly vibrant. Look out for the Celebration of Poppies in the Walled Garden. The hall and gardens are open on various days throughout the year, hosting many special events. One sight not to be missed is the ancient Yew trees with a modern hedge of ‘Pied Piper’ topiary.
 
On ordinary open days, entry to the house, garden and farm costs £13.95 for adults and £9.95 for children (5 - 15), or a family ticket is £43.50. Under 5's are free!

 

Kentwell Hall Gardens Suffolk
Spot sculptures and topiary at Kentwell Hall

12. WYKEN HALL GARDENS, BURY ST EDMUNDS

The intricate, old-style gardens at Wyken Hall reflect the Elizabethan nature of the house itself. Take a wander through the grounds and you’ll find a knot garden, herb garden, nuttery, wildflower meadow, traditional kitchen garden and much more, all bursting with the colours of an English summer.

You’ll also find a critically acclaimed restaurant, vineyard and country market, making a visit to Wyken Hall an all-round great day out.

The gardens are open every day except Saturdays from 2pm-6pm April to late September, and entry costs £5 per adult (children, free).

Wyken Hall Gardens SuffolkVisit the beautifully cultivated gardens in the 'back-yard' of Wyken Hall

13. The Abbey Gardens, BURY ST EDMUNDS

The Abbey Gardens in the heart of Bury St Edmunds is the perfect spot for enjoying peace and quiet whilst watching the world go by. The award-winning 14-acre park is on the site of a former Benedictine Abbey, the Abbey of St Edmund, once a power house of medieval England. Free to wander, there is much to explore here: abbey ruins, sculptures, hidden garden 'rooms' and many quiet nooks and shady corners to picnic, read a book or sit in contemplation. Its eye-catching displays has earnt its place as one of the region's leading gardens to see and attracts an international audience.

Abbey Gardens Bury
The Abbey Gardens in the heart of historic Bury St Edmunds ©Shaun Pearce

14. RSPB Wildlife Garden, Flatford

Nestled in the very heart of Constable Country in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the RSPB Wildlife Garden is a buzzing haven for wildlife. It's designed to show how we can all grow gardens that will appeal to bees, birds and other wildlife and look beautiful at the same time.

The garden is free to enter and RSPB volunteers are on hand to answer questions about the different shrubs and flowers (and bee houses!). Leave enough time to walk up the lane to see Willy Lott's House and Flatford Mill, where artist John Constable painted one of his most famous pieces, The Hay Wain (1821). Follow that will a walk through the surrounding countryside, so beloved by Constable.

RSPB Flatford GardenRSPB Flatford Wildlife Garden Nature Reserve

15. Nowton Park, Near Bury St Edmunds

Nature lovers will find Nowton Park, near Bury St Edmunds, fascinating, not least for its vivid display of daffodils that burst into life each spring. The park consists of over 200 acres of West Suffolk countryside and encompasses a unique arboretum; home to eucalyptus from Australia, paperbark maple from China and Kentucky coffee trees from North America. The China region is authentically rich in bamboo, whilst a Native American totem pole forms part of the North American region, carved from red cedar.

A substantial play area is also sure to keep the children occupied, along with the numerous paths that are ideal for cycling. A perfectly clipped hedge maze, designed in the shape of an oak tree and consisting of 2,500 hornbeam trees and over two miles of hedging, is also bound to keep you entertained for an hour or two!

Nowton Park near Bury St Edmunds SuffolkNowton Park is renowned for its vivid display of daffodils that burst into life each spring.

INDOOR GARDEN: URBAN JUNGLE, BUNGAY

Urban Jungle is an experience like no other! With a level of exoticism and quirky inspiration, it attracts visitors from far and wide, searching for something alternative, and simply not found in the traditional garden centre. Dominated by giant cacti, larger-than-life plants, and unsual species, Urban Jungle make their food just as fascinating as their plants. The Bohemian surroundings, which are perfect for socialising, serve up specialities made from their Edible Jungle. Lose yourself amongst the Olive trees, grasses, ferns, cacti and succulents to name just a few.

Urban JungleThe exotic Urban Jungle, near Beccles

CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS?

If you love being outside, why not plan an outdoor adventure in Suffolk or visit one of Suffolk's many natures reserves, and tell us all about your adventures via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?