There was plenty of space to park the car at Kirtling Tower, near Newmarket (in the county of Cambridgeshire, rather than Suffolk). This is a fine shooting estate and there was a friendly welcome from the helpers sitting in the gun bus at the entrance.
It is such a bonus to be given a history of this ancient site which we were handed as we arrived. This incidentally, included a list of food and drink from the household accounts for the three day visit of the Queen in 1578.
First we walk through a meadow planted with thousands and thousands of daffodils. A living memorial to the eldest son who died in 2000; it is a beautiful way to remember him.
The Himalayan Birch Betula utilis var. jacquemontii is striking as you enter the Secret Garden; a hallmark of the great Richard Ayers who created the famous winter garden at Anglesey Abbey, the previous home of the Fairhaven family.
They look handsome either as a single or in a ghostly group.
and it is good to see someone has a sense of humour!
The silver theme is echoed round the corner in the stems of the white bramble rubus cockburnianus:
who have the small species tulips growing at their feet.
Stems of the alba ‘Sibirica’ glow golden,
and naked branches of Willow are bent over to form an archway.
It is a quiet garden devoid of the noise of traffic or urban sprawl, and it is the gentle sounds of birds and water which you hear.
The hellebores remind me of a bunch of gleeful schoolgirls.
The white bergenia brightens the base of a tree.
Turning left out of the secret garden we walk down the pleached Hornbeam drive.
The closed iron gates, appear to be more of a ‘clairevoie’ rather than an access route.
Just a little further on we find the gate is open into the walled garden:
This border now seemingly dormant, will look at its best in the summer months. Meanwhile sheltered from the March winds the herbaceous plants are beginning to forge ahead.
These foxtail lilies are going to be huge and stunning.
Edges are neat and the grass is mown. Diagonal paths cut across and meet in the middle; a central focus with a circular frame to the planting.
Clipped ornamental hawthorn Crateageaus orientalis line the paths.
Vast terracotta pots filled with topiary and the scented shrub of Osmanthus x burkwoodii provide interest in the Victorian garden. There is a large variety coming through in the paeony beds.
This graceful antique statue will enjoy their rich blooms, but at the moment she has to be content with the evergreens.
Across the lawn there are more statues, animated and so very white against the yew hedge
Heading away to the informal part of the garden this chap grins at us from the bridge.
More signs of Spring along the Tudor walk beside the shallow moat.
The snake heads fritillary fritillaria meleagris is irresistible with its double head.
Further round this side of the garden the moat is deeper and full of water.
In the middle a fountain sprays upwards in the breeze.
While on the other side there is another show of yellow.
The farm buildings have been restored recently to a high standard.
More giant pots, this time filled with tulips.
and these three cherubs play and watch
the water flow silently down this metal obelisk.
Home-made refreshments are available in the church, but we have no time to dawdle for another garden beckons. A glance down the iris borders,
and a thoughtful photo is a reminder of what is yet to come.