Columbine Hall is a gem. A moated medieval manor it is set in the Suffolk countryside just north of Stowmarket. Bought by the present owners in 1993, it is a garden designed by George Carter which seems to have a touch of everything except that is, decay.
I imagine visitors would normally drive through the barn archway, but today cars are directed around to the side. Driving past we were given an enticing glance of what lies beyond. At first sight we knew we were in for perfection.
The potager is in fact just through on the left. A beautiful garden gate is open:
Big silvery leaves of artichoke are reflected in the colour of the wooden obelisks. Tulips are planted around the edges of the four square beds.
It is a productive place with a battalion of bamboo waiting in perfect line.
Teas are served in the delightfully restored barn opposite and it is here that we find an aerial plan. It is that direct drive running from the right straight to the house that we now take.
First crossing over the moat we a find a series of courtyard-like spaces.
The first, surrounded by yew is uncluttered, and a shaped hawthorn stands in each of the four corners. Steps on the right lead up to a lawn but for the moment we follow the brick path straight ahead.
Here the area is open at either side with views stretching across the mown grass. Along the ornate picket fence fennel is emerging amongst the tulips,
and the open gate invites you into the inner courtyard immediately in front of the house.
Where the planting is simple but attractive; rosemary spreads out onto the gravel.
Even the log basket is a work of art.
It is so hard to think that it once looked like this.
The house and garden is completely surrounded by the moat which can be seen from various view points. Here it is glimpsed through the verdant hornbeam.
No area however small is left unlandscaped.
Tall hornbeam walls create unfussy outdoor rooms.
An avenue of pleached limes rise above the informal growth of cow parsley.
Structured vistas which criss cross one another.
The soft green walls are decorated intermittently by elegant stone.
What a setting. How does it feel to have two sides of the house standing in the water?
We skirt around the outside of the moat avoiding a fearsome obstacle on the way.
This is a chap you do not want to offend.
Straight paths are mown in the orchard where the blossom is wonderful.
Outside the moat is an attractive watery garden following the line of the gently flowing stream.
The path winds up through wild garlic, bluebells and irises to the bridge at the top.
We arrive in woodland; a mix of trees less structured than the area close to the house, it does however maintain a degree of control.
Originally planted to ward off the plague in medieval, bird cherry prunus padua is overflowing with blossom.
We walk back through the farmyard and even the muck heap has an air of charm!
And on that note I have to compliment the loos. Surely the best NGS ones so far.
There have been many visitors on this chilly April day. We have moved seamlessly through the different areas of this enchanting garden. The structured spaces have provided a variety of formal and wild, vegetable and flower. The NGS are surely privileged to have such a garden in their scheme.