Last Sunday was yet another wet, wet, wet day. Unable to work in my own garden and combined with Easter excess I decided that the only thing was to visit another garden. As I approached Great Thurlow Hall in Suffolk through a deluge of rain, signs of Spring were just visible on those manicured hedges around Newmarket
Too wet for anyone to stand at the gate to the Hall, the entrance to the garden was diverted through the church porch next door, left of the drive.
Crossing over the daffodil drive I headed through the thin green mossy-capped walls into the kitchen garden.
There a wide open space now represents the skill and toil of many years. The straight path ahead waits to burst into spring perennials and roses. Over to the left, a verdant plot is home to fruit trees, and to the right is the glasshouse and much industry.
Perhaps the produce is blessed by the ecclesiastical presence.
No loud signs here to tell you to keep out, just hazel sticks making an obvious statement.
The wall does not stretch the entire way round; one side is rather attractively the river bank.
The open iron gate leads onto the lawn below the house.
Euphorbias brighten the corner where benches are positioned,
then up the pretty steps and across the rose garden
to the terrace where you gain a view over the bridge to the gazebo beyond. Built in 1963 this was an anniversary gift from wife to husband of forty years; I smile at the thought that the best we could do was a watering can.
I walk cautiously along the wet York paving where the solid hedges of yew bring structure and interest,
and frame the view on such a murky day.
The formation of the pond is a perfect shape for the vista beyond and the despite the weather the fountain plays on.
Some chaps really don’t mind the weather.
Against the house is a tangle of wisteria, determinedly dormant it is hard to imagine how beautiful this will be in a few months time.
Not everything is dormant however; the red leaves of this cherry are trying their hardest.
The garden was created by the present owner’s grandfather during the last century. The wooded area, carpeted with snowdrops now in the green, is to the left of the house and screens the farmyard; the sounds of the cattle remind us that this is working farm. There is a variety of trees, some of which were planted by members of the family to commemorate the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.
Ha ha, we are at the end of the lawn,
where the slate ball seems to have gently rolled away from the house and come to rest.
Unlike Wordsworth, I have to confess that I am not a great fan of daffodils but it is on a day like today that they certainly play their part and look so attractive reflected in the water.
and of course there are so many varieties.
It is a watery landscape with the river Stour flowing through much of this garden.
The mown path makes one follow the course of the river and along the banks willows weep and bridges tempt you over to the other side,
and clumps of delicate primroses grow. Are they, in general particularly good this year?
It is very peaceful, but occasionally there can be heard the sound of rushing water.
The five bar gate is a reminder that we are in rural countryside surrounded by grazing pastures.
The path deviates off to take you around the lake. It is a haven for wildlife. On the island is a monument placed in memory of the present owner’s grandmother.
Walking back towards the house I find this bench in the most perfect position. This is a garden that has been opening for the NGS for 60 years. In time you will be able to sit and admire a Gingko biloba presented by George Plumptre in recognition of such longevity.
The drifts of daffodils are planted along the bank to flower in succession, one band is in flower, the next ready to come and close to the water they are still tightly in bud.
It is not just the plants that are reflected in the water.
Over 130 people visited today, not bad for such a wet day but private gardens like Great Thurlow Hall are popular and with years of opening will have acquired a considerable and loyal following. Opening again on the first weekend of June, I do recommend you should plan a visit, the children will love this watery space.