15. Suffolk Tuesday 4 July

Kirtling Tower, Kirtling – The Lord and Lady Fairhaven

Built in 1530, Kirtling Tower is the remnant of the largest house in Cambridgeshire. Twenty-five years ago Lord and Lady Fairhaven started to lay out a garden here, but the garden gained momentum when they moved here from Anglesey Abbey and Richard Ayres, former head gardener at the Abbey, advised on the layout of the garden beyond the 1000 year old moat. The walled garden was rescued from dereliction and formally planted with herbaceous borders against the old brick walls. In front of the house an avenue of walnuts reaches across the park and a secret garden has been laid out with advice from Penelope Hobhouse. This garden starts informally with a large pool planted informally with flowering shrubs and trees, including a beautiful cut-leafed Alnus glutinosa ‘Imperialis’, and culminates in a formal circle of clipped beech and fastigiate oaks.

Ousden House, Ousden – Mr and Mrs Alastair Robinson

Alastair and Lavinia Robinson might be forgiven for settling down to enjoy their wonderful garden at Ousden, but after 16 years of planning and planting, it is still evolving. Arabella Lennox-Boyd gave some initial advice on the garden when the Robinsons were starting with a clean slate around the site of the demolished Ousden House, where only a clock tower and the old stable block remained. In front of the latter, now their house, they created a formal yew-hedged rose garden. Yew hedges surround the clock tower and wind, in undulating curves, towards gates into the park. Further from the house, the garden becomes more informal; a bog garden fills a former moat and a spring garden is maturing fast. Beyond this a beech wood runs down to two former monastic stew ponds.

Parsonage House, Helions Bumpstead- The Hon. Mr and Mrs Nigel Turner

Annie and Nigel Turner have lived in Parsonage House for over 25 years. The old yew hedge by the lane hides the garden with its borders filled with a mix of plants designed to give colour and interest for a long period. The clipped box and yew give a balance to the informality of the gravel garden in front of the house, and the different areas of the pond and its surroundings, the greenhouse used to propagate the plants together with an extensive pelargonium collection, the old and new pool gardens, and the orchards over the lane, add interest to a traditional English garden. The wild-flower meadow enables the butterflies, crickets and orchids to thrive and thereby increases the wildlife as well.