This is a tour of gardens all situated south of Bury St Edmund’s, Suffolk.
We meet at Ousden House, near Newmarket. It was described as ‘spectacular’ and ‘exceptional’ when it was opened in 2014, after 20 years of work by the owners. Topiary, mainly of box and yew, is used both structurally and decoratively. A long double crinkle crankle hedge of yew is of particular note. There are many other features such as the long moat garden, sheltered by cloud pruned yew, and the courtyard garden.
Lunch with wine or a soft drink will be taken at a local pub restaurant.
The next venue is Ickworth House (in the care of the National Trust). The principle objective of our visit is to hear from the Outdoor Manager, Sean Reid, about the action the NT is taking about the restoration of the extensive hedges, which have been described to be of crucial aesthetic importance. Afternoon tea will follow at the NT West Wing Cafe at Ickworth. There is a ticket discount of £6.25 for those who are NT members.
Overnight accommodation is not included, but suggestions will be provided to assist you. Dinner, with wine & drinks beforehand, will be arranged for the whole group at 7.30 for 8 pm. Members will, however, be free to make their own arrangements for dinner but experience has shown that most welcome a further opportunity to renew old friendships and discuss matters of mutual interest. There is a ticket discount of £45 for those not attending the dinner.
The next day we visit two gardens, south of Ickworth. The first is Spencers, Great Yeldham, where we meet at 10.00 am for coffee/tea. This romantic eighteenth century garden is notable for its historicity. An introductory talk will be given by the owner or her head gardener. The walled garden was laid out by Lady Anne Spencer, granddaughter of the first Duke of Marlborough, who also had the house built. The gardens have been renovated by Tom Stuart-Smith. Some members will recall Lord ‘Rab’ Butler, who lived there in the 1970s and 1980s and gave his name to the delphiniums growing there.
We will have lunch with wine or soft drink at Spencers.
Finally, we drive to Parsonage House, Haverhill. The garden has featured in ‘Hortus’ and ‘Country Life’ amongst other journals. A three-acre formal garden surrounds the fifteenth century house and comprises topiary, mixed borders, potager and pond (part of the original moat). The lawn is dominated by a huge and ancient topiary yew. Some of the garden buildings are recent, but are of interest, having been designed by Charles Morris, who designed the Orchard Room at Highgrove House for our principal patron, HRH the Prince of Wales. A generous homemade tea will be provided before we all disperse at 17:00.