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Glorious Gardens

Explore the stunning parklands and gardens in and around Bury St Edmunds...

Now that the sun has (finally) decided to grace us with her presence, there really is no better time to get outdoors and discover the fantastic array of gardens that Bury St Edmunds has to offer. From verdant swathes of parkland to quiet corners for contemplation, here are some of the top horticultural gems for you to set out and discover.

Fullers Mill 

Fullers Mill Garden - Image courtesy of Marcus Harper

Fullers Mill Gardens in West Stow is a small slice of paradise. Situated on the quiet banks of the River Lark, the picturesque gardens that you see today were the brainchild of former resident Bernard Tickner, who created this oasis from mere scrub and woodland. 

Rare species of plants and flowers can be found thriving in the dry soil conditions that are more typical to Mediterranean regions. Walk amongst perfect perennials in the Top Garden, where a breath-taking backdrop of lilies can be found in early summer. 

Amble over the footbridge and past the Mill Pond, and you will become enveloped by the spicy aroma of Spartiums and other beautiful blooms, transporting you to foreign climbs before the winter weather introduces an army of snowdrops to the garden. 

Down in the Low Garden, you will find raised terrace beds, tightly packed with freshly sown bulbs. The mixture of sunny glades and shady spots offer perfect conditions for all manner of woodland plants to thrive here. 

A small concession fee applies to contribute to the upkeep of the garden, and a range of light refreshments (including the necessary tea and cake!) along with a range of plants propagated from the garden are also available for purchase from The Bothy. 

Ickworth Park & Gardens

Ickworth Park and Gardens - Image courtesy of The National Trust

Surrounding the Georgian Italianate Palace, the 1800 acres of parkland and gardens at Ickworth House are a must-see when visiting Suffolk. Walk through the rolling landscape and woodland which offer a glimpse of the palace's rather grand Rotunda or stroll through the walled garden and seasonal meadow which are especially fragrant in summer.

The Walled Garden has had many different identities since it was first created in 1701. From 18th century leisure gardens to 20th century working kitchen gardens, it's the largest of it's kind in East Anglia. 

In centuries gone by, a small army of gardeners kept Ickworth’s family, guests, and servants fed with fresh produce grown in the garden, which included pineapples, nectarines, peaches and figs. 

In 2009 The National Trust team  found the Head Gardener’s notebook from the 1900s, which outlines the fruit lists from the late 1870s and the 1920s with rough planting plans enabling the gardeners toay to follow in his footsteps as Ickworth’s Walled Garden will be returned to its early twentieth century appearance and restored to full working order. Heritage fruit and vegetables will grow in the garden, just as they once did in its heyday at the height of country house entertaining.

Walk a little further away from the house and you are surrounded by the rolling fields; a working estate, it is home to grazing sheep who maintain the grassland (along with two Shepherds). It's the perfect place to enjoy a walk with the dog, or a family picnic in the picturesque Suffolk countryside. 

Nowton Park

Nowton Park - Image courtesy of Nowton Park

Nowton Park is renowned for the vivid display of daffodils that burst into life each spring. The park consists of over 200 acres of West Suffolk countryside, so if you’re planning to bring the dog along with you, then there’s no better place for them to let off some steam. 

A substantial play area is also sure to keep the children occupied, along with the numerous paths that are ideal for cycling. A perfectly clipped hedge maze, designed in the shape of an oak tree and consisting of 2,500 hornbeam trees and over two miles of hedging is also bound to keep you entertained for an hour or two! 

Take a leisurely woodland walk and admire the wildflower meadow, sown in 1990. The blossoming wildflowers attract a thriving butterfly population, introducing record numbers into the park. Alongside the picture perfect landscapes, Nowton also has two scenic ponds, both of which are rich in aquatic life. 

Experience the original grandeur of the estate with a walk down the 19th century lime avenue, planted back in 1880. At the end of your exploration, head to the park’s café to enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of cake. 

Euston Hall

Euston Hall - Image courtesy of Euston Hall

In the small town of Euston just south of Thetford sits Euston Hall, a grand country house that has been the official seat of the Dukes of Grafton for centuries.  

The extensive grounds surrounding the house are a fine exercise in 18th century landscaping, featuring designs by William Kent and Capability Brown, who worked intermittently here for some time. These designs compliment the original planning of the estate’s parkland, established by John Evelyn in the 1600s. 

The gardens that you can enjoy today include 110 acres of parkland and 65 acres of pleasure grounds. Particular sights of interest include a charming watermill on the banks of the river Blackbourne, dating back to the 1670s, and ‘The Temple’ (unfortunately this is not open to the public), an unusual octagonal folly that was one of Kent’s additions. Walk through the garden’s balustrade terraces and the many herbaceous borders before enjoying the formal rose gardens and perfectly manicured lawns. 

Abbey Gardens

Appleby Rose Garden - Image courtesy of Andy Abbott

Last, but by no means least, are the beautiful Bury St. Edmunds Abbey Gardens, a fantastic area that presents a fascinating combination of history and horticulture. No visit to this historic town would be complete without a stroll through these impressive gardens where there really is something for everyone. 

Escape the bustle of the high street in the 14 acre park that is home to an array of formal gardens and floral displays. Set in the grounds of a former Benedictine Abbey (a portion of which can still be seen today), the gardens were originally created in 1831 by Nathaniel Hodgson. Hodgson took inspiration for the designs from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Brussels which he sought to recreate in Suffolk.

 When the 20,000 plants that are bedded in the spring for the summer display come out in full force, the gardens are a staggering riot of colour. It is no real surprise that the Abbey Gardens have been the recipient of the prestigious Green Flag Awards on multiple occasions! Unwind in the tranquil calm and shade of the Water Garden and admire the many species of birds that can be found within The Aviary.

A few particular highlights within the grounds include the Pilgrim’s Herb Garden, inspired by a 13th century manuscript found within the Abbey that is now housed at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The garden features many medicinal plants, originally used to ward off evil spirits and cure ailments.

Stop by the Sensory Garden, an experimental garden conceived in 1990 designed specifically for the enjoyment of the visually impaired. Visitors will instead find themselves stimulated by the variety of aromas emanating from the many herbs and plants.

Finally, you cannot help but admire the classic beauty of the Appleby Rose Garden, home to over 400 rose bushes. Learn more about the name behind the garden and the history of American servicemen and women during the war.  

This is just a small glimpse into the many gardens that West Suffolk has to offer, so if you consider yourself an amateur horticulturalist, flower enthusiast or are simply looking for somewhere to while away a summer’s afternoon, alone or with company, then get out there and get exploring!