|The Quincunx at Wyken Hall, Suffolk|
The charming and unusual four-acre garden surrounding an equally unique half-timbered and gabled manor house - Wyken Hall near Bury St Edmunds - is only a fraction of the flourishing enterprise operated on an ancient estate recorded in the Domesday Book by husband and wife team Sir Kenneth and Lady Carlisle. They also run a successful vineyard, working farm, thriving shop and popular eaterie next to their home in this lovely part of Suffolk.
The garden is offset by the striking copper reddish colour of the 16th century house at its heart and the owners have capitalised on the unique hue of their home to enliven the series of garden rooms that surround it. Sir Kenneth equates the unusual colour to 'Suffolk Pink' which was used in Elizabethan times and has used a traditional limewash method rather than modern masonry paint to decorate the exterior of the hall. The house is not open to the public, but you can wander at leisure in the garden.
|The cottage garden, with gate designed by George Carter|
As you approach the formal gardens surrounding Wyken, you will stop first at the cottage garden with its unusual gate (above), designed by neighbouring Norfolk inhabitant George Carter, who was rated by the Sunday Times as 'one of 10 best garden designers in Britain'. And from here you walk on to discover the box quincunx in front of the house - five interlocking circles of topiary, filled with bulbs or herbs according to the time of year. And you will be able to admire the verandah with its original Mississippi rocking chairs acquired by Lady Carlisle on a trip to America.
Walk round to the north side of the hall and you will discover the apple orchard and immaculate kitchen garden, where much of the produce is grown for The Leaping Hare Vineyard Restaurant and Cafe, located in the adjacent 400-year old barn. And from here you will catch your first glance of the hot border, currently in full bloom. The colours are magnificent in high summer and are further complemented by the hue of the house.
|The Hot Border at Wyken Hall|
To the south of this colourful scene are a series of garden rooms designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd (who opens her own home Gresgarth Hall to the public once a month) back in 1983 and which are now well established. There is a herb garden, knot garden and rose garden featuring a wide variety of old-fashioned roses. And close to the house is a miniature pergola, inspired by the one at Bodnant, where Sir Kenneth was born and spent the early years of his life.
|The Wyken Hall Knot Garden designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd|
It is well worth making the effort to visit the garden at Wyken Hall and you certainly won't be disappointed when you get there. It is open daily from Easter until the end of September from 14.00 to 18.00. On Saturdays there is a Farmers Market and the gardens remain closed. Admission is £4.00 and children are free. RHS members gain free entry throughout the season (except on special event days).
Combine this with a visit to nearby Bressingham and you will come home with many ideas for your garden at home. Lunch in the restaurant is excellent and of course, you can always take some Wyken wine home with you.
For more summer garden ideas, click here.